Bizzarrini kicked ass!

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Het is weer tijd voor een stukje historie! In het verleden zijn er veel memorabele en bewonderenswaardige creaties ontstaan uit onvrede of als gevolg van ruzies. Ik wil hier graag twee van mijn helden bespreken die iets bijzonders hebben neergezet als gevolg van de beruchte "Palace Revolt" (paleisopstand) bij Ferrari, eind oktober, 1961. Dit is in het kort het verhaal van Giotto Bizzarrini, Graaf Giovanni Volpi di Misurata en hun befaamde Ferrari 'Breadvan'. Met toelichting van Graaf Volpi himself!

De ‘Breadvan’ is een coachbuilt racewagen op basis van een 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB. De Franse pers noemde dit model bij het verschijnen aan de start van Le Mans 1962 “La Cammionette”, vanwege de stationwagon-achtige achterkant. De Engelsen noemden het vreemde verschijnsel ‘Breadvan’.

Breadvan

Dit model was ontwikkeld om op Le Mans de strijd aan te gaan met de gloednieuwe Ferrari 250 GTO. Uit wraak… De Paleisrevolutie bij Ferrari was een ruzie tussen Enzo’s vrouw (en dus ook met Enzo zelf) en een grote groep belangrijke medewerkers. Een heleboel technici, waaronder Giotto Bizzarrini en coureur Phill Hill, stapten op.

Graaf Volpi: “The Breadvan was designed by Giotto Bizzarrini, the inventor and constructor of the prototype GTO. If Bizzarrini had stayed at Ferrari and would have made an evolution of the GTO the following year, he would have made the Breadvan.

Over de ontwikkeling van de 250 GTO door Bizzarrini vertelt de Graaf het volgende: “Ferrari asked him to make something, whatever he wanted, but on the cheap. Bizzarrini locked himself with four or five mechanics in a side garage in the Maranello compound and tinkered with the only thing they had, a SWB. Cut, file, hammer and scrape, they came up in short time with the sorry-looking ‘Anastasia’ (derogatory expression for ugly women in Modena jargon).

Anastasia

The GTO was also somewhat lighter than the SWB and the dry oil sump which lowered the engine, lowering the center of gravity, and the 5 gears made it handle much better. Bizzarrini left (was fired with all his colleagues) Ferrari very soon after, and the Anastasia’s lines were slightly smoothed and the spoiler was added. Only then, when the car was finished, did someone make a drawing so not to seem incompetent.

Anastasia

The body was hammered in-house, no one had designed it. It only followed logically around what was there. But the car was faster because of the nose, the lower frontal profile and last but not least, the different inclination of the windshield, probably its principal feature.

Giotto Bizzarrini voltooide de ontwikkeling van ‘zijn’ 250 GTO dus niet. Scaglietti gaf de GTO haar definitieve vorm en Mauro Forghieri werkte de auto technisch verder af. Samen met Carlo Chiti en met financiële steun van Graaf Volpi, richtte Bizzarrini het bedrijf ATS (Automobili Turismo Sport) op. Enzo Ferrari was daar niet blij mee, want ATS werd een concurrent op de circuits. Het is overigens niet de eerste keer dat Ferrari concurrentie kreeg als gevolg van flinke ruzies, want ook Ferruccio Lamborghini besloot de strijd met Ferrari aan te gaan na een zoveelste ruzie met Enzo over de slechte kwaliteit van zijn Ferrari. “If you think you can do it better, do it yourself!” En dat is precies wat Lamborghini toen is gaan doen.

Graaf Volpi was al jaren een belangrijke klant van Ferrari met o.a. meerdere 250 GT SWB’s en een 250 TR in zijn raceteam Scuderia Serenissima Republica di Venezia (SSR). Voor het seizoen 1962 had Volpi twee 250 GTO’s in bestelling staan.

Graaf Volpi: “The Breadvan was made in an emergency as Ferrari recanted on delivering me the very first two GTO’s because of the ATS affair. Enzo called one day saying “You’re a traitor, forget the GTOs.” We never spoke again until 1980.
I called Bizzarrini who had already left ATS because of frictions with Chiti and he said “No problem, we can do a lot better.” And he did.

