In February, Reading, England-based GTO Engineering announced it would build its Ferrari 250 GTO-inspired Moderna. The Moderna sits on an aluminum spaceframe chassis and is powered by a remade version of Ferrari's Colombo V12. This month, Wellingborough, England-based RML Group dropped another batch of details on the Ferrari 250 GT SWB-inspired coupe it's going to build. Called the RML Short Wheelbase, it bypasses much of the Moderna's custom engine and fabrication.
Instead, RML based its car on the Ferrari 550 Maranello, the svelte GT that Ferrari produced from 1996 to 2002. That means the heart of the Short Wheelbase will be a 5.5-liter V12 with 478 horsepower and 419 pound-feet of torque sent entirely to the rear wheels, same as the Maranello. The gearbox carries over as well, a six-speed manual highlighted by Ferrari's classic gated shifter, instead of the shift lever hiding behind a leather boot as on the original 250 Gran Turismo Short Wheelbase Berlinetta.
Having spent three years in development, all else has been overhauled. The 550's aluminum bodywork gives way to carbon fiber panels mimicking the long hood, compact passenger quarters, and severely abridged rear of the 1959 car. Modern dimensions make the RML car a healthy span wider than the 1959 250. The original Ferrari was 163.4 inches long, 66.5 inches wide, and 49.6 inches high, the 550 was 179 inches long, 76 inches wide and 50 inches high. The carbon panels shed a little bit of weight compared to the donor vehicle; the Maranello put 3,726 pounds on the scale, the RML Short Wheelbase is expected to come in at 3,241 pounds of dry weight. RML comprehensively retuned the chassis for high-speed luxury as opposed to all-out speed and handling. The SWB sits a touch lower to the ground, the battery's been moved to the rear for better weight balance, and passive Ohlins dampers replace the original active Bilstein's for composure at any speed. On 18-inch wheels wearing Pirelli P Zero Rossos, the dash to 60 miles an hour elapses in 4.1 seconds, two-tenths quicker than the 550, and the Short Wheelbase maxes out somewhere "in excess of 185 mph," whereas the 550 rang the bell at 199 mph.
Michael Mallock, chief executive and son of RML's founder, said the company chose the 550 as a base because "We wanted to find the sweet spot for rawness and on-road performance, where you can really enjoy the V12 engine and not instantly be doing three-figure speeds, and we found the 550 to be the perfect positioning for our car." Yet, to provide owners confidence when taking the RML Short Wheelbases for hard turns — and the custom traction control programming can be turned off — the RML team ran the 550 hard on track hunting for weaknesses to address.
The Short Wheelbase's interior contains all of the spare, profound luxury it can fit — the energy RML saved on developing a chassis and engine it put into creating a tailored interior. The materials ingredient list is short, at just glass, leather and machined aluminum. Power accessories hide their modern controls, a retractable infotainment screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto hides in the center tunnel, door pockets can hold notions and two cupholders can swallow the drinks owners will never allow inside the car. And RML designed that curt roofline to fit drivers up to 6' 6" tall.
RML spends most of its energy developing vehicles for OEMs and other automakers, almost all of which it is forbidden to talk about. The last time we heard of them, they were offering to turn the track-only Aston Martin Vulcan into a road-legal car. The Short Wheelbase will be the first offering to wear the RML name, sent out to the world as "a way to demonstrate our engineering talents." The RML Short Wheelbase will go on sale this year, the company refusing to take deposits until it is finished. There will only be 30 or so produced, at a cost of about 1.3 million pounds apiece, around $1.79 million in today's greenbacks.
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