-->
Drop Down MenusCSS Drop Down MenuPure CSS Dropdown Menu

CLASSIC

Try with us

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

When a pizza restaurateur succeeds in concocting a sports car

~Rare ONES~ The unique cutie sports car that caught our attention this time is a scarce British-made sports car called the Raffo Belva. This sports car was first introduced in 1996, and is the creation of an Italian-born restaurant owner in Lancashire England named John Raffo. During this time he was known for his Lasagna and was said to have "the best Pizza in Preston". While he enjoys success in the culinary business, who would have thought that his real passion is cars.
The Raffo Belva prototype has conventional doors with a removable roof and built by John Raffo in early of the 1990s. (Picture from: RareComponentCars)
This is not surprising, because John Raffo was originally a racer who started racing with Chevron B8 in the early seventies. And as time went by he started making his own kit car. At first he created a modified GTM and then through his company named Raffo Cars started producing cars under the name of 'Raffo Tipos' focused for racing track only. Well, apart from having culinary skills, it turns out that he was also a talented engineer, and the pinnacle of his endeavor is the Belva.
The Raffo Belva feautured with closed-roof gull-wings styled doors coupe coupled with small vents mounted on the side mirrors of the doors. (Picture from: PadFoot.org.uk)
Regarding the name of his car, which feels right and is thick with the Italian auras and styles, Raffo said that it was originally sparked by his wife when watching a Richard Attenborough program about Tigers on television. And when a tiger flashed across the screen, then his wife exclaimed, 'que bella belva,' which roughly means how beautiful it is. And he thought, Belva is a very good name and suitable for his next sports car model.
Interior view of the Raffo Belva sports car. (Picture from: RareComponentCars)
Shortly after that he began to design this car. When viewed from its appearance in a design that can be considered a bit retro with certain aspects adopting the existing sports car styles, for example as on the front similar to the Ferrari P4. Another inspiration is also seen in the barrel of the Belva which comes from planes and single-seater cars of the 50s. Besides that, Raffo also has special intentions on the mechanical side as well, where he wants it to be slightly smaller, or about 6-7 inches longer and wider than the Mini. Because according to John Raffo, a small car is actually easier to drive on British roads.
A quarter rear view of the Raffo Belva with gull-wings styled doors opened. (Picture from: RareComponentCars)
The prototype construction process began in the early 1990s, starting with scale models and progressing to building bodywork through a wooden-buck and molds. The bodywork uses GRP mounted on a box-section steel frame, with the engine mounted across the center of the rear of the chassis.
The Raffo Tipo 12 is built by John Raffo in mid of the 1980s focused for racing track only. (Picture from: RareComponentCars)
Once finished in the form of a full-size car which is then pinned by a 2.0 liter 4 cylinder engine derived from the Vauxhall Calibra. In terms of appearance, initially this car has conventional doors with a removable roof. Well, the next Belva was a closed-roof gullwing-styled coupe coupled with small vents mounted on the side mirrors of the doors. 
The Raffo Tipo 12 is built by John Raffo in mid of the 1980s focused for racing track only. (Picture from: RareComponentCars)
The finished product of Raffo was then sold in kit-car form, and was powered by a Zetec engine with transaxles from Ford Mondeo, not a Vauxhall unit. The steering rack is also taken from the Ford Sierra. While its disc brake system is used at the four corners of the legs connected by steel braided lines.
The Raffo Belva with some custom touches owned by Tony Rogers. (Picture from: RareComponentCars)
The kits shipped with the doors and gas struts installed, and glass pre-mounted. The whole assembly was powder coated at the factory. The front suspension was fully independent, with cast aluminum uprights, nylon bushed wishbones, anti-sway bars, and adjustable coil spring dampers. The rear arrangement was of a MacPherson type with steel uprights and adjustable dampening.
The Raffo Belva featured with fully independent suspension in front, with cast aluminum uprights, nylon bushed wishbones, anti-sway bars, and adjustable coil spring dampers. (Picture from: RareComponentCars)
While the chassis consisted of a multi-tubular 16 gauge, box-section, steel frame with heavy sill bars and integral roll-over protection. And the body was a single piece tub molding, with separate hood and trunk lid, as well as double skinned gullwing doors. The windshield was a bespoke item and the side-glass was Perspex.
The Raffo Belva powered by a Zetec engine with transaxles from Ford Mondeo, not a Vauxhall unit. (Picture from: RareComponentCars)
Despite the modest 135 bhp delivered from its Ford motor, the Belva was a spirited performer because the whole package only weighed 1,680 lbs. Handling was crisp and the steering quick, by virtue of its short wheelbase of just over 7 ft. Thanks to its light weight and slippery aerodynamics, the Belva delivered an acceleration of 0-60 mph under 6 seconds with a top speed of 145 mph.
The Raffo Belvetta or Belva Barchetta was built only one unit back in the 1997. (Picture from: RareComponentCars)
During its production period noted as many as 7 units of Belva were ever made by him, in addition to the prototype, as well as a one-off roadster version called 'Belvetta (Belva + Barchetta)' which was built in 1997.
The Raffo Belvetta or Belva Barchetta was built only one unit back in the 1997. (Picture from: RareComponentCars)
A few years later John Raffo retired and moved to Italy along with his wife and handed over the car manufacture project to Harlequin Autokits. It is not known if they produced any new cars and in 2005 the project changed hands again. And its current owner Mike Phillips intends to relaunch the car in an enlarged form to accommodate a larger motor and more passenger space.
Unfortunately in January 2016, John Raffo passed away at the age of 79.😢 Although now he would no longer be able to see 'his beautiful beast' will make return. Regardless, it's the best legacy for a passionate and creative man who touched the lives of many people through his works. RIP. *** [EKA | FROM VARIOUS SOURCES | RARECOMPONENTCARS MADABOUT-KITCARS ]
Note: This blog  can be accessed via your smart phone
Kindly Bookmark and Share it: