Ferrari News – This Ferrari 330 LMB Replica Is No Restomod
You’d be forgiven for not knowing the Ferrari 330 LMB. Only four were built, three left-hand-drive and one right, as a racing evolution of the 250 GTO. Based on the 330 GT, the LMB came with a 390 hp four-liter version of the fearsome Columbo V12, ran on a 20mm-longer wheelbase, and wore a reworked aluminum body. The LMBs didn’t see much in-period action before they were superseded by more advanced hardware, which explains their scarcity. The UK.’s Bell Sport and Classic doesn’t have the single right-hand-drive car, but have recreated one based on an original 330 GT and built in the same way as the original four.
Bell Sport and Classic didn’t begin the project. That was started by car collector and Ferrari fan Ed Carter, who originally wanted to build himself a 250 GTO, but was told that “everyone has one of those,” and so set about building a 330 LMB instead. Sadly, Carter died in 2015, and the project was left unfinished. In 2017 Bell Sport and Classic picked up where Carter and his team left off.
The idea was not to simply build ‘a 330 LMB,’ but through painstaking use of reference materials, to build one to a standard above and beyond what could have been achieved in-period. It’s not a restomod, though; only original or rebuilt parts could be used. There are no hidden USB ports, no CarPlay, nothing that would make it ‘modern.’ Sympathetic upgrades to stop it going pop were allowed, if deemed necessary. If the team couldn’t find parts, there was one option: make them fresh.
When it came to parts suppliers, Bell pushed theirs to go above and beyond. In some cases, Bell says, the best in the business was told to up their game. The quest for originality went so far that the team behind the car spent months making sure the door made the right kind of ‘clonk’ when it shut. The shields on the wings are hand painted, as are the license plates and roundels. It is, to be terribly British about these things, ‘proper.’
The original 330 LMBs were built to race, and that’s it. They weren’t to be driven on the day-to-day. This car has been built to modern tolerances; the panels fit well, it starts on the button, and nothing rattles or wobbles. No time nor expense has been spared to make this not just a good car, but better than it could have been in the 1960s.
It’s a real Ferrari underneath, it’s been built by a team with decades of Ferrari restoration experience, and it looks like, well, the RHD Ferrari 330 LMB. The thing even SMELLS right. Aesthetically, it is perfection. To drive, the same. Twisting the key fires up four liters of V-12 glory. Your brain hearkens back to an imagined sixties racetrack, where impossibly glamorous smoking mechanics give you the OK to rejoin a circuit populated by beautiful people driving beautiful machines.
You dip the light clutch, push the unnervingly long gear stick into an easy first, and gently roll forward. Your body tingles. As the revs ride to a noisy 3000 rpm with a glorious noise, the modern driver in you will think the engine is stressed and that you need to change gear. You do not, and most certainly should not, do so under any circumstances. Keep the gas pinned and let the Columbo engine wail. The gearbox is a masterpiece; first to second is light and easy; a gentle nudge gets you from ratio to ratio, third requiring a little more heft than its siblings but not anywhere approaching actual effort.
Throttle response is similarly wonderful. A gentle lean fires life to the motor instantly; mash it and fuel turns into delight without hesitation. It’s a naturally aspirated Ferrari V-12 from the sixties, and therefore about as close to aural perfection as you’ll get. In the case of this 330 LMB, it’s been tuned to run as smooth as silk. While the 390 hp top end is delicious, the ample low-down torque means you can leave it in gear and waft along if the mood takes you. A race car motor that works in town without complaint? Sign me up.
Although it’s a racer at heart, Bell Sport and Classic has tuned the suspension for road use. Neither too hard nor too soft it took the worst of the UK. countryside’s ruts in stride without leaning like an SUV in the corners. Grip was plentiful on a warm spring day as well.
There’s no assistance on the steering, but the massive wood-rimmed wheel isn’t heavy. That’s helped by the car weighing in around 2700 pounds. Lightness is one thing, but the feedback it provides is as you’d expect as well. It’s not laser sharp, but you certainly get a clear idea of what’s going on up front. The brakes are unassisted but work well when you need them.
The car’s build is amazingly faithful, which means some period annoyances come built in. The narrow pedal box is skewed off to the right, which means you have to slightly pivot your lower half to use the gas. People wearing anything other than racing booties may struggle not to mash the brake and gas at the same time. As it’s a race car, the seat is fixed, and while it can be adjusted back at the ‘shop, if you don’t fit you simply don’t fit. And, as the 330 LMB is a race car, there is no speedo. See a speed camera? Hope your best guess at 30 mph is good enough. Plus there are no wing mirrors, which is fun.
As a car, it feels exactly as you’d expect it to. Historically perfect, but very much a vehicle of its era. As an experience? A warm day, the V12 purring you along, bright red paintwork, thin wooden wheel perched between your fingertips… it doesn’t get any better.
Here’s the rub: you cannot buy this car. There’s one original RHD 330 LMB. Bell Sport and Classic will only build this one, and that’s it. This car ain’t for sale. What’s the point of it, then? To show what can be done to a car restored by Bell’s team. And what can be done is nothing short of spectacular.
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