Bizzarrini 5300 GT Strada

Born to a family of engineers in Livorno, Tuscany, Giotto Bizzarrini graduated from the University of Pisa in July of 1953 with a degree in mechanical engineering. Shortly after graduation, Bizzarrini joined Alfa Romeo, moving swiftly through the ranks and advancing to the experimental department, where he contributed to the development of the Giulietta and became a skilled test driver.

Bizzarrini then moved to Ferrari as a test driver, but his engineering skills were quickly recognised, and he was made the head of the experimental department. In November 1961, an episode alternatively known as “The Purge” or the “Palace Revolt” occurred at Ferrari, sparked by the dismissal of Ferrari’s sales manager, which resulted in the mass departure of key engineering and development staff, including Bizzarrini. The defectors quickly formed ATS with the intention of rivaling Ferrari, but Bizzarrini soon left the new organization, electing to go it alone.

Convinced of the Grifo’s competition potential, Bizzarrini built his own version of the Grifo for racing and achieved great success, winning the GT class at Le Mans in 1964 and again in 1965. During this period, however, the relationship between Rivolta and Bizzarrini grew increasingly conflicted, while Iso continued to build road-going Grifos and Bizzarrini focused on racing. Since Bizzarrini had legally registered the Grifo name, a deal was ultimately struck to allow its use by Iso in exchange for enough parts to build a number of A3Cs, in “Strada” road-going form as well as “Corsa” variants for racing. While the Bizzarrini Strada was ostensibly a street car, its specifications read like those of an all-out competition car, with lightweight aluminium bodywork, a fabricated platform chassis and a semi-monocoque body riveted to the frame. This advanced chassis combined with near-perfect weight distribution, resulted in excellent handling. Output of the Chevrolet V-8 engine ranged between 365 and 400 horsepower, providing a claimed top speed of up to 180 miles per hour.

Because of Bizzarrini’s predilection for racing, as opposed to series-production of his creations, very few examples of the 5300 GT Strada were ultimately produced during an approximate six-year production run. Production estimates vary between 100 and 149 5300 GT Stradas, including perhaps 70 alloy-bodied examples. Many marque experts cite the reason for the low production to have been a loss of interest on the part of Bizzarrini, who had also developed a smaller GT car, the Europa 1900, first shown at Turin in 1966. By 1969, Bizzarrini production ended, with the engineer returning to private practice as a consultant for Opel and General Motors.

This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in October of 2011 at the Battersea Evolution, London.

365 hp, 5,359 cc Chevrolet Corvette overhead valve V-8 engine, four-speed manual transmission, independent front suspension via wishbones, coil springs, telescopic shocks, and anti-roll bar, De Dion tube, coil spring, hydraulic shocks, longitudinal struts, and anti-roll bar rear suspension, and four-wheel disc brakes. Wheelbase: 2,450 mm

Source: RM Auctions
Photo Credit: Copyright Tom Wood

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