Fighting Enzo Resulted In The Ferrari 250 GT SWB Breadvan

Fighting Enzo Resulted In The Ferrari 250 GT SWB Breadvan

The Ferrari 250 GT SWB Breadvan was built in an attempt to get revenge on Enzo Ferrari.

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The Great Walkout And ATS

In the winter of 1961, tensions within Ferrari became so strained that a large number of employees were fired or left to find work elsewhere. The stubbornness that had always helped Enzo Ferrari grow his ventures had started to turn against him.

Enzo Ferrari, Carlo Chiti and Giotto Bizzarrini

Enzo Ferrari, Carlo Chiti and Giotto Bizzarrini.

One of the many reasons for the dispute was growing involvement from Laura Dominica Garello, Enzo’s wife. Girolamo Gardini (sales manager), Romolo Tavoni (racing manager), Carlo Chiti (chief engineer) and Giotto Bizzarrini (sports car development), among others, demanded Laura’s removal from the company. This resulted in a meeting where they were all fired.

Ferrari was now in a dangerous situation because he had just fired most of the top executives. Many feared this would be the end of Ferrari. Luckily, the group was replaced by youngsters such as Mauro Forghieri, whose 250 GTO and many follow-up cars were a big success.

The group of fired execs formed their own company, ATS (Automobili Turismo e Sport), and aimed to compete with Ferrari both on the street and on the track. Their knowledge, along with a newly formed partnership with Scuderia Serenissima – one of Ferrari’s best privateer teams – gave ATS enough confidence that this strategy would work.

1964 ATS 2500 GTS

The ATS 2500 GTS, a 2-door sports car with a mid-engine layout. ATS produced 12 units between 1963 and 1965.

The Great Walkout is also referred to as a palace revolt.

Scuderia Serenissima

Scuderia Serenissima - Logo

Scuderia Serenissima, a privateer, was founded and funded by Giovanni Volpi, an Italian-Algerian nobleman. He inherited a large fortune at the age of 24 and made the smart choice of racing Ferraris. But when Enzo found out Volpi partnered with ATS, he would no longer sell cars to the team.

Developing The Breadvan

1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta

The original car: a 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB.

ATS’s aim was to develop a car that would beat the then-new Ferrari 250 GTO. Although Ferrari canceled all orders from the team, they were able to acquire a 250 GT SWB (s/n 2819 GT) – through Olivier Gendebien no less. Giotto Bizzarrini, previously head of sports car development at Ferrari, was now in charge of re-designing the SWB. He applied all of the ideas he had been working on to the 250 GTO.

Nembo, a small coachbuilder in Modena, was in charge of the mechanical modifications and Piero Drogo handled the actual conversion. The 3.0-L V12 and radiator were moved 12 cm (4.7 inch) to the back and lowered by fitting it with a dry-sump system, while the original three 46 DCN Weber carburettors were replaced with six twin choke 38 DCN Webers.

1962 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Breadvan

The result was a very aerodynamic body that was even lower than the 250 GTO. Thanks to the ‘Kammback’ theory, the roofline was extended to the very end of the car before abruptly cutting it off with a vertical surface. It was nicknamed Breadvan by the English press, while the French press referred to it as the Little Truck.

All of these modifications, which reportedly took just two weeks to complete, resulted in a car that was actually 65 kg (143 lb) lighter than the 250 GTO.

Debut At Le Mans

The Breadvan made its first racing appearance at the 1962 24 Hours of Le Mans driven by Carlo Maria Abate (IT) and Colin Davis (UK). Under pressure from Ferrari, the organizers placed the car in the prototype class instead of the GT class, where the 250 GTOs competed.

1962 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Breadvan - 1962 Le Mans

Despite the use of a four-speed gearbox instead of a modern (for the time) five-speed, the Breadvan quickly overtook the Ferrari 250 GTOs and was 7 kph (4.3 mph) faster on the Mulsanne Straight. In the fourth hour, the drive shaft failed and the car was forced to retire. The race resulted in a 1-2-3 finish for Ferrari, including two 250 GTOs, but Scuderia Serenissima left quite the impression.

Complete Race Results

1962 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Breadvan - Ollon-Villars Hillclimb

The Breadvan during the Ollon-Villars Hillclimb, resulting in a first in class and fourth overall finish.

Does not include race results before the Breadvan conversion.

#

Date

Event

Team

Driver(s)

Result

16

23-24 June 1962

24 Hours of Le Mans

Scuderia Serenissima

Carlo Maria Abate

Colin Davis

DNF

8

6 August 1962

Guards Trophy

Scuderia Serenissima

Carlo Maria Abate

Colin Davis

1st in GT class

4th overall

193

26 August 1962

Ollon-Villars Hillclimb

Scuderia Serenissima

Carlo Maria Abate

1st in GT class

4th overall

15

21 October 1962

1000 km de Paris

Scuderia Serenissima

Colin Davis

Ludovico Scarfiotti

3rd in GT class

3rd overall

482

11 November 1962

Puerto Rican GP

Scuderia Serenissima

Juan Manuel Bordeu

DNS

 

28 March 1965

Coppa Gallenga Hillclimb

Privateer

Edgardo Mungo

9th overall

 

The Breadvan’s Later Life

1962 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Breadvan - Black

Gianni Agnelli thought the car looked like a hearse, and as a joke, his butler partly painted it black in 1963. Although there are no photos of this car, there are a few scale models available, such as the one pictured above.

Gunter Sachs, a German filmmaker and third husband of Brigitte Bardot, drove the Breadvan in its new livery to St. Tropez. After a high-speed chase with the French police, Sachs was arrested, and the car was impounded for a short period of time. After it came back, it was painted silver before returning to its original red in 1966.

Volpi sold the car in 1965 for $2,800. Its current value is estimated to be around $30 million.

1962 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Breadvan - 2008 Le Mans Classic

The Breadvan is a frequent visitor of classic car events, such as Le Mans Classic.

Which would you rather have? The Ferrari 250 GTO, 250 GT SWB or the 250 GT SWB Breadvan?

Written by Max Lammers.

Sources: barchetta.cc and coachbuild.com


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