Don’t lie: You’ve had the Ferris Bueller fantasy. Ferrari California Spyder at full chat, leaping down the road, mischief being made. Sadly, because a legit 250 California Spyder is so rare and expensive that only not-quite astronauts named Jeff could get their hands on one, you’ll have to live vicariously through John Hughes’s classic movie. Unless you get yourself to GTO Engineering in the U.K.
The firm’s 250 SWB Revival, a new-from-the-ground-up (barring a classic Ferrari donor car) take on Maranello’s classic, showed us what happens when you apply modern manufacturing techniques to vintage designs: perfection. Now there’s a new Revival in the stable, one sure to please Mr. Bueller’s heroic parking-lot attendant. The California Spyder Revival is as faithful a re-creation of the Sixties classic as you can get.
The Revival’s underpinnings come from a classic Ferrari that was beyond repair or restoration; in the case of GTO Engineering’s black car, a 250 GTE. So it’s legit Prancing Horse underneath. GTO Engineering creates everything else in-house: body, switchgear, seats, engine, the lot. The firm’s primary business is maintaining and restoring classic Ferraris, and business has led it down the path of re-creating parts that are no longer available. They’re made using modern techniques to seem as though they came from Maranello 60 years ago.
Putting the cars together is a team of people whose professional lives have been dedicated to making sure old Ferraris work, which should mean the Revival cars are bolted together properly. The combination of freshly created parts, modern tolerances, and experts on the spanners is promising.
While an original car goes for over $15 million, the GTO re-creation retails between £750,000 and £850,000 ($1.04 million to $1.2 million) depending on donor car, taxes, and spec. Yes, it’s still an enormous amount, but in comparison to the original, of which just over 100 were built, it’s a bargain. With the GTO car, you needn’t fret as much about adding miles, crashing, or literally any of the worries you’d have with the real thing. You can have it for a sunny day and know it’ll start when you turn the key.
In the metal it’s stunning. GTO Engineering’s loaner is finished in a black so deep, you could lose your soul to it, while the red interior was bright enough to blow out your retinas.
As it’s faithful to the original, there’s no modern frippery, although the options list does include a USB port. So long as your whims are period appropriate, you can do a fair bit to the car: engines ranging from 3.0 to 4.0 liters, rollhoops, fire extinguishers, stripes, seatbelts, four- or five-speed stick shifts, quicker steering racks, and much more.
Unlabeled flip switches work things like wipers, lights, and the fuel pump, while beautiful dials show you exactly what you need to know, providing you understand basic Italian. If you don’t, there’s a fun guessing game built in. The Revival comes with a giant, ornate wood-rimmed steering wheel, its huge metal spokes leading to an in-your-face Prancing Horse hub. It is a thing of beauty, though it can be slippery when your hands get warm. That’s one of a few minor pains. The pedal box is tiny, and if you’ve got big feet (congrats), you risk hitting stop and go at the same time. If your legs are short, you’ll have to feed them around either side of the massive wheel to sit comfortably. This isn’t the fault of GTO Engineering; it’s inherent to the original car.
There is one big difference between the Revival and the authentic California Spyder: a roof. GTO Engineering’s car doesn’t come with one, as in the original it was something of a faff. This is a car suited for, well, California.
The controls are few and simple, if a little surprising. You’d expect the clutch to be heavy, but it’s light as a feather. The gas and brake pedals require more heft than you’d expect, but once you’ve figured out how much strain to give your right leg, they become second nature. There is, of course, no assistance. Just like Enzo used to make, etc.
And hoo boy, Enzo used to make some spectacular noises. GTO Engineering’s motor replicates them wonderfully. Four pipes out back fire 3.5 liters of V-12 noise (in this spec) to the wider world with abandon, treating your ears and those of anyone within about half a mile to the best kind of engine noise. Pinning the gas fires the needle around the rev counter, the noise building to the point that in a modern car you’d think you’d gone too far. But not here. Keep ’er pinned till the last moment, then pull off a suitably chunky shift to keep the good times roaring.
In 3.5-liter spec, and with just 2315 pounds to push around, the 320 hp on offer doesn’t give you much to complain about. Zero to 60 takes an estimated six seconds, and the car will manage over 150 mph given the space. In the real world, it feels brisk enough to put a big fat smile on your face.
There’s a gentle hint of body roll as you fly around corners, the car giving hints of movement at speeds far lower than anything this side of the year 2000 would dare. The steering, though heavy, is tactile, encouraging provocation and play. You can properly enjoy the California Spyder Revival at low speeds and thus far lower risk. Fifty mph feels like 100 mph in something enclosed; the noise, movement, and tactility make the world feel more alive.
A day off playing in an old Ferrari may not be entirely feasible, but some time with GTO Engineering’s latest shows that a stolen Bueller moment doesn’t have to be as far out of reach in 2021 as you might think. Though with each Revival car taking 1500 hours to build over more than 18 months, you might have to wait a bit
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