Ferrari 550 GTS Maranello #66 – BBR

550 GTS
2004 Ferrari 550 GTS Maranello #66
Pilots: A. Menu, P. Kox, T. Enge 
Team: Prodrive Racing
Race: 11th overall (GTS class) at Le Mans in 2004
BBR - BG271 #12/50 (resin) 

Published 07/30/21

Founded in 1984 by Ian Parry and David Richards, Prodrive Racing is a British motorsport and engineering company. Their first efforts in racing were with rallying, with the Rothmans Porsche Rally Team. In fact, they won the first race they entered, in Qatar in January of 1984. By 1987, they expanded to touring cars, running factory teams in Europe for Alfa Romeo, Honda, Ford and Volvo. In 1990, they started rallying with Subaru and made history in the World Rally Championship. With their touring cars and rallying programs, by 2001 Prodrive was a motorsports powerhouse. With that, Frederic Dor, a Swiss racer, approached them with a sportscar project. He wanted to race a Ferrari 550 Maranello in GT events. However, there was a small issue with that. Ferrari, at the time, had a moratorium on GT racing, and very little interest in creating a racing version of their GT cars. 

550 GTS
When Prodrive finished with the car, the 550 GTS was more Prodrive than Ferrari.

That being so, Prodrive would have no support from the factory whatsoever – they were on their own. Nonetheless, they went ahead and called this new car the 550 GTS Maranello. According to GT rules, the basic structure of the engine, body and chassis should remain similar to the production counterpart. Even so, that would give them plenty of room for modifications. So Prodrive bought a brand new 550 Maranello and stripped it to the bare bones. In essence they totally rebuilt the car, only preserving the original space frame chassis. The original 5.5-liter V12 was blown up to 5983 cm³. With DOHC, 48 valves and fuel injection, it produced 600 hp. And to tame all those horses they used a British Xtrac 6-speed sequential gearbox. In the end, with a carbon fiber body, the 550 GTS was 550 kg (!) lighter than the civilian Maranello.

550 GTS
Prodrive’s masterpiece was a constant presence at Le Mans from 2002 to 2006.

The 550 GTS was ready in early August of 2001, and Prodrive took it to Spa. However, in the official test sessions for the Spa 24 Hours, they felt the car was not ready yet. Thus, its first actual race was at the A1-Ring round of the FIA GT Series a few weeks later, coming in first. With the good start, Prodrive built more cars for privateers, especially for the FIA GT championship. In 2002 they fielded their first 550 GTS at La Sarthe. Though starting in the GTS class pole position, an oil leak prevented it from finishing. In 2004 Prodrive built this 550 GTS #66 (chassis #ZFFZR49B000117110), and enrolled it in the 2004 24 Heures du Mans. Part of a two-car team, car #65 finished third in the GTS class while #66 came behind in fourth.

Impossible shot – same chassis, different years, different model brands.

In 2003 Prodrive was back at Le Mans, again with two cars. That year, however, their 550 GTS #88 came in first in the GTS class. And in the hands of a client privateer, in 2004 a 550 GTS was the overall winner at the Spa 24 Hours. From 2001 to 2004, Prodrive produced a total of twelve cars, though two of which were never raced. At La Sarthe, you could see them on the grid until 2006. Overall, the 550 GTS scored an impressive 49 overall or class victories. In fact, the success of the model may have tipped Ferrari to come back to GT racing with the F430 GTC in 2006. Therefore, the 550 GTS is a pure-bread winning machine, being one of the iconic racecars of the 2000s. 

BBR only made 50 of the 550 GTS #66, and mine is #12. However, you pay a LOT for that small run.

So, special in the real world and special in scale. This model is from BBR, #12 of only 50 produced. BBR has earned the reputation of being one of the best 1:43 manufacturers. The brand only produces models in small runs, both race and passenger cars, though always limited to Italian car brands. In addition, their models are never cheap. I fortunately found this one for a GREAT price, however usually they’re bloody expensive. So, what about quality? Spark-good, though interestingly, much heavier than a current Spark. In other words, the model isn’t worth the (big!) extra price. However, in terms of Maranello’s cars*, it’s either an absurdly expensive BBR (or Looksmart or Red Line) or a really crappy pw. I only got this one because I found it for the price of a Spark, therefore it probably will be my only BBR. Shame, because they are true gems.

*Greedy Ferrari charges HUGE licensing fees. Therefore, any merchandise with the Cavallino Rampante logo will be bloody expensive. Well, what do you expect from a car manufacturer that until recently made more money selling licensed products than selling actual cars? 🙄

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