Here’s a sentence I never expected to say: Bizzarrini has announced a new car. Now, there are two typical responses to that sentence. One is your eyes lighting up like you just received a bicycle on Christmas day, the other is wondering what the hell a Bizzarrini is. If you fall into that second camp, don’t worry. We’re here to help.
In the beginning, there was Bizzarrini, the man. Giotto Bizzarrini wasn’t your average kid from a wealthy background. He aspired to build cars, and build cars he did. After studying engineering and having a brief stint at Alfa Romeo, he joined Ferrari and started having a hand in some of the finest cars the world has ever seen. Bizzarrini was involved in the 250 Testa Rossa, the 250 GT SWB Berlinetta, and the 250 GT 2+2. In its early stages, the Ferrari 250 GTO was developed by Bizzarrini using his personal 250 GT. As far as legendary Ferraris go, he helped a solid number of them along. However, his stint at Ferrari wouldn’t last.
In 1961, the fight happened. According to GP Today, Ferrari’s management team was tired of arguing with Enzo Ferrari’s wife Laura Dominica Garello about the business, and members, including Bizzarrin, split from the prancing horse, almost killing Ferrari in the process. Facing an uncertain future, Bizzarrini and his colleagues set up shop as Automobili Turismo e Sport (ATS for short), and ended up building the holy grail of Ferrari 250s.
In 1962, Enzo Ferrari was a bit cross with Count Giovanni Volpi and wouldn’t sell him a 250 GTO. No problem, Count Volpi would make his own, presumably with blackjack and hookers. He enlisted Bizzarrini and the team at ATS to convert a regular 250 GT into a 250 GTO. However, things got a little crazier than that with a coachbuilt body that featured a dramatic kammtail. The Breadvan was born, and it scored multiple class wins in its inaugural racing season.
In addition to the Breadvan, something else important happened in 1962 – Bizzarrini set up a firm for freelance engineering projects. He soon got a call from someone who was very cross with Enzo Ferrari, one Ferruccio Lamborghini. Lamborghini needed an engine, and he was allegedly willing to pay Bizzarrini a bonus for every horsepower this engine made over Ferrari’s V12. The result was a twelve-cylinder masterpiece. It was capable of 11,000 rpm, and was continually revised and punched out from 3.5 liters to 6.5 liters in a production run that spanned more than four and a half decades. Every V12 Lamborghini from the first 3500GT to the last Murcielago used a version of Bizzarini’s V12, which means you could honestly say that without Bizzarrini, Lamborghini might not be the company it is today.
So, some of the most iconic Ferraris ever made and the legacy of Lamborghini. What else did Bizzarrini have his hand in? In addition to helping Iso Rivolta, he also made cars, the most famous of which was the 5300 GT.
If you’re expecting the 5300 GT to feature some fire-breathing V12, check your expectations at the door. This coupe was a brilliant combination of Italian design with American hardware. Under the hood sat a Chevrolet 327 V8 tucked as far back in the engine bay as possible, which drove the rear wheels through a Borg-Warner T-10 manual gearbox. The result was Ferrari-like pace without the Ferrari-like fiddliness. It’s a vintage Italian high-performance car that in theory, simply works. What’s more, it came clothed in some wild Giugiaro-styled bodywork.
Sadly, Bizzarrini S.p.A only lasted from 1964 until 1969, after which it closed up shop and Bizzarrini, the man, set about taking part in some other projects. However, after roughly five decades of dormancy, Bizzarrini the marque is back.
Owned by a Saudi Arabian car dealer and with facilities in the U.K., the new Bizzarrini isn’t quite as Italian as the old Bizzarrini. However, it does force a raised eyebrow or two with its rather unique business plan. Currently, Bizzarrini is building revival versions of the old 5300 GT, but it expects to soon start development on a brand new supercar called the Giotto that promises a bit of an old-school recipe.
Instead of a downsized V8, expect to see a full-fat naturally-aspired V12 behind the driver, one that’s of Bizzarrini’s own design. That sounds a bit shocking considering the impending combustion engine ban in Europe, but Bizzarrini’s looking to send the dino-burning era out with a bang. Said engine will be attached to an eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox, and the whole car will be clocked in pleasant carbon fiber bodywork penned by Giorgetto and Fabrizio Giugiaro. Sounds like a good formula if you ask me.
There’s proper talent behind the reborn firm too. Chief Technology Officer Chris Porritt has experience at Aston Martin, Rimac, and Tesla, while CEO Ian Fenton previously worked at Ford of Europe, Jaguar Land Rover, and Aston Martin.
Testing is said to start in 2024 and specs of the Bizzarrini Giotto are expected to be released closer to that time. While I’d love to see Bizzarrini succeed, it could all go horribly wrong, as is often the fate of supercar startups. Think the perpetually-delayed reborn TVR, for example. Still, as far as news to lighten your day goes, a new Bizzarrini is pretty good. Wouldn’t it be lovely if it succeeds?
(Lead photo credit: Bizzarrini)
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