LUC BBDC 2022 0061
Much more than a restomod, the RML’s bespoke build Short Wheelbase pays tribute the iconic Ferrari 250 SWB.

The world of small volume restomods is pretty big business these days. Numerous companies and engineering firms are turning their hands to spicing up a classic recipe with some modern ingredients, many using the evergreen Porsche 911 as their canvas. Yet there are some that take this process even further, such as RML with its Short Wheelbase. More of a homage than a true update of an old-timer, this eye-catching creation uses some fairly new Ferrari oily bits, but is essentially a bespoke creation that happens to have a passing resemblance to something from the Sixties (a Ferrari 250 SWB, not that the Italian brand will endorse such a thing).We’ve already driven the car in prototype form, but now we’ve got the chance to sample a near showroom-ready version of the £1.6 million creation. Yes, that’s right – £1.6 million. That’s clearly a lot of cash, but the RML goes someway to justifying that big ticket sticker price with those gloriously curvaceous looks that are formed in carbon fibre and covered in lustrously thick paint – in terms of finish the Short Wheelbase (let’s call it the SWB for, ahem, short) looks the part, even if the faux spoked wheels won’t be to all tastes. Inside, the car has moved on from the pre-prod car we drove. There’s a full set of analogue dials now, while the infotainment system is no in place, gliding up and out of its hiding place ahead of the open gate gearshift. It’s set a little low for ease-of-use, but frankly catching up on your latest Spotify playlist will be the last thing you’ll want to listen to once you’re on the move.Under the beautifully-formed and appropriately power-bulged bonnet is the 479bhp 5.5-litre V12 from the Ferrari 550, the car that also donates its steel backbone chassis, suspension and brakes. Rebuilt and blue-printed, the engine’s stable of prancing ponies are as healthy as when new, pulling with the deep chested relentlessness that only a large naturally aspirated unit can, its responses to your right foot instant and beautifully proportionate. The bespoke four-exit exhaust gives the unit its full voice too, the 12-cylinder unit singing and crackling from baritone to glorious tenor as it spins around to 7000rpm. It’s not slow either, firing the RML down straights with real intent (it clocked a 4.8 second 0-60mph on our timing gear), although the creamy smooth, linear delivery means it doesn’t feel as fast as today’s whizz-bang turbocharged tearaways, which have been digitally tuned to give kidney-kicking responses at the merest touch of right pedal – you really have squeeze the RML’s long travel accelerator to the floor to unleash its ultimate potential.It’s helped along by the six-speed transaxle transmission that click-clacks through its gate, bringing back happy memories of the days before seamless-shift twin-clutch transmissions. You need to be deliberate and precise, but once the unit’s oil is warmed through it’s a joy to use, especially as it is matched to pedals that are perfectly spaced and weighted for grin-inducing, blipped throttle heel-and-toe down changes.This old school approach extends to the chassis, but in a good way. The 550’s double wishbone suspension is retained, but RML adds its own anti-roll bars, springs and multi-way Ohlins adjustable dampers. In its default road setting, the 250 is compliant but with just enough control. Potholes and sharp imperfections send a jolt through the structure, while very occasionally the car will bottom out through severe compressions, but the rest of the time the RML keeps things on a supple but even keel. The steering is quick and meatily weighted with just enough feel through the gorgeous, thin-rimmed wheel, and with a relatively short wheelbase (the clue’s in the name), the RML turns-in keenly and accurately. With all that torque from the V12, it’s easy to trim your line on the throttle, while the well-controlled roll from the relatively soft suspension helps give the SWB a predictable and forgiving balance. There is traction control but no ESP, so the RML’s uses good old-fashioned feedback and progressiveness to let you know where the limit is, making for a very user-friendly on-limit behaviour.  When you do want to slow everything down, the 550-sourced brakes feature a firm pedal and reassuring bite.With the dampers given a few extra clicks of stiffness for the circuit, the RML feels as engaging and adjustable on the road, but there’s a little extra bite to the turn-in and a fraction more composure when really pressing on. It’s not a hard-edged track car by any stretch, but it’s hugely entertaining, its relatively modest limits and throttle adjustability allowing you to indulge your Sixties sports car racing fantasies as you can choose your angle attack from entry to exit as you balance any slide on the steering and throttle. That said, the closest most SWBs will come to a circuit is when they are parked in the paddock, having provided stylish, quick and effortless transport to their deep-pocketed owner’s dedicated track day toy.Despite its eye-watering cost (and let’s not forget that an original 250 SWB could set you back anything up to £60 million and would likely never be used), this is any everyday GT car that’s as comfortable picking apart a series of corners as it is spearing across continents to luxurious summer or winter retreats. There are still some rough edges (the interior trim needs to be finessed for full production, as do the noisy seals for the windows), but RML insist fixes have already been signed off and ready to go. Either way, the SWB remains a wonderfully characterful and hugely compelling addition to the world of bespoke build driver’s machines.

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