This is the extremely rare Ferrari Daytona SP3 supercar

Ferrari may have the most extensive back catalogue of any manufacturer, but the company will never produce a 'continuation' car. That does not rule out the possibility of drawing inspiration from the past, which is where the Icona series comes in. Meet the Daytona SP3, a limited-edition V12 two-seater with a carbon fiber body and mid-engine that was inspired by the spectacular Sport Prototipo era of the late 1960s and early 1970s, and in particular the 1-2-3 finish in the 1967 Daytona 24 Hours race. Ferrari will build 599 units, each of which will cost €2 million, including local taxes. Of course, they've all already been reserved, with deliveries set to begin at the end of 2022.

The finish in 1967 was particularly memorable because the three cars involved – a P3, a P4, and a 412 P – were able to take the chequered flag in unison. If any retaliation was required for the humiliating defeat Ferrari suffered at the hands of Ford and the GT40 at Le Mans six months earlier, this was it. That explains the new car's name, which was a topic of heated debate within the Ferrari organization before it was announced.

Why? Why? Because the new Ferrari Daytona will undoubtedly conjure up images of the original Ferrari Daytona, the sharky modernist masterpiece front-engined GT that debuted in 1968 and set the company on a completely different design course. Unless you count the fact that it was never officially named Daytona and is instead known by the less memorable handle 365 GTB4. We believe the name Icona captures the essence of the Icona concept perfectly, says Enrico Galliera, vice president of sales and marketing at Icona. "The victory at Daytona was Ferrari's retaliation against Ford."

The history lesson has come to an end. Because, like the Monza SP1 and 2 Icona cars that came before it, and despite its inspiration, the Daytona SP3 is yet another demonstration that Ferrari is completely committed to the future and has a pathological hatred for the past. Although Chief Design Officer Flavio Manzoni has long cited the 330 P3/4 as a personal favorite, the 330 P3/4 is a significant step forward in terms of design. At a sneak preview event held at a top-secret location in Florence, he tells us, "I believe this is the best car I've ever been involved with." "It's a futuristic interpretation of a classic sports prototipo, and it serves as a perfect showcase for what the Ferrari Centro Stile team is capable of."

It's difficult to argue with that. The cues are all there, but they've been masterfully mashed together. The cresting front wings, which are straight out of the classic endurance racing playbook (think also Ferrari 512 S and 712 Can-Am), flow into a pair of functional bonnet air vents when looking at it from the front. However, the headlights are designed in the same manner as Ferrari's current slimline LED design, but they have a retractable 'eye-lid' that reminds us of pop-up headlamps. The door mirrors have been relocated to the top of the wing, which is another nod to the great endurance racers of the past century. Check out the 'cab-forward' stance, as well as the way the windscreen wraps around the cockpit, which creates an even more impressive impression when the detachable roof panel is deployed. Everything is extremely evocative.

Another feature of these doors are the 'butterfly' doors, which have an integrated air box that distributes air to the side-mounted radiators when opened. An elegantly pinched waist is featured, and an organic softness to some of the forms is offset by a strong sense of edginess in others. The rear end of the SP3 is perhaps the most outré of all, composed of a series of horizontal blades that emphasize the car's futuristic character while also evoking the influence of a more obscure reference point: Pininfarina's 1968 Ferrari 250 P5 concept car, which was designed by the Italian design house (look it up). In the rear, the taillights are integrated into a horizontal light bar beneath the spoiler, with the tailpipes exiting through an opening in the upper part of the diffuser. This is a car that has been transformed into abstract art.

Remember to form your own opinion, but there is no doubt that the Daytona SP3 is a stunningly beautiful machine in person, a car that changes how much visual entertainment you get depending on where you are sitting (literally). While it is important to draw inspiration from the past, Manzoni emphasizes that it is equally important to maintain a visionary approach in the present and future. "You can see how it is possible to link the splendor of our past with our vision for the future through this example. Because it is low-level, we would never do a'restomod.' Never create something that is cliched or overly obvious."

