Patiently Training a #Mazda
Miata to a to Become Prancing Exotic / #Ferrari-250-SWB-Simpson-Design
As Told by Jim Simpson // Photos by Austin Price and Courtesy of #Simpson-Design #2015
Editor’s Note: A definitive example of the #Ferrari
dualpurpose design is its 250 GT SWB. That is, a car that could be driven to the racetrack, win its class if not the the race overall, then driven home. Developed in the late Fifties, the model’s official debut was at the Paris Auto Show in 1959. The SWB designation referred to its “short wheelbase” of 94.5 inches, nearly eight inches shorter than its predecessor 250 GT models. This reduction improved both handling and cornering speeds, enabling the little two-seat coupe to achieve a storied competition career.
Today this classic is far too valuable to be driven daily on the street. Yet the berlinetta (fastback) shape is so iconic and compelling, it needed a second life.
That’s where Jim Simpson stepped in with #Mazda-Miata
-based car with what he refers to as “retro styling” (not an exact replica, but with lines derived from the #Pininfarina #Ferrari-250-SWB
). He’s done a number of other Miata body conversions over the years, but this particular project was far more involved. What follows is a short history of the birth pangs he went through to build a couple versions for two different customers.
The SWB project was originally commissioned by a gentleman overseas, we spent around two years creating the body, and building the first car.
All of the glass in the first car was custom made for the project, with the exception of the small vent windows in the doors. Only the first car got a custom-made windshield, and the red car is actually fitted with the third-generation (NC) Miata windshield.
Interior modifications were quite different on both cars, although the area behind the seats was all built to resemble the rear cabin of an SWB. Originally both clients wanted alloy wheels, but changed their minds and decided they wanted wire wheels. Dayton Wire Wheels custom built the sets of wires for us.
Both clients wanted stock mechanicals so they could have Mazda reliability, as they both plan to drive and enjoy their cars. While I have somewhat over simplified the process here, building one of these cars is a monumental task and hence this is something that we will only do to order, and have no interest or plans to sell components. Even the grilles and surrounds are handmade for each car, and requires an amazing amount of time and effort.
The bumpers on the red car are actually #Ferrari-250-GT-SWB
SWB and were purchased by our client, we only had to do slight modifications to be able to use them on his car. Fact of the matter is that we got the bumpers after the body was made and had already been mounted to the car.
The front end of the car requires mostly unbolting factory parts, while the rear requires major cutting and reworking. Lots of hours spent making steel to build this project.
The red car was a result of the blog post showing pictures of the first car being built in the shop. The gentleman who purchased the second car came over and saw the progress on the first one and commissioned us to build that car for him. Good news for us is he is fairly local.
One of the major differences is the windshield, as noted above. We had a nightmare of a time with that, and my warning for folks wanting to do a car where they have to scratch build a windshield is be patient and realize it is going to cost a small fortune and take much more time than you ever dreamed.