Bizzarrini nam een 250 GT SWB (#2819 GT) en plaatste de motor 12 cm verder achterwaarts dan de GTO en dankzij een dry sump systeem kon het blok ook lager gemonteerd worden. De carrosserie werd met aanwijzingen van Bizzarrini door Piero Drogo gemaakt en het totaal was uiteindelijk zo’n 100 kg lichter dan de GTO. De topsnelheid op het lange rechte stuk van Mulsanne was zo’n 7 km/u hoger dan die van de GTO’s, wat geheel te danken is aan de betere aerodynamica.

Breadvan

Graaf Volpi: “Bizzarrini had three rules to this day. Distribute weight properly; be as light as possible within security, as low as possible, and present the least resistance to air. Nothing else.

Bang voor de grote potentie van de Breadvan, gebruikten Enzo Ferrari en Luigi Chinetti (USA importeur) hun invloed bij de organisatie van Le Mans om de Breadvan te weren.

Graaf Volpi: “At Le Mans ‘62 the organizers tried to prevent us from racing. First they said the car was not decorously painted. So we added a little. Then they were not happy because it did not have a rear wiper although the rear end would hopelessly be fuel, oil and rubber smeared after three laps. We fitted one from a Topolino or a military Jeep. Very pissed, not knowing what else to pretend, after that they would not let us into GT class. Chinetti was relentlessly putting oil on the fire because his precious GT clients could not match our lap times and might have questioned his influence (to favor them), the organizers were obediently at Ferrari’s service, and if we had insisted further we would not have raced although we would have won hands down at the Sports Tribunal.

De Breadvan werd ingedeeld in de prototypeklasse.

Graaf Volpi: “In the first laps the Breadvan was already out of sight from the GTOs and the lead kept building up. She was with the rear-engined Ferrari protos. All was going so well and at the 4th hour the Breadvan’s drive shaft gave in. Some time later one of the TRi’s half shafts broke. But that’s Le Mans for you.

Carlo Mario Abate, the best Italian driver of his time and one of the best in the world, was on the Breadvan with Colin Davis. He had tried a normal GTO in Italy, but after the Breadvan’s pre-race trials at Le Mans he said, “With this car you can paint!” so precisely it was doing everything he wanted.

Breadvan

Later dat jaar won de Breadvan twee GT-klasse overwinningen en zette hij zelfs een ronderecord.

Graaf Volpi: “A few months later, at the Ollon-Villars hill climb race, two GTOs withdrew when they saw us arrive.

Erg bijzonder allemaal voor een auto die in slechts 14 dagen gebouwd was en geen testprogramma af had kunnen werken.

Graaf Volpi: “Racing is a bit like the theatre. You work hard and with enthusiasm at home and when the starting flag goes down you’re kind of out of it and have to let the cards fall, there isn’t much you can do (in endurance races). All I can say is that the Breadvan, mostly it’s making in less than 14 days and then its superb performance was by far the most intimate satisfaction of my racing years. And, I guess, also Bizzarrini’s for his own reasons.

Breadvan

De Graaf vervolgt: “Later I used the Breadvan as a road car, looking during the long trips for some Ferrari to humiliate.

De Breadvan is nog korte tijd in gebruik geweest door Fiat-baas Agnelli, die hem voor de grap gedeeltelijk zwart had laten schilderen, omdat hij hem op een lijkwagen vond lijken…

Breadvan showrooom

Bizzarrini heeft een bijzondere creatie neergezet die bovendien een eerdere creatie van hemzelf, de 250 GTO diende te verslaan en daar ook in slaagde. Jammer van die gebroken aandrijfstang…
De Breadvan is geen door Ferrari officieel erkend model, want daar was in de tijd van de vele onafhankelijke coachbuilders helemaal geen sprake van. De auto droeg destijds echter geen Ferrari-logo’s, maar is wel in de Ferrari-historieboeken opgenomen en is inmiddels een aanzienlijk geldbedrag (meerdere miljoenen) waard. In de handen van een Duitser doet de Breadvan, na een restauratie door Alwin Hietbrink, weer veelvuldig mee aan officiële Historische Challenges.

