• The Ferrari Breadvan Hommage Is Almost Ready And It’s Gorgeous

Based on the sleek 550 Maranello, this one-off build pays tribute to the 250 GT Breadvan from 1962

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The Ferrari 250 GT ’Breadvan’ is undoubtedly one of the most fascinating Ferraris ever and the thing that makes us love it isn’t even that it’s one-of-a-kind, it’s simply that Enzo Ferrari himself hated the fact that it got built.

Now, nearly 60 years later, famed Dutch designer Niels Van Roij, the same guy that brought us the Tesla Model S Shooting Brake, decided to pay tribute to the ’Breadvan’ by creating a modern version of Count Volpi’s most prized possession. The fact that he used a Ferrari 550 Maranello as the base for this mad throw-back creation only makes it that much more awesome.

Niels van Roij, the guy with the wagons (and many other things)

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Dutch designer Niels van Roij is an older acquaintance of ours as we featured his take on how a modern TVR should look like here on our site. That, however, was all the way back in 2009 and we’re happy to report that van Roij has kept himself pretty busy in the past decade or so and many of his most famous projects revolve around the idea that, well, just about any car looks better as a station wagon.

Sure, the term ’station wagon’ doesn’t sit as well with the ears as does the British ’shooting brake’ but the idea is the same: take a three-box sedan or a coupe and make the roof longer so it goes all the way back to the end of the trunk lid, then connect the two with a rear window and you’ve got yourself a car that can, theoretically, haul more stuff. Nowadays, given the booming popularity of crossovers and SUVs, a large chunk of automakers have shied away from introducing any more station wagons. But van Roij thinks they’re still every bit as cool as they’ve ever been and we tend to agree.

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His better-known projects that have brought him countless headlines in the past few years include a jaw-droppingly gorgeous Tesla Model S Shooting Brake that was up for grabs earlier in the year for a hefty $200,000 and, also, this insane Rolls Royce Silver Spectre Shooting Brake, effectively a long-roofed two-door Roller.

We love shooting brakes here at TopSpeed.com, as you may have noticed from us covering this handsome Ferrari 612 Scaglietti Shooting Brake that was offered for sale not too long ago. In that piece, we talked a bit about a handful of other Ferrari models that went under the knife in the past to receive a big trunk but the 250 GT ’Breadvan’ wasn’t one of them - although we did include it in our run-down of 10 Ferraris [that you’ve probably forgotten by now-art188935].

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That Tesla, commissioned by quirky Dutch collector Floris de Raadt, was also seen at the Geneva Auto Show in 2018 and the generally impressive quality of the conversion coupled with the gorgeous design that van Roij came up with - in comparison to this much more bulky Model S Station Wagon conversion - had us cheering when we found out that a modern-day ’Breadvan’ is nearing completion and that van Roij is involved in the project.

A Ferrari 550 Maranello made to carry bread, sort of

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The Ferrari 550 Maranello was Luca Di Montezemolo’s way of telling the world that Ferrari’s back to its roots, that it’s back making impressive, front-engined supercars as it did back in the ’60s and early ’70s before the mid-engine craze really caught on and Ferrari was persuaded to respond with the 365 GT/4 BB. Di Montezemolo loved both the 250 GTO and the 365 GTB/4 ’Daytona’, which was the fastest car in the world back in 1969, and decided that the flagship Ferrari model should again have its V-12 engine mounted in front of the cabin.

Thus, on the grounds of the Nurburgring race track in Germany, Ferrari unveiled the 550 Maranello, a two-door supercar that featured the company’s now-famous ’F1-style’ semi-automatic transmission with flappy paddles mounted behind the wheel. The trick transmission, which debuted on the 355 F1 that same year, namely in 1996, wasn’t the 550 Maranello’s only party piece because the long-legged grand tourer’s 5.5-liter V-12 was amazing in its own right.

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Known to Ferrari anoraks as the Tipo F133A/C V-12, this engine put out 478 horsepower at 7,000 rpm and 419 pound-feet of torque at 5,000 rpm.

