Since its conception, the Ferrari “Breadvan” has been one-of-a-kind.
While this unique modification of a 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB is cemented in Ferrari history, one auto designer is revisiting its legacy with the “Breadman Hommage,” a conversion based on a donor Ferrari 550 Maranello. The Dutch firm Niels van Roij Design announced in early January that it is creating a Breadman for modern times.
Unlike the original Ferrari Breadvan, which was a racing prototype built to settle a score between rivals, the new version is being built at the request of a private client. Only renderings have been released so far, but the press has noted that the design team’s work could be completed by the end of the summer.
The First Breadvan
The first Ferrari to look somewhat like a station wagon was conceived in the early 1960s. A sort of disagreement had taken place at Ferrari in 1961 after Enzo Ferrari’s wife got into an argument with some of the company’s main employees, which forced them to leave.
Some of the newly unemployed Ferrari workers created a new company, Automobili Turismo Sport. The company designed a new car to compete with Ferrari’s 250 GTO—the car they had been working on at Ferrari—in sports car and single seater racing. Count Giovanni Volpi di Misurata, owner of the Scuderia Serenissima Republica di Venezia (SSR), was a primary financer who wanted a win at the 1962 Le Mans season.
Ferrari cancelled Count Volpi’s order for 250 GTOs when it learned he was backing its former employees, but he already owned a fast 250 GT SWB. Former Ferrari worker Giotti Bizzarrini led the remanufacturing of Volpi’s Ferrari into a design as close to a 250 as he could with a few modifications. He moved the engine back 12 centimeters and lowered it, finishing the work in just two weeks. Piero Drogo Carrozzeria Sports Cars in Modena created the car’s experimental, now iconic aerodynamic look, with an elongated body, boxy rear end, and low pointed nose.
The French press dubbed this unusual car la Camionette, and the English press doubtfully called it “The Breadvan”—a name the chassis #2819 still goes by. The Breadvan raced four times in the 1962 season, winning two GT class races. While it was as fast as its counterparts, its rushed development schedule didn’t focus on the reliability so famous in Ferraris. Volpi drove it as a road car for a few years and then sold it in 1965.
It made its way to an American owner in 1986, and in 2007 a Dutch coachbuilder restored to its original 1962 shape. The car now resides in Germany, and half a century later its existence is still a point of contention with Ferrari. When its latest owner contacted the Ferrari team that authenticates restored Ferraris, it stated that the Breadvan did not comply with “strict Ferrari Authenticity Certification criteria” but it was “of historic interest.”
A Modern Reimagining of Ferrari History
The Breadvan remains possibly the most recognizable “Ferrari model” in history. Auto reviewers say that, so far, Niels van Roij is getting the homage to the car right. They praise the “modern and wedgy” version of the Breadvan that accurately captures the odd shape that set the original apart.
The new version is based on the Ferrari 550 Maranello, a 1990s model that Van Roij has said is conceptually similar to the 250s of the 1960s. “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,” he told a media outlet. “It gives us a unique opportunity to base our interpretation of the legendary Breadvan on a car with a corresponding DNA.”
The 550 has a corresponding successful Ferrari race history as well. The 550 GTS of 2001 won in their first season and brought home a class win at the 2003 Le Mans 24 Hours and third in class at the same event in 2004.
Van Roij’s initial renderings clearly reflect the Breadvan, especially the large vents behind the cabin and stacked circular taillights on its tail. The sketches show several versions of the bonnet along with different ideas for side vents and possible full glass taillights. While the design retains much of the donor car’s appearance, the only unchanged feature will be the windscreen. The design incorporates the Breadvan’s most recognizable styling, including its “kamm” tail and aerodynamic design that separates airflow off the roof without causing drag and turbulence.
The modern Breadman will go to a private buyer who commissioned it. The client saw the Breadvan race at Goodwood Festival of Speed and is now reviewing hundreds of sketches from the Van Roij design team. While it’s a one-time project, it has been reported that its new owner—a car enthusiastic with an extensive car collection—will drive it on the roads where all can enjoy it.