Breadvan
Breadvan met Alwin Hietbrink
Breadvan 16

Toevallig is het 250 GT SWB chassis waar Bizzarrini destijds het prototype van de GTO ‘Anastasia’ op ontwikkelde via een omweg weer bij de Scuderia Serenissima Republica di Venezia van Graaf Volpi terecht gekomen. Het chassis was in de tussentijd weer voorzien van een standaard SWB-carrosserie, maar in handen van de Graaf werden alle principes van Bizzarrini er weer op toegepast met onderstaande beauty als resultaat. Wederom met een carrosserie van Piero Drogo.

2053GT
2053GT

Ondanks de verouderde SWB-techniek was de auto snel… Te snel…
Zie onderstaande foto… Misschien rustte er een vloek op het chassis?

2053GT

De resten van de Drogo Ferrari 250 GT SWB #2053GT schijnen nog te bestaan, maar de auto is nooit herbouwd. Gelukkig is het de Breadvan beter vergaan en doet hij nog steeds waar hij door Bizzarrini en Drogo voor gebouwd was: racen! En ook nu rijdt hij met veel liefde zijn oude concurrenten, de officiële 250 GTO’s, het snot voor de ogen.

Breadvan racing

De laatste wijze woorden zijn voor Graaf Volpi: “One more thing: Real women aren’t picked up anymore with cars, or planes or yachts for that matter. It is culturally obsolete, and the intrinsic quality of the eventual ‘pick-up’ is inversely proportional to the price of the vehicle.

Best,
Giovanni (Volpi)

Met dank aan mede-FerrariChat-lid ‘CDM’ Gary.



50 reacties

hahah die pizzabakker! Geweldig. Tis en blijft een aparte auto.
Dit heb ik met plezier uitgelezen. Wat een wagens zijn toch toch. Ook de ‘breadvan’. Erg spijtig van die gecrashte Bizzarrini want die zag er geweldig uit. Misschien dat Vandenbrink er maar eens mee aan de slag moet gaan ;)
Zeer gaaf stuk! Mijn complimenten en dank!
@Michiel: heerlijk stukje! zeer interessant.
Leuk om te lezen dat er meer mensen een hekel aan Ferrari hebben ;)
“Hoe duurder de auto, hoe goedkoper de vrouwen die je ermee oppikt?” Interessante theorie!
Erg tof verhaal over een erg interessante auto. Nog van dat!
@ autoblogger: Pas op, hè! Ik heb geen hekel aan Ferrari. Daarnaast heb ik wel veel bewondering voor de ‘vrije geesten’ die nieuwe initiatieven zijn gestart, zowel op basis van Ferrari’s als geheel eigen producten.
@Michiel: let op de smiley die ik gebruikte.
lmao die pizzabakker, bakken onder het rijden boven op den motor van den auto. wel orgineel natuurlijk :D
of zit die motor nou voorin ? he bah, daar gaat mijnen opmerking :x
Mooi verhaal.
Het is toch wel een beetje een jongensdroom. Je bouwt in no-time een auto om het de gevestigde orde moeilijk te maken en je slaagt hier in.

@Michiel van den Brink.

Krijg jij al kriebels voor een Le Mans Proto?
@ mx5-owner: Ik krijg kriebels van zoveel dingen. ;) Le Mans zou zeker fantastisch zijn, maar de tijden zijn veranderd.
Ik heb daar eerder al een column over geschreven: http://www.autoblog.nl/archive/2007/08/31/revive-the-gtx
Heel leuk, ook dat je hem bij hietbrink bent tegengekomen…

Mooi stuk, leuke geschiedenis….. maar toch weer de 250GTO…?