It translated into a 0-60 mph of little over four seconds (4.2 seconds was what Motor Trend Magazine achieved in its test) and a top speed of 199 mph. That’s quite something given that the V-12 wasn’t aided by a turbocharger and that, after all, the 550 Maranello tipped the scales at 3,912 pounds. To put it into perspective, a 1996 Lamborghini Diablo’s equally sonorous 5.7-liter V-12 put out 485 horsepower at 7,000 rpm.

Ferrari 550 Maranello specifications
Engine 5.5-liter V-12
Horsepower 478 HP @ 7,000 RPM
Torque 419 LB-FT @ 5,000 RPM
0 to 60 mph 4.2 seconds
Top Speed 199 mph
Weight 3,912 lbs

24 years after Ferrari introduced the 550 Maranello, you can still get your hands on one of Ferrari’s true modern classics for as little as $117,000 (according to the DuPont Registry) which, in other words, is about as much as you’d pay for a 522 horsepower Porsche Taycan with barely any optional extras. Niels van Roij chose the 550 Maranello for this project not only because many are still available at not-really-astronomical prices (Ferrari built almost 3,100 Maranellos back in the day) but also because of its historical significance, according to van Roij.

"It was the return for Ferrari for this layout since the Daytona. So it was a very important car," he told Hagerty. The client who came knocking at van Roij’s door fell in love with the original 250 GT ’Breadvan’ a couple of years ago after seeing it run in anger around Goodwood in the UK and decided that he wanted a modern version of it, a "new original," as van Roij put it. "It’s not a retrospective car. It’s really trying to take the right cues and take them into the future,” he underlined.

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The first sketches for the ’Breadvan Hommage’ were ready soon after van Roij was commissioned to work on this outlandish car meaning that, if you’re out there thinking of paying someone to build a one-off, re-bodied car that you dream of, expect to wait as much as three years before you’re able to drive it down the street. That’s also because the process of ironing out the final design on a project such as this one is never easy and the same can be said about the ’Breadvan Hommage’ whose shape (especially the rear window, rear vents, and the roofline) was altered numerous times to match the customer’s wishes.

When all was said and done, the team could only use the windscreen of the donor 550 Maranello as all of the body panels had to be made from scratch. The rear, for one, stands out because it really looks a lot like that of the original Breadvan with its boxy feel and quad taillamps placed in stacks of two on either side of the recessed rear fascia. There are vents up high, aft of the doors, and also within the rear fenders to match the look of the 250 GT from 1962.

The gills behind the front wheel arches were changed too although they do retain that distinctive 550 Maranello appearance. The nose, meanwhile, gained a more chiseled look as it now sports two big inlets carved into the hood, between the headlights, as well as a glass dome on that same hood through which one can peer at the V-12 engine underneath - just like you would on the old 250 GT ’Breadvan’.

“It’s very rich in sculpture," said van Roij referring to the ’Breadvan Hommage’. "In all honesty, the 1962 car isn’t necessarily very pleasant to look at. It’s not a well-resolved piece of design, it was just trying to be as efficient as possible. What I tried to do was to design a car that is actually also very pleasant to look at."

The next step in the process was to create a big-size clay model, a step that’s sometimes no longer employed in the modern design studios of the world where three-dimensional imaging helps you delve as deep as you wish into a design making it somewhat less of a necessity to actually have a physical representation of the design in front of you in order to more easily make amends to certain details. But van Roij did it the old-school way.

Having said that, the car will still be road legal as the underpinnings have been left untouched and the same applies to the 550 Maranello's chassis.

The wheelbase is the same as before too, all in the name of both safety and because the future owner wants to be able to drive the car in his native Germany and you may know how strict the ADAC can be during TUV certification (the certification that says your car is road-worthy, similar to an MOT in the UK).

The interior premises of the car have been attended to in great detail with the original upholstery gone and a blue-black combo of Alcantara leather coming in to fill the void. Many ’60s Ferraris came with blue cloth bucket seats for whatever reason and the ’Breadvan’ was amongst them and that’s why the ’Breadvan Hommage’ will have blue seats (complete with the car’s silhouette embroidered in the headrests). What is more, the door handles on the inside have been ditched in favor of Porsche 911 GT RS-style strap that you pull to close the door. The shifter for the six-speed manual gearbox will be another throwback element on the inside as it will feature a classic, boxy gate that sticks right up from in between the seats. An exposed linkage was also suggested by van Rijn but didn’t make it as part of the final specification.

