2021 Ferrari 550 Maranello Short Wheelbase by RML - story fullscreen Fullscreen

2021 Ferrari 550 Maranello Short Wheelbase by RML

The Ferrari RML 250 GT SWB may be the ultimate expression of automotive Retro-futurism

Combining modern hardware with a timeless classic shape is a dream for many automotive enthusiasts. Although there are more than a few companies that engage in such activities, very few actually go the extra length to achieve a more vintage driving experience. British company RML has done just that with this beautiful interpretation of the iconic Ferrari 250 GT SWB, based on the Ferrari 550 Maranello. RML has a long history of making bespoke chassis setups for various applications, including Motorsports. Some of their work includes the 2014 Infiniti Q50 Eau Rouge prototype (the one powered by the R35 GTR engine) and a road conversion for the track-only Aston Martin Vulcan.

2021 Ferrari 550 Maranello Short Wheelbase by RML Exterior
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The guys from RML specialize in bespoke setups for motorsports and road applications. They are behind the GTR-powered Infiniti Q50 Eau Rouge and the road conversion for the Aston Martin Vulcan

It’s obvious that the people from RML know what they are doing. They have the track record to prove it and they are not shy about saying it. Their latest project is further testimony to that. What do you need in order to recreate a classic front-engine V-12 Ferrari? Why, you need a more modern front-engine V-12 Ferrari, of course.

RML has gone above and beyond with the Ferrari 550 Maranello chassis. They’ve shortened it to the point where it matches the wheelbase of the original 1950s classic. The Ferrari 550 itself is a much newer car, but it still provides a visceral enough driving experience, which makes it an ideal platform. RML will set the suspension in a way that provides the sophistication of a modern car, but with a more engaging character.

2021 Ferrari 550 Maranello Short Wheelbase by RML Exterior
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In order to truly becom a modern-day 250 GT SWB, the 550 Maranello’s chassis has been shortened to match the original’s wheelbase

The 550’s Bilstein dampers have been replaced with a set of Ohlins dampers. The car also features unique sprig rates and new anti-roll bars. In addition, the car sits much lower to the ground and, combined with the short wheelbase, makes for a much sharper driving experience. The 18-inch retro-inspired wheels are wrapped in Pirelli P-Zero Rosso tires, for practical reasons. “We had the option of going with a bespoke tire, but we needed to future-proof maintenance of the car for owners in different markets, so having the reassurance that the Pirelli tire will be in production for the foreseeable future was crucial.”, Nic explains.

The 550 Maranello’s 5.5-liter naturally-aspirated V-12 unit has been left untouched. It produces the same 478 horsepower (356 kilowatts) and 420 pound-feet (570 Nm). RML says their 250 GT SWB can sprint from 0 to 60 mph (97 km/h) in just 4.1 seconds, while the top speed is over the 185 mph (299 km/h) mark. What’s even better is that the formidable V-12 unit has been "married" to a six-speed manual, for ol’ time’s sake.

Ferrari 550 Maranello Short Wheelbase by RML specifications
Engine 5.5-liter naturally-aspirated V-12
Power 478 HP
Torque 420 LB-FT
0 to 60 mph 4.1 seconds
Top Speed 185 mph

It is not recommended you try that with 1952 original, though. While the 0 to 60 mph (97 km/h) time is not that far off, at 4.5 seconds, its top speed is just 150 mph (241 km/h). Still impressive for the early 1950s.

2021 Ferrari 550 Maranello Short Wheelbase by RML Interior
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The classic shape isn’t just for looks and nostalgia. It’s also functional. Nic Rutherford – Project Lead Engineer for the 250 GT SWB notes that the reduced front overhang (the 550 Maranello had a lot of that) brings the car’s weight closer to the center of gravity. This, together with other tweaks, such as relocating the battery to the rear, further optimize the car’s weight distribution, thus improving the driving dynamics of the car.

RML has introduced a new tuning element. The SWB has different aerodynamics than the 550 Maranello, so CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) testing was used to predict the car’s lift at high speeds.

Like the exterior of the RML 250 GT Short Wheelbase, the interior is a modern execution of a classic design. Clients will be able to choose between a few Alcantara and leather flavors. In addition, RML promises that all shapes and sizes would be able to fit inside the car and find their perfect driving position. Did we mention the gated shifter?

In terms of chassis rigidity, the 550’s steel underpinnings are carried over. That said, the largely aluminum 550 Maranello body has been entirely replaced with bespoke composite body panels. This means less weight and more rigidity.

2021 Ferrari 550 Maranello Short Wheelbase by RML Exterior
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This translates to a 4.1-second 0 to 60 mph time and a top speed of over 185 mph.

The car itself is in its final stages and a press car will be ready around October this year. The first customer cars will arrive in the first quarter of 2022. As for RML, they’ve proven their expertise with various OEMs, in both motorsports and road applications. This also includes EV technology, which is among their fastest-growing specializations. Although it’s probably a matter of time before they give us a retro-inspired EV, as others have already done, they still are very much into giving us epic cars that burn gasoline. In fact, another retro-inspired V-12 car – the GTO Engineering Squalo – is expected to debut around the same time, as the 550-based 250 GT SWB.

