Giotto Bizzarrini, the Italian engineer and designer who had a hand in the greatest Gran Turismos ever made, has passed away last year. Flanders Collection Cars will bring a tribute to the founder of one of the rarest car brands, Bizzarrini. Founded in 1964, the Bizzarrini brand celebrates it’s 60th anniversary in 2024 as well.
Among many other sports and GT cars, Bizzarini was responsible for the development of the Ferrari 250 GTO, a racing and now collector car icon among the most sought-after objects in the collector world. He designed the V12 that would remarkably fit, among other places, transversely behind the seats and forward of the rear axle of the groundbreaking Lamborghini Miura. He created the Rivolta, Grifo A3/C, and Grifo Strada for Iso, as well as his own version of the Iso, the Bizzarrini GT Strada 5300 made by his own company. He went on to design many cars as an independent consultant. And only last February the Bizzarrini Company revealed plans for a Giugiaro-designed V12-powered supercar bearing the engineer’s name.
His prodigious career started after he received his engineering degree from the University of Pisa in 1953. After a short stint teaching, he went straight to Alfa Romeo, where he worked on the Giulietta, before becoming a test driver with a talent for troubleshooting.
“I became a test driver who coincidentally was also an engineer, with mathematical principles,” he’s quoted as saying on the website bizzarrini.com. “I always needed to know why something fails, so I can invent a solution.”
He was recruited to Ferrari in 1957 and soon found himself in charge of sports car and GT development there, overseeing the great 250 line of cars that included the 250 GT SWB, 250 Spider California, and the mighty 250 GTO, the latter a car which regularly sells in the upper eight figures on the rare occasions that someone is willing to part with one.
Leaving Ferrari as part of the infamous Palace Revolt, he co-founded ATS, the company formed by the revolutionaries who’d just left Ferrari. They made the ATS 2500 GT, among other projects.
He was hired by a private Ferrari owner to improve on his Ferrari 250 GTO for racing. The result was the famous Bread Van Ferrari, which featured a longer body for better aerodynamics, a lower ride height, and a dry sump that enabled the engine to ride lower in the body. While it did meet with some success, the Bread Van was never able to beat a GTO in a head-to-head race.
In 1962 Bizzarrini founded Societa Autostar as an engineering consulting firm, and in 1964 Ferruccio Lamborghini enlisted Bizzarrini to design the V12 for his new GT cars. That basic engine design was used starting with the 350 GT and appeared in different forms in subsequent cars for decades after.
Iso came calling next, and Societa Autostar developed the Iso Rivolta GT cars, until a disagreement with Iso saw Bizzarrini making his own versions of those cars under his own name. Among them, the Bizzarrini 5300 GT Strada was perhaps the most striking and is slowly being recognized by a broader audience as one of the most beautiful GTs ever created. The 5300 GT was styled by Giorgetto Giugiaro when he was still at Bertone.
Societa Autostar sadly went bankrupt in 1969 and ended the great engineer’s career as a car maker, at least under his own name. He continued to work on cars for numerous clients over the years, including such diverse projects as the American Motors AMX/3 and various projects for General Motors, Pininfarina, and many Japanese motorcycle companies.
In 2012, at the age of 86, Bizzarrini was granted an honorary doctorate in engineering from the University of Florence, recognizing his many talents in engineering, design, and racing.
Curated by some of our key partners like BEHVA we’ll present a car collection that honours the legacy of Giotto Bizzarrini.
You can visit this premium exposition from the 16th until the 18th of February at Flanders Expo, Ghent.