Graag zou ik nog eens zo’n stukje tegenkomen van aldo Brovarone…. heb jij daar meer van??
@ autoblogger: ohja ;)
Deze auto stond op een veiling in 2005 echter werd het minimum bod van $ 3.000.000 niet gehaald. Daarna is deze auto nooit meer in de verkoop verschenen.
Hoop dat die laatste theorie ook omgekeerd geldt…hoe goedkoper het voertuig, hoe ‘classier’ de dame in kwestie (veelbelovende theorie, wetende dat ik slechts een tweewieler tot mijn beschikking heb ) ;)
@ Chrizzzie: de echte waarde wordt meestal buiten de veilingen om bepaald.
De auto is ooit erg slecht gerestaureerd met een veel te hoge, botte neus en veel te dikke spatborden. Nu hij weer helemaal in originele Le Mans ’62 conditie is en in de handen van Werner weer meer in de openheid treedt, is de prijs flink gestegen.

Graaf Volpi heeft de auto destijds overigens voor slechts $3000,- verkocht. ;)
Prachtig verhaal, die #2053GT is mooi… :shock:
Heel mooi. Maar GTO blijft God.
Prachtig stukje geschiedenis en wat een wagen, ook al is de GTO esthetisch niet te overklassen.
@ Jimmie: helemaal mee eens. Scaglietti heeft er de mooiste auto aller tijden van gemaakt.
Al ben ik wel benieuwd wat Bizzarrini van de ’64-er gemaakt zou hebben wanneer hij met Scaglietti aan de GTO-update had kunnen/mogen werken.

Dit is wat Pininfarina er in 1964 van maakte:
http://www.student.oulu.fi/~jasu/pics/cars/Ferrari_250_GTO_64.gif
geweldige verhalen, geweldige auto’s. Ik kan me voorstellen dat jij (Michiel) hier ontzettend veel inspiratie uit haalt.

Dat is ook één van de dingen wat de Italiaanse sportwagenmerken zo bijzonder maakt, de verhalen van temperamentvolle Italianen die hun ruzies met elkaar uitvechten door prachtige, bloedsnelle wagens te bouwen.

Genieten!
Zeer mooie wagen. En een buitengewoon boeiend verhaal om te lezen.
Idd hulde aan Michiel om dit te brengen.
Mooi stukje dit. Altijd mooi om achter het verhaal van een auto te komen.

*klein beetje zeikmodus aan*….maarre, aandrijfstang? ik weet wat een drijfstang is en een aandrijfas ook, maar een combinatie van die 2 ken ik nog niet….;)*klein beetje zeikmodus uit*
@ Cerbera: aandrijf-drijfstang-as-dinges…. aandrijfas dus. ;)
leuk om te lezen Michiel, helemaal met doe schitterende plaatjes er bij. thanks!
Michiel jij brengt deze site naar een hoger niveau! Pravo!
@Michiel, toevallig nog op Auto Moto Italia 2005 geweest? Die stond in het teken van Bizzarrini, hij schijnt zelf ook aanwezig te zijn geweest op de zaterdag al heb ik ‘m niet gezien. Herinner me de prachtige creaties nog wel.

2 foto’tjes die ik zo even vond:
http://aycu11.webshots.com/image/46970/2001000221154042889_rs.jpg
http://aycu13.webshots.com/image/49332/2001036024791446878_rs.jpg
Inderdaad een geweldig verhaal Michiel :)

Over Bizzarrini heb ik ooit nog eens een stukje over geschreven in wikipedia: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bizzarrini en http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giotto_Bizzarrini

Ook die Bizzarrini 5300 GT Strada ziet er geweldig uit overigens:
http://www.carbodydesign.com/archive/2006/08/13-new-strada-supercar-project/1969-Bizarinni-Strada-GT-5300-lg.jpg
Hulde voor dit soort inside artikelen, erg leuk om te lezen!
@ Lennart: Leuk! Voeg dan ook maar gelijk de relatie tussen Graaf Volpi en Bizzarrini toe!

Mail me eens, als je wil, dan stuur ik je de volledige tekst van Graaf Volpi en de complete historie van de Breadvan.
Geweldige verhalen uit de tijd dat alles kon en alles blijkbaar mocht.

Graag meer van dit soort leesvoer uit de oude doos! Zo’n geschiedenisles is wat mij betreft vaste kost voor alle autoliefhebbers.
Mooi verhaal weer Michiel.

