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330 LMB project: Bell Sport & Classic remasters the rarest of Ferrari racing cars

330 LMB project: Bell Sport & Classic remasters the rarest of Ferrari racing cars

Bell Sport & Classic is proud to unveil the ultimate expression of its exceptional in-house restoration expertise, an authentic remastering of one of the rarest period Ferrari racing cars ever: the 330 LMB.

The result of a joint development programme between Bell Sport & Classic and the business’s owner, the project’s vision was to build an authentic 330 LMB, blending originality and the utmost attention to detail with the very latest restoration techniques and sympathetic enhancements in order to create the perfect, remastered machine.

Built to be used and enjoyed on the road, this one-off car is based on a Ferrari 330 GT 2+2, and pays respectful homage to the original 330 LMB – of which only four were built in period for competition purposes – with a bespoke alloy body hand-crafted using templates taken from Chassis 4725, the only right-hand-drive example ever made.

With all components either period-correct or made from scratch by Bell Sport & Classic’s expert team, 330 LMB Project represents the perfect showcase for the company’s skills, a case study that demonstrates the new benchmark-setting levels of finish for Bell Sport & Classic’s restorations.

Rarer than a 250 GTO
The Ferrari 330 LMB (Le Mans Berlinetta) was developed by British-born Ferrari racing driver and engineer Mike Parkes to compete at the 1963 Le Mans 24 Hours. Based upon the Ferrari 250 GTO but with a more powerful 390bhp, 4.0-litre, Colombo V12 engine, it also had a 20mm-longer wheelbase and redesigned aluminium body.

With just four examples made – three left-hand drive, one right-hand drive – the 330 LMB is a highly significant Ferrari, rarer even than the hallowed 250 GTO, of which almost 10 times as many were produced. A trio of 330 lmbs competed at Le Mans in 1963. However, the example entered by Colonel Ronnie Hoare's British Maranello Concessionaires Ltd team was the only one to go the distance, with Mike Salmon and Jack Sears finishing fifth.

As Ferrari was preparing to transition to mid-engined configuration competition cars, the 330 LMB was destined to become Maranello’s last front-engined race car of the era and did little racing in period. Today, however, the highly prized and exceptionally valuable 330 LMB can often be found at the sharp end of the historic racing field.

An unfinished vision
The origins of this remastering project can be traced back more than a decade. “The story begins with Edward Carter, an Essex farmer who was a huge Ferrari enthusiast,” explains Bell Sport & Classic Managing Director Tim Kearns. “Ed wanted to add a 250 GTO recreation to his collection but was steered away by one of the pre-eminent 330 LMB experts, Terry Hoyle. Having intimate knowledge of Chassis 4725, the original right-hand-drive LMB, Terry had another idea: ‘There are many 250 GTO recreations – you should do an LMB instead’.”

In November 2010, a donor right-hand-drive 1964 Ferrari 330 GT 2+2 was purchased by Ed and a vision formed: make the recreation more use-able on the road, but with a racer’s character. Nuneaton-based RS Panels was tasked with shortening the chassis and creating a bodywork buck. In addition to a comprehensive set of photographs Terry Hoyle had of Chassis 4725, a trip was even taken to New York to capture cardboard body patterns, measurements and more images of the original 4725 car. Tragically, Ed Carter was never to see the project completed, losing his life in a road accident in September 2015, and for the next two years, the car lay dormant.

Bell Sport & Classic picks up the baton
In 2017, the owner of Bell Sport and Classic stepped in to rescue the project and the car found a new home at the company's workshops in Markyate, Hertfordshire. It was here that a single overarching goal was set: use the project as a test case for Bell Sport & Classic’s restoration skills, establishing a new benchmark in the industry.

With restorations of period Ferrari, Lamborghini and Aston Martin being Bell Sport & Classic’s core business, it was also agreed that the 330 LMB project represented several unmissable opportunities. Firstly, to respectfully complete one man’s vision, creating what is thought to be the only 330 LMB remastering in the world – but to sympathetically enhance it, producing a unique one-of-one road car that blended originality, authenticity and the very latest restoration techniques, a machine as close to perfection as possible.

Given its collective knowledge, experience and enthusiasm of more than sixty years for the Ferrari marque, the Bell Sport & Classic team was perfectly placed to undertake the substantial amount of work required to complete the project to the highest possible standards.

The project has been headed-up by Elliot East, who has been restoring classic cars and classic Ferraris since the early 2000s working for many of the industry’s leading Ferrari specialists. Bell Sport & Classic’s engineering department is led by Attilio Romano, a former member of the Ferrari factory technical team in Maranello, who ran HR Owen’s Ferrari technical department for 22 years.

Building the body beautiful
When the car arrived at Bell Sport & Classic, the wings and roof were already attached; however, the dashboard was not fitted, and the door skins were incomplete. “As they were, the doors were spot-on for an original LMB. They felt super-light, but they lacked the more substantial road car weight we were looking for,” explains East. “So, we reworked them again and again, but very subtly, strengthening every single aspect including the hinges, the skins and the window frames until we got the perfect weight.”

Many of the parts required to complete the body simply could not be sourced anywhere in the world, at least not to the high quality demanded by Bell Sport & Classic. So, the only solution was to fabricate them in-house.

