Ferrari breadvan header

Ferrari 550 Breadvan

Cars Culture

A new 'bread' of Ferrari

In 1962 a very swift breadvan competed at Le Mans.

It was unofficial in many ways. It wasn’t raced by Ferrari, the company which built the 250 GT on which it was based, and it wasn’t actually called a breadvan by the team (Scuderia Serenissima) – that name was apparently given by sneering Brits.

However, this one-off adaptation of a 1961 Ferrari 250 GT was a bit of a revelation, being slightly lighter than a standard 250 GT and (despite having fewer gears than the official Ferraris) the breadvan held its own at Le Mans against the works cars – at least for the few hours before it retired.

Breadvan original Ferrari

The car went on to race a couple more times and took semi-retirement, until being reawakened decades later as a classic racer. It continues to race now, and even crashes occasionally, despite a valuation in the tens of millions of Dollars. An exact figure is hard to state unless the car was to go up for auction. When it races, it’s still competitive and onboard footage from the 2018 Goodwood Revival was released showing just how hard Emmanuele Pirro was driving it.

The car is now due to get a successor – a one-off vehicle using the ‘breadvan’ formula and applying it to a ’90s Ferrari – a 550 Maranello.

The 550 Maranello shares a lot of common elements with the original 250 GT – a V12 engine at the front driving the wheels at the back, and so the task or converting it is a fairly straightforward procedure. Well, it is if you really know what you’re doing. And the team behind this new conversion certainly do.

London-based Niels van Roij Design recently converted a Tesla Model S into a ‘shooting brake’ for passionate Dutchman Floris de Raadt for RemetzCar (see that here), and are the team tasked with making a success of the 550 conversion, too.

A series of potential designs has been released and shows a great marriage between the iconic elements of the original, chiefly that rear end, but also the vents at the front of the car and see-through bonnet window.

“The choice to go for this icon of the ’90s was logical,” says car designer Niels van Roij. “The 550 is the first Ferrari in 24 years (since the Daytona) which was built in the same way as the 250 GT at the time; a large V12 in front with a manual gearbox. It gives us a unique opportunity to base our interpretation of the legendary Breadvan on a car with a corresponding DNA.”

The car has already started its transformation, and Niels van Roij Design are happy to share the current state of affairs from inside the chrysalis, with images emerging of a fairly wounded 550.

550 breadvan

“We want to preserve the gentleman racer look of the Maranello and also incorporate the strong graphic characteristics of the Breadvan into the design,” said Van Roij. “Think of the air intakes, unmistakably integrated on the side and rear fenders and of course the iconic back featuring its strong rake. We are going to bring the exact angle of the original Breadvan back into our design. With our design ideas, we have given our coachbuilding team a difficult task. It is an extremely complex job to shape the aluminium body by hand in these precisely defined lines.”

When asked whether we will recognize the 550 Maranello base car used for the Breadvan Hommage, Van Roij is clear. “Although we will change each and every body panel we will deliberately show the essence of the looks of this unmistakable ’90s GT. However, we will work thoroughly: only the windshield remains original and even the headlights are changed.”

Keen to let interested social media followers in on the progress, the design team will be publishing an update every Friday. Keep an eye out for the hashtag #BreadvanHommage and on the Niels van Roij social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) on Fridays for ‘Breadvan_Updates’ – and we’ll see which of these great designs they go for.