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The Story Behind the 1972 Ferrari 365 GTS/4 Daytona Spyder in Miami Vice

It wasn’t a real Ferrari, but it still looked badass and survived two seasons on the show.

Eleonor SeguraWriterGetty ImagesPhotographer

In 1984, new wave music reached its peak, the Guinness World Records confirmed Michael Jackson's Thriller as the best-selling album of all time, Apple introduced the personal computer, and Maxx Steele Robots filled the store shelves. That same year on September 16, 1984, NBC aired the first episode of Miami Vice and brought us the blazer-wearing detectives that went after the most notorious criminals in style. Starring detective James "Sonny" Crockett (Don Johnson) and his partner Ricardo "Rico" Tubbs (Philip Michael Thomas), the show fused fashion, cars, new wave music, and guns to deliver a show that would become an icon.

The 1980s crime drama featured two sharply dressed men as undercover detectives working the drug-ridden streets of Miami. On detective salaries they somehow dressed better than most guys, and patrolled the streets in a 1972 Ferrari 365 GTS/4 Daytona Spyder and a 1964 Cadillac Coupe Deville convertible. Despite the cool cars, bitchin' music, and stylish clothes, Miami Vice had its highest and best ratings during its second season (1985-1986) and steadily went downhill after that.

All hardcore Miami Vice fans and car buffs, though, know that Crockett's Ferrari was not an authentic Daytona Spyder. The Ferrari on the show was a replica built on a Corvette C3 chassis by Tom McBurnie of McBurnie Coachcraft, who produced two examples. One for glamour shots and the other to take a good beating during stunts. The show used a replica because it was cheaper—and because Ferrari North America refused to supply authentic Ferraris to the show.

Crockett's Ferrari 365 GTS/4 Daytona Spyder starred in the first two seasons, exiting the show early in season three during an illegal arms business deal by way of being blown to pieces. The Corvette/Daytona's exit from the show, however, was not originally part of the script but a response from Miami Vice producers to a lawsuit filed by Ferrari against McBurnie. Although the Ferrari knockoffs got the boot from the show, they were not actually destroyed. After a change of heart, Ferrari donated a set of two of the now-iconic 1986 Ferrari Testarossas fresh out the box for the show to use in season three as replacements.

So, where exactly did those two rejected Daytona Spyder replicas end up? From what we could gather, the stunt car version landed a role opposite John Candy in the 1989 comedy film Speed Zone. After its use in the film, the car sat abandoned in the desert for nearly two decades. Since being tracked down and discovered, the former Miami Vice star car underwent a restoration and is now on display at the Volo Auto Museum in Volo, Illinois. The other more polished example used for most of the shooting is apparently in the hands of a private collector.