With 90 weeks of work already behind them, the guys at van Rijn’s studio can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. The car’s been painted and final assembly is what comes next ahead of a full-blown reveal early next year.

(This is just Part 1 of a multi-part series that chronicles the creation of the ’Breadvan Hommage’)

The original ’Breadvan’ was Count Volpi’s attempt to beat Ferrari at his own game

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The year was 1962 and Ferrari upped the ante in the world of GTs by unveiling the 250 GTO, the pinnacle of development in the 250 series of models, and the direct replacement for the also wonderful 250 GT SWB. But the birth of what is now the world’s most expensive car was marred by internal disruptions amid a standoff that had developed through the winter of 1961 between Chief Engineer Carlo Chiti and a number of other senior staff and Enzo Ferrari himself.

The year 1961 had been one of Ferrari’s most successful up until that point. While the Scuderia did lose its lead driver, Wolfgang Berghe Von Trips, in a violent crash at Monza during the Italian GP, the squad that proudly displays the image of the Prancing Horse still bagged both the Drivers’ Title in F1 (courtesy of Von Trips’ team-mate, American Phil Hill) and the Manufacturers’ Crown. Indeed, Carlo Chiti’s greatest creation, the 156 F1, was Ferrari’s first proper mid-engine car and it was so good that it beat the rivaling Coopers and Lotus cars despite being heavier. Five of that year’s eight GPs were won by a 156 and Ferrari also came out on top in the World Sportscar Championship, and at Le Mans.

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To keep being at the sharp end on all fronts, Ferrari’s Chief Designer, Giotto Bizzarini, was tasked with taking the brilliant 3.0-liter, SOHC, 24-valve, naturally aspirated V-12 designed by Gioacchino Colombo and slot it inside a brand-new grand tourer which would spearhead the Scuderia’s GT assault in 1962. The car, named the 250 GTO, was homologated to run in the Group 3 category for GTs despite the fact that Ferrari never managed to build 100 unique GTOs in period.

In fact, only 39 were built between ’62 and ’64 with the rest being 250 GT shells that Ferrari had been churning out since 1960 under the provision that an automaker can update a homologated car a number of times throughout that car’s tenure and Ferrari argued that the GTO was nothing more than an improved 250 GT. Indeed, come 1964, Ferrari tried to do the same again when the company claimed that the mid-engined 250 LM was a spawn of the 250 GT as well but the FIA didn’t buy it and threw the 250 LM in the prototype ranks instead. But we digress.

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So, let’s go back to the winter of 1961. At that time, mid-way through the development of the 250 GTO, an ever-increasing rift between some of Enzo’s leading engineers and designers and their legendary boss began to be obvious at Maranello. The root cause of the red-hot tensions being felt in Ferrari land was none other than Enzo Ferrari’s wife at the time, Laura Domenica Garello. While she didn’t have an executive position within the company, she had for years been a constant presence at the factory and often came at odds with some of Ferrari’s key personnel, her favorite target being Sales Manager Girolamo Gardini.

After a number of disputes with Garello, Gardini finally reached out to ’The Drake’ pleading him to get Garello off the backs of the workers in the factory. Ferrari, instead, took personal offense at Gardini’s request and fired the Italian almost immediately. The news of the firing was soon making waves among the people working under Ferrari’s employ and, unsurprisingly, it only aggravated the situation. Chief Engineer Chiti, Chief Designer Bizzarrini, and Scuderia Ferrari Team Manager Romolo Tavoni were some of the leading figures who came together, armed with a lawyer, in a bid to urge Ferrari to re-hire Gardini.

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Ferrari, however, was undeterred and promptly showed his senior staff (eight employees in all) the door and asked them to follow in Gardini’s footsteps in what became known as the ’Great Walkout’. While a young Mauro Forgheri (then aged only 27) took over the baton from Carlo Chiti and focused most of his attention on sorting out the GTO, Tavoni, Chiti, and Bizzarrini came together to try and beat Ferrari at its own game.

