Replica Is The Wrong Word For This Gorgeous 1964 Ferrari 250 GTO Series II
Photography by AutoLeven
Back in 2015, during the Historic Grand Prix at Zandvoort, in the Netherlands, we shot a photo of a 250 GTO that we shared with the owner via Instagram, as is the fashion of today’s media. We decided to take the opportunity to ask if there was any interest in a full photo shoot with this unique Ferrari to make something a bit more permanent, and to our surprise, the company behind the build responded to our request, adding that they usually don’t react to these kinds of messages; they wanted to give us a chance because of that one photo from the Historic GP, which goes to show the power of a single shot! We could not have been more excited to get some alone time with it.
Arriving at Roelofs Engineering in our 1983 Escort, we felt a bit outgunned and were absolutely stunned by the quality of the workshop—entering a different realm, surely. After a short tour of the place and a quick coffee, it became clear that this family business was driven by the kind of spirit that one just cannot fake. Every person working in there enjoyed what they were doing, and I would chance a guess in saying they would all put air-quotes around the word “work” if asked to describe their job. Spectacular cars and kind and passionate people; it was an environment that sucked you in, made the time pass too quickly.
Like so many of us, the man behind all of this, Piet Roelofs, was caught up in an obsession for cars from a very young age. Although Piet wanted to become a mechanic first and foremost, his father advised him to study mechanical engineering instead, and today he is effusively grateful for this advice. After his studies, Piet founded Roelofs Engineering in the mid- ‘70s, and in the early days of the company, he only had one requirement: every car he worked on had to be Italian. He started to specialize even more over the years, and eventually, he came to the point where Roelofs Engineering is today: Ferrari-focused.
Classic Ferraris became the field of expertise as the Alfas and the Lancias and the like moved further and further into the background, and because of the scarcity of parts in this industry, Roelofs Engineering became a go-to shop for reverse-engineered components. Most of the processes occur in their own workshop next to the house that Piet Roelofs lives in. A small team of eight—each with their own specialty functions—now run this wonderful operation with him. At the moment, they produce around 15 to 20 new engines each year, which are sold, delivered, and then used in all types of vintage Ferraris around the world. The company also collaborates with local businesses to achieve their overarching goal: preparing the cars to be enjoyed on the road, on the track, wherever. To these guys nothing’s as tragic as a Ferrari kept away from daylight and asphalt and tarmac.
They’ve been involved in plenty of projects over the decades, but their most prestigious to date has to be the build of this 1964 GTO Series II recreation. With 40 years of experience in the field, Roelofs Engineering was able to construct this perfect replica of the legendary 250 GTO with its unique Series II bodywork, which is both technically and optically a perfect example of how a replica should be built. The car shares every aspect with the real deal apart from date of construction, and even if the mechanical DNA wasn’t spot on—though of course, it is—the car is simply an indulgence for the eyes.
It wasn’t a quick job either, seeing as this GTO project has taken over 20 to reach this point. First of all, it had to be a project that strived for perfection from the start, and therefore a great many hours were invested to ensure the chassis would be identical to the originals. The parts that were used for the car range from original Ferrari parts to hand-made pieces produced in the Roelofs’ workshop. During the course of the build, customers still had to be taken care too—they get priority of course—which meant the GTO was put to a hold a number of times rather than rushed.
It now has been 10 years since the 250 was completed, and the car is now enjoyed as much as possible on both road and track as is the mandate at Roelofs. It’s been used on the road quite often since being finished—it is a street legal machine after all—however, there was always a desire to use it on the tracks it was built for, and this is where Dutch racing driver Nicky Pastorelli came into play. He used to test cars for Roelofs Engineering, so they trusted him with their prized GTO as well. The risk of putting a car like this on the track will always be a bit nerve-racking considering the time, effort, and money invested so getting it in the hands of someone who is just as passionate as Roelofs was the most important thing. ‘‘The more we take the car to the track and events, the more it gets recognized by people which is a great thing.’’ No doubt quite a good bit of fun for the lucky driver too.
We are very grateful to have met the people of Roelofs Engineering and to have shot their legendary GTO, and we want to thank Piet and Anouk for their cooperation on this article.