The story of Bizzarini SpA is one of the most fascinating in automotive history. Here we have a new car manufacturer founded by ex-Alfa Romeo, Ferrari and ISO engineer Giotto Bizarini, taking the fight to one of the most famous Italian names. The story was short-lived, as it lasted only from 1964 to 1969. During those years, Bizzarini built around 140 cars, mostly on the ISO Grifo platform, which he helped develop while working with Renzo Rivolta for ISO Rivolta. Bizzarini cars are high-performance sports cars that can compete with the best of the day on the road and track. A classic example is the Bizzarini 5300 GT Corsa, which won the 5,000cc-and-over class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1965. Now the 5300 GT is back with Corsa Revival and it looks absolutely stunning!
Giotto Bizzarini worked as a racing designer and builder for several legendary Italian manufacturers and had a passion for racing. He worked for Alfa Romeo for three years after graduating as an engineer from the University of Pisa in 1953. He worked on the chassis development of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta, although he worked mostly on engine development. By 1957 he had left Alfa Romeo for Ferrari to become a test driver. He was quickly appointed to lead experimental sports and GT car developments. During his time working for Ferrari, he developed the 250 GT, the 250 Testa Rossa with its 3-liter V12 engine, and the 250 GT SWB.
His crowning glory for Cavallino Rampante, however, was the legendary Ferrari 250 GTO. Through a series of experiments, the 250 GT SWB (Short Wheel Base) evolved into the 250 GTO. It has a drastically redesigned body for better aerodynamic performance, with the engine mounted lower and further back in the chassis to improve handling. The car made history, and today is considered one of the best ever made. As Ferrari only built 36 of them, whenever one of the rare cars comes up for auction, records are broken. Giotto Bizzarini’s personal development 250 GT SWB prototypechassis #2463GT still exists with a unique body built by Mario Boiano.
After a major shake-up of Ferrari’s engineering staff, Giotto Bizarrini was one of five engineers who packed up and left to form Automobili Turismo e Sport, or ATS. The newly formed company aimed to build a GT-type sports car as well as a Formula 1 car. The company failed to win just 5 races in F1 and only 12 road cars were built before the company went bankrupt.
In 1962 Count Giovanni Volpi hired Giotto Bizzarini to convert the Ferrari 250 GT SWB into the GTO, much to Ferrari’s chagrin. Refused to sell Count Volpi a new 250 GT SWB chassis, Bizzarri had to make do with a used one. The result was the Ferrari Breadvan, with a unique aerodynamic shape and a roof section that extended to the rear of the car.
Giotto Bizzarini would also be hired to develop cars for Iso Autoveicoli Spa, popularly known as Iso Revolta. This included the ISO Rivolta IR 300 and ISO Griffo sports cars, but the collaboration between Giotto and Renzo Rivolta ended due to a fallout over ISO’s racing program. Giotto soldiered on under his own name, rebuilding the ISO Griffon into the 5300 GT Strada and Corsa. The 5300 GT is very similar to the Griffo with its low-slung body designed by Giugiaro in the Italian style of the 1960s. Equipped with a 5.3 liter Chevrolet V8, the 5300 GT can accelerate from 0 to 100kph in under 7 seconds and reach a top speed of 280kph (174mph). Chassis 0222 took a class win and ninth overall finish at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1965, the 5300 GT Corsa’s greatest racing success.
In 2020, Bizzarini’s story will enter a new era as Pegasus Brands buys the rights to the name and announces plans to revive it. The first result of that effort was the Bizzarini 5300 GT Corsa Revival, which you can see in pictures here. Car industry expert and businessman Dr. Under the direction of Ulrich Helmut Bez, former Aston Martin CEO, the 5300 GT Corsa was meticulously rebuilt. It was built using original blueprints, parts from original suppliers and input from professionals and experts. The original panel, which was hidden from light when it was first painted somewhere between 1964 and 1969, was used to determine the exact tone in which red Bizzarri painted his cars. Bizarini color-matched the Revival car, dubbed the Rosso Corsa.
The Bizzarini 5300 GT Corsa Revival sees some updates on the original race car, such as a composite body instead of the fiberglass original and a newly shaped fuel cell designed using 3D scanning technology to achieve the best possible fit inside the chassis. An FIA Historic Racing Compliant six-point roll cage has also been installed, ensuring that each of the 24 cars to be built will be eligible for FIA-sanctioned historic events. The body features a livery inspired by the race car it is based on, with white round accents and black numbers on the hood, doors and rear.
It’s surprising that Giotto Bizzarini squeezed a massive 5.3-liter Chevrolet V8 into the nose of the car, considering the tightly covered body. The engine is mounted as low as possible and backed up as much as possible thanks to a dry-sump oil system that shaves much-needed inches off the engine’s overall height. The revival car will see the same engine fitted with Weber 45 DCOE carburetors. Power goes through a manual gearbox and is fed to the rear wheels only. The upgraded independent suspension and disc brakes ensure that it stays on the road as well as possible. Weighing in at 1,250 kg, with corner-to-corner weight distribution, and more than 400 horsepower on tap, the 5300 GT Corsa Revival is sure to be a powerful racer in the hands of someone with a bit of skill.
The plan was to build each of the 24 cars as close as possible to the original 1965 Le Mans contender, with the aforementioned modern upgrades here and there. However, it is possible to register the car for road use, which is an absolute riot to experience! You can also opt for a full carbon fiber body if you want, but that means you can no longer compete in historic racing events under FIA regulations. Each customer can specify his or her desire for a Bizzare 5300 GT Corsa Revival, but I sincerely hope that each one looks as shown in the pictures. This is simply a wonderful project and it does justice to Giotto Bizarini’s legacy.
For more information, please visit Bizzarini.com