James "Sonny" Crockett drove a black 1972 Ferrari 365 GTS/4 Daytona, commonly known as the Ferrari Daytona Spyder, in the early seasons of Miami Vice, before it was destroyed by Stinger missile in "When Irish Eyes Are Crying".
As Crockett was a vice cop and dealt frequently with wealthy criminals, all facets of his life were glamorized, from clothes and lifestyle to his car. His Daytona was even fitted with an in-car telephone, a relatively new invention in 1983 and correspondingly no doubt reserved for the wealthy elite. Crockett was issued the car sometime after 1980, as in the flashback to that time period in the episode "Forgive Us Our Debts" he is driving a black Porsche 911.
Just as Crockett's other luxury cars during the series, the Daytona was loaned to him from City Property for his police duties as an undercover cop. It was assumed that the Daytona had been seized from criminals under the RICO act.
Several popular music scenes in the show featured the Daytona, including:
- The "In the Air Tonight" Scene -- driving to the showdown with Calderone in "Brother's Keeper".
- "Going Under" -- driving to a meet, intercut with scenes of Crockett and Tubbs tooling up in "Heart of Darkness".
- "In the Night" -- Tubbs speeding to save Crockett and his family from an assassin in "Calderone's Return (Part I)".
- "Girls with Guns" -- driving out to the Everglades in "Glades".
- "Wire" -- following Al Lombard in "Lombard".
- "Brothers in Arms" -- going to find Tony Arcaro in "Out Where the Buses Don't Run".
- "No Guarantees" -- chasing Crockett's old friend Robbie Cann in "Buddies".
- "Order of Death" -- racing to save Tubbs from Jackie in "Little Miss Dangerous".
- "Fly on the Windscreen" -- Crockett, Tubbs and Jake Pierson ambushed on the Highway in "El Viejo"
- "Wild Cats of Kilkenny" -- the car is destroyed by Stinger missile in "When Irish Eyes Are Crying".
The Daytona was Crockett's beloved primary mode of transportation throughout the series' first two seasons. Crockett took it for servicing to Tommy, an exotic car mechanic who doubled as a useful source of information. In the episode "Whatever Works" the Daytona was temporarily confiscated by a Metro-Dade accounting official so that it may be auctioned off to raise funds for the department. It sat unattended in the Metro-Dade impound lot for two weeks, subjected to rain storms and bird droppings, with the top down because the accounting official couldn't figure out how to work it. Crockett was eventually able to regain it with Castillo and Izzy Moreno's help. The car was quickly repaired and returned to use in the following episode.
The Daytona was later destroyed in the episode "When Irish Eyes Are Crying", hit by a Stinger missile fired by Eddie Kaye when Crockett questioned the quality of his merchandise, much to Crockett's horror and disbelief. Tubbs, keeping his cover during the costly demonstration, expressed satisfaction at the stinger's effectiveness and an eagerness to purchase by pithily stating: "Sold!"
The Ghost Daytona
The Ferrari Daytona is the subject of the most infamous continuity goof on the show when it suddenly reappears in "El Viejo", six episodes after its destruction, without explanation. The real reason for this is because the network changed the running order of the episodes when they broadcast them; originally "El Viejo" was set to be the third season premiere, but when executives saw the Daytona being destroyed in "When Irish Eyes Are Crying" they decided it was so impressive it would serve as a far better opening to the season. Don Johnson's holdout at the start of the season also played a part, delaying filming to the point where the episode could not be finished on time for it's premiere slot.
In real life, the cars used on the show were not genuine Daytonas, due to the price (ca. 1980s they were selling for around $100,000-$200,000) and rarity of the genuine Ferraris. The cars used in the show were built around the chassis of a Chevrolet Corvette C3 by Tom McBurnie; the first car, known as Car One, was based on a 1976 Corvette, while the second, known as Car Four, was based on a 1981 model. Both cars had 350hp engines and 3 speed automatic transmissions, the latter of which can be glimpsed in the episode "Junk Love". The replica cars (affectionately known as "McBurnies" after their creator) used fiberglass body panels with a black plexiglass nose section, containing clear panels over the two sets of headlights. Originally the seams of this plexiglass nose, and the bolts holding it in place, were quite obvious, but for the start of season 2 the cars were completely overhauled to give them a much more authentic appearance. This can be most clearly identified from the smoother nose section on both vehicles and the shift from clear panels over the headlights to tinted ones, which sometimes gave the car the appearance of solid headlight covers in some shots. The Ferrari badges, originally mounted on the hood above the plexiglass nose, were moved to their rightful place between the cars' headlights. The interiors were also revamped, and Car One's chrome windshield trim was changed to black to match that of Car Four (this difference in trim is the easiest way to discern which car is on screen during season 1).
