Chuck Jordan’s ‘Superfly’ Ferrari Daytona
How staff at GM design pranked their vice president’s personal Daytona. Story by Chris Rees.
CURIOSITIES FROM THE AMAZING WORLD OF ITALIAN CARS
America has a long, impassioned love affair with Italian cars, and indeed with Italian design. One of the biggest compliments paid by an American to Italy came from Chuck Jordan, Vice President of Design for General Motors. The stylist had made a huge impact at GM with his very first major design – the Buick Centurion seen at the 1956 Motorama show. The following year, aged just 30, Chuck became chief designer at Cadillac and went on to style the 1959 Cadillac Eldorado featuring the most extravagant tailfins the world had ever seen. By 1962, he was in charge of exterior design for all GM cars.
Jordan was no stranger to the world of European design. He built strong relationships with both Nuccio Bertone and Sergio Pininfarina. Via the latter, Chuck was introduced to Enzo Ferrari, with whom he struck up a personal relationship. The American became a huge Ferrari fan and went on to own a whole string of cars from Maranello, including a 250 GT Lusso, Daytona, Berlinetta Boxer, Testarossa, F40, 360 Modena and 456 GT. He commented: «Whenever I was stuck on a particular design problem, I’d go out in my Ferrari for half an hour and pow! I was back up to speed.»
The subject of our piece here is his yellow 1971 365 GTB4 Daytona. Chassis 14777 was originally owned by an Italian but was subsequently imported to the US by Chuck Jordan. He was inclined to leave his car in the garage of GM’s Warren, Michigan design studio, something that reportedly really grated among his design staff – after all, these were the people who had created the Corvette, so why didn’t Mr Jordan champion the ’Vette by driving one of these instead of a Ferrari?
While Jordan was out of the country on a trip to Europe, his design team decided to play a practical joke. They put his beloved Daytona on axle stands and proceeded to, ahem, ‘modify’ its appearance by giving it a pimpmobile-style makeover. Using entirely removable materials like foam core and tape, they grafted on a set of deliberately tasteless tat (quite possibly as a comment on Jordan’s own design sensibilities). These included a Rolls-Royce style grille, bonnet bulge, fake Lucas P100 type headlights, ‘Ben Hur’ hubcaps, spare wheel humps topped by air horns on the front wings, sideexit exhausts, rear wheel spats, operastyle rear windows, fancy new rear lights and a rearmounted spare wheel. The resulting object was nicknamed the ‘Superfly Daytona’ for obvious reasons.
As recounted by Bill Warner, founder of the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance Foundation and himself the owner of a yellow Ferrari Daytona, Chuck Jordan returned from his trip with the chief designer of Volvo in tow. Wanting to show off his Daytona to the Swede, instead Jordan was greeted by the sight of this neoclassically festooned monstrosity. Apparently the prank did not go down well…