The Prince and his Breadvan

22 April 2022

The Ferrari 250GT ‘Breadvan’ results from a Prince’s sense of humour. Based on a 1961 competition, 250 GT SWB, modified by Giotto Bizzarrini.

Bizzarrini designed and first developed the 250GT SWB and then the 250GTO as his crowning achievement whilst working with Ferrari.

Enzo Ferrari was livid when eight of his engineers departed in 1961, following a dispute between Enzo’s wife, including engineers Giotto Bizzarrini and Carlo Chiti. A number of them joined a new company, ATS, backed by Count Volpi and a Bolivian multi-millionaire.

After leaving Ferrari, he got the assignment from a wealthy count to modify a 250GT SWB. He decided to make it a ‘squareback’ instead of a fastback, resulting in a car that resembled what the Italians call a ‘Camionnette,’ or ‘small truck.’ In English, the term became Breadvan, according to the author, Jess G Pourret, and capitalised upon by the British press, soon became the car’s nickname.

Back to the ‘Breadvan’. Count Volpi, a wealthy Venice-based team owner, also owned this unique Ferrari. Volpi had ordered a 250GTO for his Scuderia Serenissima Republica di Venezia (SSR) racing team.

When Enzo Ferrari discovered that his arch-enemy was ordering a GTO, he cancelled the order.

However, Count Volpi did manage to acquire a used ex-factory 250 GTO but wanted a second car.

A 250 GT competition model, finished in grey, was sold by Ferrari to a Belgian, Oliver Gendebien, in September of 1961, who drove the 250 to second overall in the Tour de France and then sold it to the Count.

The car was much lighter than a 250 GTO and reportedly marginally faster than a 250 GTO down the long straight at Le Mans. It was part of a three-car 1962 entry at Le Mans, but pressure from Ferrari on the organisers made them enter them into the Experimental class instead of the GT class, where it might have upset Enzo’s had it beaten the factory GTOs.