As with real GTS/4s, the replicas had soft tops, which can be seen in use in only two episodes, "Cool Runnin'" and "Bought and Paid For". Universal added a second brake pedal to both vehicles, allowing stunt drivers to make the "bootleg" turns and other manoeuvres required of the cars. The replicas also featured wire wheels, and inside were carpeted with black Wilton wool and upholstered in tan Connolly leather. However, the car seats themselves were not modified (beyond the custom upholstery), meaning the vehicles retained their one-piece, high-backed stock Corvette seats, noticeably different to the lower seats with separate curved headrests that were fitted to genuine Daytonas.
Other notable differences between the replica Daytonas and the genuine ones include the door handles; genuine Daytonas have the door handles hidden at the top of the door with the keyhole lock about halfway down the door, whereas the replicas have door handles on the sides of the doors with built-in keyhole locks, and the rear bodywork of the genuine Daytonas are curved to follow the wheel arch shape, with the tops of the trunklid and rear quarter panels slightly sloping downward towards the back of the car, while the replicas had a flat surface on the top of the trunk and rear quarter panels.
The disparity between the engine note of the Corvette C3's 350 cu in (5.7l) V8 and a real Daytona's 268 cu in (4.4l) V12 was overcome in the mixing studio by dubbing the sound of a genuine Ferrari over scenes in which the car was driving.
Car One had been involved in an accident before it was converted, and McBurnie had taken many of his original measurements for the fiberglass bodywork of the replicas using this vehicle. He later discovered that the car was two inches shorter on one side than on the other. Originally, Car One was finished in red with a black interior, but the production company later converted the car to black and tan to match Car Four, thereby obtaining the requisite backup car they would need for their rigorous filming schedule.
After the "fake" Daytonas garnered so much attention in the first two seasons of the show, Enzo Ferrari became outraged that a counterfeit Ferrari was attracting so much fame. As a result, he offered producers the use of the company's newest model, the Testarossa, and demanded the fake Ferrari be removed from the show. They agreed, but on the condition that they were allowed to keep the Daytona so that it may be properly killed off. At the time the decision was made, a third replica Daytona was in the process of being built by Carl Roberts, but with the removal of the car from the show this project was scrapped.
Filming and Cancellation
In the pilot episode, the 1981 Car Four is the only replica seen on screen (the first shot of the car, which pans along the driver's side and past Crockett, was an authentic Daytona Spyder). When the series was picked up, this car remained the primary McBurnie used for interior shots and close-ups, but it was supplemented by Car One, which was used for any stunts and rough driving scenes (such as the shots of the Daytona "skipping" over the camber of Miami's streets, seen in "Cool Runnin'", "Calderone's Return (Part I)" and "Give a Little, Take a Little"). Universal Studios first leased and then later purchased the cars from their owner, Al Mardikian, although at the time Mardikian could not produce the title deeds for the cars, causing producers some trouble legally registering the vehicles.
Contrary to anecdotes that were circulated when the switch was made to the Ferrari Testarossa, neither of the McBurnie Daytonas used in the first two seasons were blown up at the supposed behest of Ferrari as part of the deal that gave the production crew access to two brand new Testarossas. For the shots that show Crockett's Daytona being blown up, the production company simply used an empty body shell for both cost and safety reasons. Both of the screen-used Daytonas were in poor condition after more than two years of hard driving and abuse. They were obtained by Carl Roberts, with the intention of using them as marketing tools to sell his own fiberglass Daytona and Testarossa bodykits (the former of which would have made up the cancelled third car, and the latter of which was used for the Testarossa stunt car built for the final three seasons of the show). The original Miami Vice Daytona (Car Four) later sold to a family from South Carolina in 1986. The car was sold again, and then in 1988 was purchased by a Corvette enthusiast living in Augusta, Georgia. The car has been privately held since that time, and is not currently on display in any venue. The second car (Car One) was thought to be stripped by Carl Roberts for use in other projects, and no longer exist. However it has since been rediscovered and sits on display at the Volo Auto Museum. The reason the car was "lost" was because the visible VIN number had been changed at some point in time and didn't match the Universal documents. The hidden VIN numbers, which includes one stamped in the frame, had been located and verified against the Universal documents. The car has been verified as the authentic Car # 1 by the owner of the camera car (Car # 4).
- Crockett's Daytona appears as the "Stinger" sportscar in the video games Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories, both of which were heavily inspired by Miami Vice and can be seen as homages to the show. Ironically, the Stinger is available in a wide array of colors, but not black (unless certain cheat codes in the game are activated). The name "Stinger" is used for Corvette based cars in most other GTA games so that it hints to the true nature of the car.
- Tubbs was only seen driving the car twice, both times in the episode "Calderone's Return (Part I)".
- Despite the fact Tubbs almost never drove the car on the show, Crockett's Daytona made an appearance on the cover artwork for Philip Michael Thomas' third single, "Fish and Chips".