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Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Forbidden Breed: Rotary-Engined Ferrari 456 GT Transformation

Forbidden Breed - Creativity should be like an endless ocean, but in reality, it faces relative limitations. When confronted with the constraints of intellectual property rights, creative individuals often face tough choices. These choices can halt the creative process and sometimes result in sanctions from rights holders to prevent others from following suit.
Reuben Bemrose made an unusual modification to a badly damaged 1995 Ferrari 456 GT, similar to the one in the picture, by swapping its V12 engine with a Mazda RX-7's 13B rotary engine. (Picture from: 1News.co.nz)
A gentleman in New Zealand embarked on a unique automotive project, modifying a Ferrari 456 GT in an unusual way. Instead of retaining the original engine, he opted for a Mazda Rotary engine. This intriguing transformation was a challenging and enjoyable creative process for him, though Ferrari, as the brand owner, did not receive it well.
Reuben Bemrose completed his Ferrari 456 GT's unusual modification, dubbed 'Rotorrari,' in two weeks at a cost of around NZD $13,000 (approximately Rp. 116 million). (Picture from: Autoevolution)
The story began with a 1995 Ferrari 456 GT, a four-passenger Grand Tourer powered by a 5.5-liter V12 engine and a six-speed manual transmission. In its prime, it was one of the fastest four-seater cars globally, capable of producing up to 442 PS, a significant achievement in the mid-90s.
Bemrose's Ferrari 456 GT front end was reconstructed with the addition of a new tubular steel frame and the placement of a 13B rotary engine. (Picture from: Autoevolution)
Years later, Reuben Bemrose, the owner of R's Garage workshop, found a neglected, damaged Ferrari 456 GT, seemingly beyond economical repair. However, he saw an opportunity to give the car a second life with an unconventional twist: replacing the V12 with a Wankel 13B Rotary engine. He bought it and completed an unusual modification in two weeks at a cost of around NZD $13,000 (approximately Rp. 116 million). Bemrose explained to 1News, "I thought it would be fun." The transformed Ferrari, now called Rotorrari, made its debut at New Zealand's largest rotary festival back in the 2020.
Reuben Bemrose posed with his modified Ferrari 456 GT during an interview with local media 1News. (Picture from: Autoevolution)
The sight of a Ferrari 456 GT with a Mazda engine attracted significant attention. The unusual modification, characterized by the rotary engine's distinct "brap-brap" sound, quickly became a media sensation and the uproar reached Ferrari, who contacted Bemrose with strong words but did not issue a formal cease-and-desist letter. Bemrose recounted how he found the damaged Ferrari, worth over $100,000 when functional. Acquiring it for almost nothing due to its condition, he was inspired to replace the malfunctioning V12 with the Wankel engine, driven by curiosity and fun rather than practicality.

Bemrose acknowledged Ferrari's protectiveness over their brand. "I understand they are quite protective about their image and brand," he said. "I just took the iconic V12 out of the car and put in the iconic New Zealand engine.” He added humorously, “I think they felt that I was damaging the brand image, but I wasn't."
A view of the Mazda RX-7's 13B rotary engine installed in the Ferrari's engine bay. (Picture from: Autoevolution)
Ferrari's strict stance on brand integrity is well-known. This isn't the first time the Italian automaker has intervened in owner modifications. Jean 'Beurlys' Blaton was never again allowed to own a Prancing Horse-badged sports car after he modified the legendary Ferrari F40 LM into the Ferrari F40 LM Barchetta. Similarly, DJ Deadmau5 faced backlash for altering the logo on his 458 Italia, humorously renamed "Purrari."

Despite Ferrari's displeasure, Bemrose offered a tongue-in-cheek apology while wearing Ferrari merchandise. He expressed respect for Ferrari's brand protection, humorously saying, “Dear Ferrari, I am very sorry, I did not mean to disparage your brand. Can't you see I just want to be friends?”
A side view of the Mazda RX-7's 13B rotary engine installed in the Ferrari's engine bay. (Picture from: Autoevolution)
While Ferrari may not find the situation amusing, Bemrose's playful approach and the resulting Rotorrari have left a lasting impression on car enthusiasts worldwide. This project underscores the creative spirit and boldness that drive automotive innovation, even if it occasionally ruffles the feathers of iconic brands. Bemrose's ingenuity and willingness to push boundaries exemplify the passion and excitement that fuel the world of car enthusiasts. His work on the Rotorrari serves as a reminder that creativity knows no bounds, even when it challenges established norms and brand identities.
The fascinating journey of this Ferrari 456 GT, from a neglected piece of automotive history to a vibrant, roaring drift car, captures the imagination of many. Bemrose's fun fearless approach to modifications demonstrates that sometimes, the most remarkable innovations come from thinking outside the box. The Rotorrari stands as a testament to the power of creativity and the joy of pushing the limits, inspiring future car enthusiasts to explore their own unique paths. *** [EKA | FROM VARIOUS SOURCES | 1NEWS.CO.NZ | WHICHCAR.AU | AUTOEVOLUTION | THEDRIVE ]
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