Return of the Breadvan: Niels van Roij Design creates one-of-a-kind 550 Maranello

By Pritesh Ruthun Time of article published Jan 27, 2021

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JOHANNESBURG - Custom coachbuilder Niels van Roij Design has unveiled its Breadvan Hommage (based on an Italian V12 gran turismo coupe). The company has styled the interior and exterior of the coachbuilt motorcar and has also overseen the construction process.

Why build something like this?

According to the designer, van Roij, "a true admirer of an Italian car manufacturer came to us with the request to design a Breadvan Hommage. We saw it as an honourable task to translate the iconic race car into a modern piece of car design.

It was, however, a complex task to translate the essence of that legendary car into a contemporary design. We intended to be inspired by the original but ensured we were not limited by it in our creativity. The Breadvan Hommage is a new original."

Early stages of development

As is the case with all Niels van Roij Design projects, the Breadvan Hommage started with ideation sketches: quick drawings made by hand. These ideation sketches are crucial for every automotive design project and one of many iterative stages of the car design process.

“Automotive design is about the search and the experiment, which is only truly achievable in a handmade sketch. In the ideation sketches, differences can not only be seen in proportions and surfacing, the skin of the car but also in the application of graphics and other details such as the bespoke exhausts and unique headlights. Eventually, this process produces a so-called key sketch: the one sketch chosen to be developed into more elaborated, rendered ideas,” he expounds.

The next step, after selecting one of the ideation sketches, was fitting the design precisely over the technical layout of the base car and presenting it in a more refined way. All the surfacing and volumes were developed into a large variety of high-resolution images. These renderings make the shapes easier to read and again a selection is made. This selection was developed into the clay model. A framework was installed on the base car, to which the clay was applied.

To make the full-size clay model, the team needed detailed visual information. Think of surface transitions from side to top and the design of air intakes, rear lights and the opening in the bonnet. All this visual data was provided by renderings, showing the details from different angles. Design work was ongoing during the highly labour-intensive clay modelling process. The car was further refined and all challenges, such as the integration of a bevel around the roof and the new headlights, were ironed out.

Van Roij notes: “A car is a complex, three-dimensional sculpture, which has to look right from all angles and under different light circumstances. Like sketching, the clay modelling process is iterative and the Breadvan Hommage was reshaped many times, to get it spot-on. After establishing the correct proportions the search for sophistication in the surfacing, or skin, started: finding the right subtleties for transitions from one element to another. It includes the exterior graphics like the richly sculpted air vents on the front fenders.

Custom building a one-of 'Ferrari' body

The body of the Breadvan Hommage was hand-beaten by master coachbuilder Bas van Roomen. He works on behalf of collectors and high-end restoration companies. He is one of only a few in the world who builds modern coach-built cars, such as the Breadvan Hommage, Adventum Coupe and the 612 Shooting Brake. He also worked on the clay model of the Breadvan Hommage.

The Breadvan Hommage features a handmade interior. The iconic outline of the exterior design has been embroidered into the blue Alcantara carbon fibre backed seats. The monogram can also be found on the dials, all 7 boasting pure silver inlays. The clock says: ‘che importa’. Italian for ‘who cares!’

All switchgear is made out of milled aluminium, linking to the gated shifter, which is set on a raised block. The driver is surrounded by quilted black leather: it can be found on the centre console, the lower door cards and the headliner. The door panels feature an unpainted, hand-beaten aluminium element, which links to the customised body, made in the exact same way. A small embroidered Italian flag in the corner of the aluminium insert is highlighting the roots of the vehicle. The door is opened through pulling a lightweight red cord, whilst a blue Alcantara insert functions as a grab handle to close it.

Built for driving, not posing

The 1960s Breadvan was born to be successful on the racetrack. Its unique styling, powerful engine, vehicle layout and suspension system were all designed for one purpose: being a race winner.

The original Breadvan. Picture: Supplied.

The 1962 Breadvan, particularly, was equipped with Koni single adjustable shock absorbers. At the time already considered by many as the state-of-the-art technology. Niels van Roij was determined in his vision; as a true celebration to the 1962 Breadvan, the Breadvan Hommage again had to use the best products available. Therefore Koni was asked to design and build one unique set of shock absorbers for the Breadvan Hommage. To celebrate the many successes in motor racing, Koni decided to use the technology of the double adjustable 8211-series as a basis for the Breadvan Hommage. This technology has been used for many years in Formula 1 and contributed to the 16 world titles Koni has won in Formula 1.

"The result is a Breadvan Hommage that is relatively comfortable around town, but a true performer on the racetrack," van Roij says.

Another key aspect of performance – and also the finishing touch for any supercar such as this – are tyres. Leveraging Vredestein’s long experience with styling, the Ultrac Vorti+ is making its debut appearance on the Breadvan Hommage. This ultra-high-performance summer tyre, which was originally developed in 2013, is fully dedicated to supercars and designed in close collaboration with ItalDesign Giugiaro.

"In the end, we decided that an extraordinary vehicle like the Breadvan Hommage should not only look great, it should also offer an unrivalled driving experience. The tyre of choice, the Ultrac Vorti+, can handle an extensive range of temperatures, facilitating a high level of control, even at fast speeds. Due to the dedicated front- and rear axle designs, the driver of the Breadvan Hommage will enjoy precise and responsive steering, superior wet and dry braking and extended tyre life," van Roij concludes.

If you would like Niels van Roij Design to build a custom car for you, see for more information. We warn you, however, that things can get rather pricey if you want one!


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