The trio formed Automobili Turismo e Sport (ATS) and got busy designing an F1 car, a mid-engined prototype to tackle Ferrari’s 250P, and a grand tourer. Much of the funding for this new-fangled operation came from Count Giovanni Volpi di Misurata, an extremely wealthy Venitian (his father established the Venice Film Festival, for instance) who had been campaigning Ferraris for years but believed that, by backing ATS up, he could rise to the top of the world in F1.

Before that could happen, though, he still wanted to field cars under the banner of his own team, Scuderia Serenissima Republica di Venezia (often referred to as Scuderia SSS), and that meant he still relied on Ferrari’s services. Ahead of the 1962 season, he ordered one 250 GTO to replace his existing 250 GT SWB with the intention of purchasing another GTO if needed. His plans were thwarted when Enzo found out that, indeed, it was Volpi that was funding the new endeavor of his former employees.

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Volpi saw as his order for a GTO was revoked making him go to great lengths to acquire an example from another customer who’d already gotten his. However, he needed two GTOs, and finding someone else willing to part ways with the machine ahead of that year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans seemed an impossible task. As a result, Volpi decided to have Bizzarrini take his eyes for a moment off the ATS project and, instead, focus on re-building a 250 GT SWB that Volpi already had in his stable.

That car, chassis #2819GT, was the same one that had finished second in the 1961 edition of the Tour De France Automobile driven by Lucien Bianchi and Olivier Gendebien. Volpi had Bizzarrini create a one-off body for this 250 GT that resembled the 250 GTO but employed some radical tweaks such as a Kamm-back tail (as seen on Peter Brock’s 1964 Cobra Daytona Coupe) and a much lower and flatter nose section. Due to the extended front overhangs, Volpi was able to fit the 3.0-liter V-12 of the 250 GT snuggly in between the firewall and the front axle, a whole 12 centimeters (4.72 inches) closer to the center of the car than in the case of the 250 GTO.

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A six-carburetor setup was sourced allowing the 250 GT ’Breadvan’ to develop the same kind of oomph as any other 250 GTO did in period (roughly 300 horsepower). Moreover, a dry-sump lubrication system was fitted to allow the engine to be mounted considerably lower but a five-speed gearbox could not be found. In spite of that, the slipper ’Breadvan’ still proved to be about as fast as a 250 GTO down Mulsanne Straight during the Le Mans Test Day (about 174 mph).

French fans likened the weird-looking Ferrari to a van nicknaming it ’La Camionette’ while the Britons were the ones that gave it the ’Breadvan’ name. In the race itself, the 250 GT (driven by Carlo Mario Abate and Colin Davis) was less-than-stellar and retired just four hours into the event due to an unbalanced driveshaft. Four other outings followed and each and every time the ’Breadvan’ showed up lacking the Ferrari emblems, probably because Volpi didn’t want to annoy Enzo even more. As it happened, the Drogo-bodied ’Breadvan’ was joined on the list of retirements by both Volpi’s GTO and his 250 TRI/61 that was out fighting for overall honors. Meanwhile, one of Ferrari’s Works prototypes, a 330 TRI/LM won the race outright while a bone-stock 250 GTO (that of Pierre Noblet) finished runner-up.

The 250 GT ’Breadvan’ was parked after finishing third overall in the Paris 1,000-kilometer race at Linas Monthlery (it also achieved a fourth-place finish in the Guards Trophy at Brands Hatch) as Count Volpi focused his attention on other projects such as the Serenissima road car that was very much related to ATS’ own road car, both of which were examples of very early mid-engined supercars. Happily, the 250 GT ’Breadvan’ survived a spell in Detroit and can be seen at the races to this day and by that we mean the actual ’Breadvan’, not some replica made to look like it - which, in itself, is cooler than the ’new original’ 550 Maranello ’Breadvan’, if we’re honest.

Michael Fira
Michael Fira
Associate Editor and Motorsport Expert - fira@topspeed.com
Mihai Fira started out writing about long-distance racing like the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans. As the years went by, his area of interest grew wider and wider and he ever branched beyond the usual confines of an automotive writer. However, his heart is still close to anything car-related and he's most at home retelling the story of some long-since-forgotten moment from the history of auto racing. He'll also take time to explain why the cars of the '60s and '70s are more fascinating than anything on the road today.  Read full bio
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