The RML Group is in the midst of readying the Short Wheelbase for launch, after previewing it for the first time three months ago. Only 30 units will be made, and they will go on sale by the end of the year, the UK-based engineering firm said.
At a glance, the modern retro GT is clearly reminiscent of the 1959 Ferrari 250 GT SWB, which happens to be the very inspiration behind the project. RML promises to deliver 21st century comfort and convenience with the driving purity of supercars from the past.
The big news here is of course the front-mounted, longitudinal 5,474 cc naturally-aspirated V12 engine from Ferrari. The 65-degree 12-pot mill is taken from a Ferrari 550, which develops 485 PS at 7,000 rpm and 568 Nm of torque at 5,000 rpm. All that gets routed exclusively to the rear wheels via an open-gated six-speed manual gearbox (also sourced from Ferrari). Key performance figures include a 0-60 mph (0-96 km/h) sprint time of 4.1 seconds, with top speed in excess of 300 km/h.
Powertrain engineer Adnan Rahman said the inlet, cooling and exhaust systems for the Short Wheelbase had to be designed from scratch. This is so that they can be better integrated into the compact body, yet perform effectively in even more demanding driving environments. “Imagine, for example, making full use of the car’s performance and then hitting a traffic jam in downtown Dubai in 50-degree heat – well, that’s what it’s designed to cope with,” Adnan said.
Meanwhile, in charge of the car’s bespoke oil and cooling systems is Matt Packham. He said: “The design and layout of the radiators and cooling system were a priority from the start, since where they sit in the engine bay determines how most other components are positioned. We started by seeing how effective the 550’s cooling pack was by testing it in a climatic wind tunnel chamber, and with that data, developed our own cooling test rig specifically for the Short Wheelbase.”
There are five radiators (water and engine oil radiators, gearbox and PAS coolers, and an HVAC condenser), as well as an oil tank for the engine’s dry-sump lubrication system. These could no longer be accommodated at the front of the engine bay and had to be relocated to the sides of the engine.
“We also wanted the under-bonnet area to have a more cohesive design,” said Matt. “So components like the oil tank and washer reservoir are positioned symmetrically and each has a neat carbon-fibre cover.”
Of course, a classic Ferrari V12 engine should not only be seen, but heard in all its glory. For this, the folks at RML developed a brand new free-flowing exhaust system, from the manifold all the way to the quad tail-pipes. It’s guaranteed to be acoustically sonorous, yet will meet all current noise regulations.
Consistency is crucial for bespoke commissions like this. Rest assured, with RML’s Powertrain Assurance Programme, each V12 unit will first be dyno-tested to establish its power credentials. Only then it will be stripped and have its internals thoroughly inspected, ensuring that all components fall within the manufacturer’s original scope of tolerance. Then the engine will be rebuilt and validated once more before being installed in the Short Wheelbase.
The V12 engine may not be at the cutting-edge, but one of its appeal is serviceability. Maintenance can be carried out by any reputable specialist around the world, but customers can also engage RML’s “Flying Spanner” service, where technicians are flown specifically to service those cars.
Company CEO Michael Mallock said: “After almost three years, we are nearing completion of the Short Wheelbase’s development. This car showcases much of the experience we’ve gained from not only designing and building low-volume, high-end motor cars, but also implementing thorough testing procedures to make sure that driving them is an emotional experience for all the right reasons.”
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