The Daytona SP3 is also intriguing on a technical level. I tell Galliera that the helicopter pitch is for a more analogue, non-hybrid LaFerrari, but he quickly denies this. "This is categorically not a LaFerrari Speciale in any way. When we design a new hypercar, we are aiming for the pinnacle of performance while also exploring new technological frontiers "He is adamant. "It is more design-driven than Icona, and we have some collectors who are very interested in that aspect of Ferrari. The LaFerrari and the Ferrari share some components; however, the philosophy and strategy are completely different."

Understood. However, despite the fact that the Daytona SP3 is essentially a remix of some existing componentry, it is still as sharp as a blade. The chassis and bodyshell are made of carbon fiber composites, much of which is derived from aeronautics and Formula One. T800 carbon fiber is used for the tub and T1000 carbon fiber is used for the doors and sills, among other materials. This is the best there is: in fact, it is so strong that it is used by the nuclear industry to manufacture the centrifuges that are used to enrich plutonium for nuclear weapons.

Keep in mind that the seats, as was the case with the LaFerrari, are integrated into the chassis, which helps to reduce weight while also optimizing the driving position and creating a more single-seater feel inside the car. It has a distinctly racy feel to it. The Human Machine Interface (HMI) is the most recent Ferrari system; the main instrument display is housed in a pod that appears to float above the main carbon fiber structure. For our money, this is the best Ferrari interior we've seen so far – it's focused, reduced, and emotionally charged.

Aerodynamics, our old friend, has also played a role in the design of the new car. It was easier for Centro Stile to incorporate appendages and wings into the Daytona SP3 because Ferrari claims it has the highest level of passive aero efficiency of any car it has ever built.

In spite of this, the car is still a world-class piece of aerodynamic sculpture: the front end has flick-and-ducts, the waisted mid-section has barge boards akin to those found on a Formula One car, and the rear end has underbody vortex generators and floor chimneys that optimize airflow under the rear of the car. These were only structurally possible because the SP3 does not contain any of the hybrid components found on the LaFerrari. According to Chief Technical Officer Michael Leiters, the most difficult challenge is achieving aerodynamic harmony throughout the entire vehicle. The Daytona SP3 generates 230kg of downforce at 124mph and has a dry weight of 1,485kg, making it the fastest production car in the world.

Finally, there is the engine, which is a magnificent 6.5-litre V12, which was most recently seen in the 812 Competizione, among other places. It produces even more power in this environment – 829bhp – and has a maximum rev limit of 9,500rpm. Pins on the pistons have been coated with DLC (diamond-like carbon) to reduce friction, and the crankshaft has been rebalanced and made three percent lighter. The con-rods have also been made lighter by using titanium instead of steel.

The use of sliding steel finger followers on its valve springs improves gas flow and combustion, a technique that is used on the most powerful superbikes and is partially responsible for their razor-sharp throttle response. The intake tracts have variable geometry inlet tracts to maximize the power of the explosions taking place in the combustion chamber, which is also on the intake. The SP3 is equipped with the most recent 6.1 version of Ferrari's remarkable SSC software, which incorporates the Ferrari Dynamic Enhancer for the first time on a mid-engined car in order to further reduce yaw angle and improve cornering agility even further. The top speed is in excess of 211mph, and the acceleration from 0 to 62mph takes only 2.85 seconds, and the acceleration from 0 to 124mph takes only 7.4 seconds.

In an interview with Top Gear, Leiters says, "We could have made it faster." "However, that was not the intention. It was difficult to reach 830bhp, and there were numerous issues with thermal management. But it was worth it. However, the Icona project provides us with a certain amount of mental freedom, and the lower volumes allow us to experiment with some interesting ideas. For example, there is carbon around the rear of the car that comes from Formula One and is capable of withstanding even higher temperatures."

It's a little amusing to imagine that the Daytona SP3 represents Ferrari in a more relaxed, contemplative mode. Despite the fact that it is primarily driven by design, you would not bet against this being the most dynamically satisfying Ferrari of the bunch.

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