As our weekend feature on Lanzante’s F1-engined 911 showed, Porsches are well catered for in the restomod market. But Ferraris, perhaps because of the regard in which many hold the Prancing Horse, rarely go under the engineer’s knife. Founder of Surrey-based Evoluto Automobili, Callum Davis, noticed this hole in the market a couple of years ago, when he and a couple of friends began talking about the untapped potential of the 348. But not just in the sense that one could be modernised, in the sense that it could form a base to create the ultimate atmospheric driver’s car. Something he’s now setting out to do for real.
“The performance benchmark for our car is a Ferrari 458 Speciale and, in terms of connection to the driver, the Porsche Carrera GT,” said Davis, a longstanding automotive businessman with a lifelong passion for cars. “We believe these are two of the best modern driver’s cars because they’re so engaging to drive. If you push them to 100 per cent, you feel everything that they’re doing 100 per cent.”
Davis described this as “peak analogue”, something he said was the primary philosophy behind the enhanced 348 that he, his two co-founders – a former racer and an ex-McLaren employee, no less – and team at eight-month-old Evoluto are currently working on. At this stage, just seven people are directly hands on in the project, although Davis said up to 20 more are indirectly involved through external suppliers and partners. Mule 1 is still about six months from completion, but the most important ingredients have long been decided on.
Let’s start with the engine. Gone is the 348’s 3.4-litre V8, in its place the 360's more advanced 3.6-litre, ramped up to produce a target 500hp – a gain of 100hp over standard, although something Ferrari reportedly achieved back in the ‘90s with the racing 355, once restrictors were removed. Along with its extra pace, the high-revving five valve per cylinder engine will breathe through a less restrictive race exhaust. Add a six-speed manual and, well, loins will be stirred.
“The 355 has played a big influence in the car’s design as well, which we’d describe as an homage to the best Ferraris,” added Davis. “The 355 is a special car to me, not just because it is such a great Ferrari but also because it was the first proper supercar I experienced up close. We’ve integrated some of its lines and features into the 348 and the feedback has been really good!”
Looks fantastic, doesn’t it? Just the right amount of added thickness to appear purposeful without hurting the prettiness of a vintage Ferrari supercar. Of course, there’s some flamboyancy in the design too, see the clear engine deck for example, plus those taillights look like they’ve taken influence from the 488 GTB. But it combines to create something so desirable. Little wonder Evoluto’s received enquiries from all over the world despite having only put out a few renders.
“We’re taking the handling very seriously, as that’ll be what sells it over the looks and straight-line performance,” said Davis. “We’ve got a lead guy for setup who’s come from racing, who’ll be working with racing drivers to use in their experience in deciding the final setup. It’s still under discussion, but we want this to be a very rewarding car to drive at all speeds.”
The 348 is a good base to start from – it’s known to some as the first genuinely usable Ferrari, having set the agenda for all midship V8 Berlinettas right up to today’s new F8 Tributo, after all. But Davis believes modern hardware can unlock a far broader range of talents, from docile daily usability to effective track work. And for those only interested in the latter, a more extreme version could also be in the works.
“In 24-36 months we’ll do a one-off racing specification vehicle where we’ll strip the weight down even more,” continues Davis. “It’ll be a fun project to see how far we can take this idea, but with a serious ambition to really push the power-to-weight ratio. It could provide us with the ideas for following projects, which might use more exotic materials such as carbon composites.”
Before then, however, it’s full steam ahead on the first car. While projects as innovative as these can so often come across unforeseen hurdles, if all goes to plan, Davis hopes to build around five cars per year from the second half of 2019, with build times for each taking between nine and twelve months. He added that with further investment “we could take that to nine cars”.
“We want to keep this exclusive, but we don’t want to be reducing a car to the level of exclusivity that people who buy it can’t enjoy it,” he said, referring to how ultra-low-volume machines often live lives of minimal use. “We want people to enjoy this car and we also want every single one to have a very thorough base spec, so no car is better than another.”
All will be Evoluto’s ultimate expression of the analogue supercar. Music to our ears, right? Prices will, inevitably, be up in the realms of exotica; the extent of the work involved in developing such a car is no small thing, as we all know. But Davis says they’re aiming to undercut the usual prices of cars like this, including products from the likes of Singer, which Davis admits to really admiring.
“We’re trying to be down to earth, not pomp and circumstance,” he said. “We want to produce something that’s an alternative version of reality, something to celebrate the very best of Ferrari.” And what more noble pursuit could there be than that?