Mark Lyon launched GTO Engineering in the early 80s, mainly offering his extensive knowledge, engineering skills and services to a range of prestigious Ferrari dealers and specialists. Over the years the company has grown, along with the services it offers to Ferrari owners and dealers worldwide, operating from its headquarters in Berkshire and Los Angeles, USA.
Catering to enthusiasts of a marque with such a fantastically rich and diverse history threw up some challenges over the years simply because the older cars were becoming scarce and replacement parts were even harder to locate. This is where GTO really made its mark by manufacturing parts that even Ferrari could not get hold of and it became the go-to source used by specialists worldwide.
With coveted access to historical drawings and plans of older cars, GTO had inside knowledge of how the cars were originally designed and built along with the skills and facilities to make the parts necessary for a restoration or rebuild.
While being a major part of the business the Parts Department is only one section of a company that can truly say that they have everything covered. Servicing, restoration, engine rebuilds, race preparation and appraisals are all offered by the company. It is not unusual for a GTO technician to be flown abroad to service a customer’s car.
Ferrari Engine Rebuilds
GTO build anywhere between 20 and 30 Colombo V12 Ferrari engines every year. It can supply replacement, turn-key units, either as an original standard, with improved performance characteristics or with modern tweaks to go into a rebuild or special project or. But for those who cherish the numbers-matching aspect of their Ferrari’s history, it can also rebuild the original engine.
The engine department also prepares race engines to a customer’s requirements and provides a caretaking, storage facility for those who just need their engine to be kept in peak condition, perhaps for cars bought as an investment, but don’t need to store the entire car.
Obviously a large part of what specialists such as GTO offer is the restoration and refurbishment of classic Ferraris. These vehicles can represent a significant asset value and many cars are bought either purely or mainly for investment. GTO is able to undertake any level of restoration from a faithful, period specific rebuild to a modernisation of a well used example.
The company’s stock of take-off parts is impressive in itself and the shelves holding some rare and impossible to replace components could serve as a museum to Ferrari sportscars in themselves. Glass, lights, trim parts, steering wheels, hubs, all manner of items serve as a perfect insight into the history of Ferrari over the decades. And all are available to GTO to allow them to create that uniquely restored car.
Even those of us with a deep appreciation of the marque may not appreciate every tiny detail that goes into a Ferrari. GTO have a team of specialists on hand to offer pre-purchase assessment or insurance appraisals. When a simple ‘wrong’ number can dramatically affect the value of an investment it is vital to be sure of a vehicles history, authenticity and identity.
In 2020 GTO launched its ‘Revival’ vehicles to great acclaim, billed as “The ultimate interpretation of a legendary Sixties Ferrari”.
At the launch the company stated “From the chassis to the cockpit, every element of the 250 SWB Revival has been strictly enhanced, improved or rebuilt at the GTO Engineering UK headquarters, using the team’s extensive knowledge, know-how, historical technical drawings and industry insight. The result is a visceral experience of a high-revving Columbo V12, enjoyable chassis, lightweight aluminium body with a classic exterior and interior design, plus some modern touches to make it a pleasure to drive daily, on track or save for Sunday best.”
Inspired by the legendary 1960 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta Competizione, the 250 SWB Revival as a more usable, customisable and bespoke variant of the highly collectable original competition car.
“The 1960 Competition car is the one to have – not only is it the shorter chassis, improving drivability and handling, it has disc brakes [the 250 SWB was the first to have them on a Ferrari GT car], and an aluminium body rather than steel. But it has one major drawback. Because it was made in so few numbers, it’s not really a car you can take to the shops or drive on the lock-stops without fearing damaging the body or destroying originality. The 250 SWB Revival is a ‘best of’, based on original drawings and knowledge, with an added usability, driveability and the option to make it as road or race-focused as you’d like,” explains GTO Engineering Managing Director Mark Lyon.
Utilising original drawings, the GTO Engineering 250 SWB Revival uses a hand-built tubular frame underneath a hand-beaten aluminium body. Based on the shorter format of the 1960 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta Competizione it is 8” (38cm) shorter than the 250 GT.
“It’s hard to beat perfection [the 250 SWB], but you can make it more drivable, liveable and easier to use on a daily basis. You can also provide drivers the option for different V12 engines and gearboxes, which you can’t with an original. We wanted to give flexibility to owners who either want a grand tourer, a faster set-up road car or full race car that you can drive to and from events. The 250 SWB Revival was designed to be versatile, usable but also completely customisable,” added Mr. Lyon.
Revival 250 Specification
Engine: Each Columbo V12 engine takes over 300 man-hours to produce. GTO offers the 3.0-litre, 3.5-litre and 4.0-litre specification as standard with a bespoke cc capacity depending on customer requirements.
Gearbox: Four- or five-speed gearbox. GTO created its own internal design for the gearbox. Designed to give a precise gearchange that works in traffic and at high-speed, for enhanced usability.
Exterior: Each client can build a car without bumpers (as standard on the 250 GT SWB Berlinetta Competizione) or GTO bespoke chrome bumpers for a more road-inspired look.
Wheels and brakes: Incorporating the disc brake design from the period, GTO uses traditional disc brakes and offers customers optional lighter and more heat efficient aluminium brake callipers. Wheels are available in 16” 15” in polished or standard finish.
Suspension and handling: Calling on the team’s extensive road and racing knowledge, GTO can offer a bespoke suspension and alignment set-up for increased grip, stability, comfort and usability.
Race-derived: Available as a road car or in a racing specification the GTO Engineering team can assist with securing HTP papers, fitting with a full cage including door bars, half cage or rear harness bar.
The success of the 250 Revival series has inspired GTO Engineering to take the next step in developing and building a completely new car. Project Moderna will be a 60s inspired sports car weighing in at under 1,000kg but offering all of the modern features we now expect.
GTO has chosen to maintain a tubular steel chassis mounted upon lightweight but high strength aluminium subframes. While it utilises carbon fibre for the main body, the company will use aluminium for the car’s doors and bonnet to save weight but also maintain a Sixties sports car feel.
“It’s exciting to finally talk about our new project – a car that we’ve been discussing, sketching, specifying and honing for some time. Now it’s in development and we’re working alongside some incredible technical partners, we’re ready to lift the cover off the design renderings and initial sketches and explain the fundamentals of what makes this new car tick.” explained GTO MD, Mark Lyon.
“We’ve learnt from building the 250 SWB Revival, and working on a range of Ferraris, that a car’s weight and engine are two of the key ingredients to make a good sports car. So, we knew that this car should be under a tonne and powered by a quad-cam V12 – an engine format we are familiar with and developing in-house. To accomplish the desired light weight, carbon fibre will be used, which obviously wasn’t available in the Sixties but a composite we will utilise alongside other materials. For example, the doors and bonnet feel and ‘weight’ when you open them, was something we knew we wanted to keep and that’s why they’ll be made in aluminium – they’ll be lightweight but still give that ‘reassuring’ close and feel of a classic when the driver or passenger gets in and out, as well as opening and closing the bonnet.”
We can’t wait to see this latest vehicle in the flesh. It promises to deliver a package and style that could be quite ground-breaking.
For more information go to the GTO Engineering website: www.gtoengineering.com