Dim Angelov
Dim Angelov
Born in 1992, I come from a family of motoring enthusiasts. My passion for cars was awoken at the age of six, when I saw a Lamborghini Diablo SV in a magazine. After high school I earned a master’s degree in marketing and a Master of Arts in Media and Communications. Over the years, I’ve practiced and become skilled in precision driving and to date have test driven more than 250 cars across the globe. Over the years, I’ve picked up basic mechanical knowledge and have even taken part in the restoration of a 1964 Jaguar E-Type and an Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint. Lately, I’ve taken a fancy to automotive photography, and while modern cars are my primary passion, I also have a love for Asian Martial Arts, swimming, war history, craft beer, historical weapons, and car restoration. In time, I plan my own classic car restoration and hope to earn my racing certificate, after which I expect to establish my own racing team.  Read full bio
About the author

New Short Wheelbase’s exquisite classic lines are underpinned by sophisticated dynamics

Myriad changes to base 550 M chassis reflect RML’s expertise with bespoke set-ups
Suspension adapted to suit different aero characteristics and reduction in weight
Challenges overcome of balancing ‘classic’ character of car with inherent excellence of 550 M’s platform.
Wellingborough – RML’s new Short Wheelbase, which is set to launch this October, may appear to have been plucked from the glory days of the classic GT road-racer, but its chassis – much like its interior – has been carefully honed to offer drivers all the sophistication of a modern performance car, but with a more organic and engaging character.

And given RML’s extensive knowledge and experience developing performance car chassis as part of the ‘white label’ work they do for a variety of OEMs, it’s perhaps no great surprise that future Short Wheelbase owners can look forward to a driving experience which rewards and reassures in equal measure.

Nic Rutherford, Project Lead Engineer for the Short Wheelbase, explained his approach to the challenge: “We’re using the platform and chassis from the Ferrari 550 Maranello, which from the start struck the right balance with a broad level of dynamic excellence, but not so highly-strung to be out of kilter with the Short Wheelbase’s character. We then needed to adapt the chassis to reflect the significant changes made in the car’s design.”

While the Short Wheelbase retains the 550’s wheelbase dimension and suspension pick-up points, its weight, aerodynamics and overall balance are significantly different. As a result, Nic’s team swapped the 550’s active Bilstein dampers for bespoke passive Ohlins units tuned to suit the new car’s dynamic brief. Springs rates and anti-roll bar (ARB) thicknesses were also developed specifically for the lower-weight Short Wheelbase, along with a reduction in ride height for improved control.

Nic’s team also discovered some happy consequences of reducing the 550 body’s front overhang: “While it hasn’t affected the overall front to rear weight distribution versus the 550, it has moved more of the car’s weight towards the centre of gravity, which obviously has benefits in terms of driveability. We also relocated the battery from the engine bay to the boot, which improved the balance still further.”

The Short Wheelbase’s aerodynamics, being different to those of the 550, also had a bearing on the car’s dynamics. CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) testing allowed the team to predict lift characteristics at high speed, introducing another element of tuning into the mix.

Wheel design was critical to the overall appearance of the Short Wheelbase, too, with its 18-inch alloy rims designed in-house, and its Pirelli P-Zero Rosso tyres selected for their suitability with the new car’s chassis set-up. “We had the option of going with a bespoke tyre,” explained Nic, “but we needed to future-proof maintenance of the car for owners in different markets, so having the reassurance that the Pirelli tyre will be in production for the foreseeable future was crucial.”

Finally, chassis stiffness – which has an important bearing on any car’s handling and composure – is likely to be improved for the Short Wheelbase. While the 550 M’s steel backbone chassis carries over, its largely aluminium body is replaced by a composite structure, with all the attendant benefits in rigidity.

RML is now in the final stages of bringing the Short Wheelbase to market, with ‘Car Zero’ ready in October ready for press evaluation, ahead of first customer cars being delivered in Q1, 2022.

Previous press information about the RML Short Wheelbase can be found in the following links:

https://rmlgroup.com/news/2021/legendary-road-race-car-lives-again

https://rmlgroup.com/news/2021/rml-short-wheelbase-the-inside-story

ENDS

Press contact:

Simon Hucknall +44 7860 151953 ClassicPRose@outlook.com

Notes to Editors

RML Group Ltd
RML is one of the world’s leading high performance automotive engineering companies. We undertake whole-vehicle design, build and development projects for motorsport and road car applications.

We push the boundaries with exceptional and cost-effective solutions for automotive OEM’s. Defence and Aerospace clients, whether this is for a one off powertrain or a complete continuation programme, RML Group has the capabilities and experience to make your programme a success.

One of our fastest-growing specialisations is EV technology for road and race applications, made possible by our state of the art energy storage design and manufacturing facility, design engineering, software and simulation services.

In Motorsport RML’s experience extends to Touring Car, GT, Sports Prototype and off-road programmes in major motorsport series for global automotive brands worldwide, RML has won multiple World-Championships for its partners and has a winning pedigree in every series in which it has competed. RML applies this nimble, innovative and winning mind set to developing high performance road car derivatives and advanced automotive engineering solutions for OEMs.

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