We spent more than a year searching for window catches; in the end we made them ourselves to ensure we were happy with the fit and finish. Our engineering department also made the aluminium fuel filler cap from scratch,” reveals East.

Other numerous items fabricated by the Bell Sport & Classic team relating to the bodywork include the straps and the bonnet's finishers. While an off-the-shelf Lusso windscreen was perfect for the front of the car, the rear Perspex screen had to be created in-house. As with the headlamp covers, the team first cut aluminium to shape, which was used to develop a former, via which the perfectly finished Perspex items were fashioned.

“Three years of work has been lavished on this car. And, as with all our customer restoration projects, we have applied painstaking detail to every aspect. Everything is hand-built and unique,” continues East. “It was a delicate balance to achieve, deploying modern restoration techniques to make the new LMB as comfortable and as road-useable as possible, without sacrificing any of its race-bred character.”

The project was subjected to a complete ‘dry build’. This process involved the team fitting all the trim pieces, such as door handles and windscreen surrounds along with glass, to the bare metal body to ensure that the fit of these components would be perfect after the car came back from the paint shop.

Once the team was happy with the level of quality achieved, the body was painted classic Rosso Corsa red over a painstaking ten-week period. Finally, white racing roundels were added, as they would have been in period at the Maranello factory before the assault on Le Mans back in 1963, and a pair of Scuderia Ferrari emblems painstakingly hand-painted on each front wing as they would have been in period.

The heart and soul of the 330 LMB
To take the Colombo V12 engine to full LMB specification, Bell Sport & Classic's engineering department converted it to a dry-sump specification and increased the capacity from 2953cc to 3967cc. “An extraordinary level of work was required to complete the process. Items such as the camshafts, timing case, water pump, oil and fuel tanks, oil filler tubes and caps had to be specially created for the car,” explains Attilio Romano.

The six carburettors are bespoke commissions in place of the Weber 42s fitted to the engine in period. The fuel rail and linkages are also bespoke creations. Once complete, the fully rebuilt engine was run-in and tuned on the dyno, and the result is 390bhp at 7000 rpm and 300 lb/ft of torque at 6000 rpm – precisely the same as in period. The only specification change has been the addition of a cooling fan, a modification that reflects the car's road-bias. 

At the start of the project, a five-speed transmission from a Mk2 330GT in Switzerland had already been sourced. While the original race cars were equipped with four-speed gearboxes, Bell Sport & Classic retained the five-speed unit as a sympathetic enhancement to improve the car’s road manners and use-ability.

The transmission was fully rebuilt using specially-manufactured selector forks and fitting all new synchros and hubs while Bell Sport & Classic’s engineers have also equipped the car with a bespoke prop shaft. The entire suspension system was stripped down and fully refurbished. The configuration features upper and lower wishbones with coil springs and telescopic dampers at the front.

A more road-focused set-up is deployed at the rear, featuring a five-bar linkage with leaf springs and a coil-over 'helper' damper, compared with the Panhard rod and Watts linkage of the period competition car. A rebuilt limited-slip differential completes the package.

Competition Lusso interior
As the original LMB 330s were built to race twice around the clock at Le Mans, few concessions were made to comfort. Their functional cabins were bare-painted in silver Hammerite with a wrinkle finish dashboard and black Corduroy seats. In keeping with Ed Carter’s vision for a ‘GT version’ of the 330 LMB, Bell Sport & Classic’s team strove to create a correct interior that would still be authentic but provide a touch more comfort for road use.

In the 1980s, the original 330 lmbs were retrimmed in 'Competition Lusso' style," reveals East. “So, we selected this specification, keeping the black Corduroy seats and ‘wrinkle’ dash but adding carpets and trim detail. With race-focussed instruments and dials, the car retains a very period motorsport feel, while delivering a true GT experience on the road.”

The car’s beautifully fashioned aluminium gear lever turret, featuring the classic open-gate and tall gear lever, looks exactly as it would have when it left Maranello in 1963. However, like so many other components on the car, this exquisite cabin centrepiece was made entirely from scratch, on-site.

Sympathetic upgrades include a high torque starter motor, electronic ignition, electric fuel pumps and an electric cooling fan. The 330 LMB project also benefits from hidden modern voltage regulator and electric washer motor, along with a full fire system and welded, leak-free fuel tank inside an external riveted tank.

Tim Kearns, Managing Director of Bell Sport and Classic,said:“This remarkable 330 LMB remastering is an outstanding showcase for the incredible talent that lies within Bell Sport & Classic. The dedication they have put into this very special project over the last three years is outstanding, with every component either restored, rebuilt or created from scratch, blending the very latest restoration and engineering techniques with a selection of sympathetic upgrades.

“The result is a unique case study that pays homage to the original and demonstrates the new benchmark-setting levels of finish for Bell Sport & Classic restorations. I am also proud that we have, at long last, completed one man’s original vision. For us, this 330 LMB project is very much a one-off but it represents so much more than a remarkable car: it is a rolling showcase for the attention to detail and craftsmanship we put into every restoration, and one thing is for sure, we will be revealing many more of those in the coming months.”

*Article Source https://www.bellsportandclassic.co.uk/

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