Erg inspirerend om te zien hoe het heden vaak paralellen heeft met het verleden. De mooiste auto’s ontstaan en ontstonden vaak uit een select en eigenzinnig gezelschap met elk hun eigen discipline.
Nu maar hopen dat jij het Carlo Chiti stadium weet te vermijden ;)
@ Damoklets: duim maar voor ons dan!
Ik heb echter geen Ferrari-verleden als Chiti…
Onze aerodynamica specialist weer wel, evenals Edo van EDO COMPETITION.
Ah weer iets over klassiekers, mooie “column” :D

P.S.Zou ik soms een wallpaper formaat kunnen krijgen van die eerste foto?
@ dekster: die heb ik helaas niet in groter formaat.
@Michiel

Ik denk dat je mijn duimen niet nodig hebt… Maar duim er al op los, just in case ;)
Wat Stijn schrijft om 14:24 !!!!

Complimenten voor Michiel!!!
leuk verhaal over de beste auto-naam ooit ..
@ Jordey & Rik L

Pizzabakker?
@ Zorn: ze bedoelen waarschijnlijk die bakker op de foto.
Dat is de bakker van de enige echte Haaksbergense stokbroden. :)
Fijn leesvoer weer. Je hoeft Michiel’s artikelen overigens niet eens te lezen om te zien dat ze van zijn hand zijn: ze zijn namelijk in tegenstelling tot de rest van de artikelen hier behoorlijk serieus en volwassen ;)

Klein foutje: je hebt Phil Hill verkeerd geschreven (Phil staat er met dubbel ‘l’)
Heerlijk dit soort verhalen! Thanx Michiel.

De Breadvan vond ik altijd een draak in vergelijking met de GTO

Ik heb overigens nog een idee als basis voor een Coachbuilding project (waarbij het origineel niet eenvoudig te overtreffen is, maar da’s wel zo uitdagend).
1965 Iso Rivolta Daytona:
http://i66.photobucket.com/albums/h254/Dinkel_photos/648174.jpg

Iso’s en Bizza’s zijn op het moment Dinks favoriet
http://i66.photobucket.com/albums/h254/Dinkel_photos/Spa30092006/PA012903-1.jpg
Bendall’s Bizza staat nog steeds te koop: 465 pk 327 V8.

http://i66.photobucket.com/albums/h254/Dinkel_photos/Spa30092006/PA012621.jpg
Dat zeg ik: Webers op hun mooist, dikke 48 mm aanzuigertjes.
@Dink: ik denk eigenlijk dat ik de Iso’s nog mooier vindt dan de Bizzarrini’s al is de 1900 GT europa toch ook wel mooi
http://www.ritzsite.net/Archive/Bizzarrini_1900_GT_Europa_1969.JPG

En deze ATS 2500 GT Scaglione is ook wel echt prachtig.
http://www.motorsportscenter.com/uploads/ats_full_shot.jpg
Tijdens de Auto Moto Italia 2005 beurs stonden tevens enkele bijzondere Italiaanse sportwagens tentoongesteld, Bizzarini’s. Dat zegt waarschijnlijk niets, maar Giotto Bizzarini is in een naam te noemen met mannen als Enzo Ferrari, Renzo Rivolta en Ferruccio Lamborghini. Heel bijzonder was het dan ook te noemen dat er gelegenheid was om Bizzarini (79 jaar) persoonlijk te spreken.

http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/1226/1749/1600/HPIM0742.jpg

Voor de echte ‘die-hards’ heb ik nog een korte biografie (engelstalig) opgenomen over het leven van Bizzarini.

Italian men of the last century had an astonishing ability to build sports cars by the sheer force of their egos. Enzo Ferrari and Ferruccio Lamborghini are two names that clearly fit this bill, and one lesser known but no less influential name is Giotto Bizzarini. This tough-talking Tuscan blazed a trail through the Italian Gran Turismo scene that left tires smoking through the 1960s and collectors grinning clear through to the new millennium.
Bizzarrini was born in the small coastal town of Quercianella near Livorno in Tuscany in 1926. Descended from a long line of engineers, young Giotto took on the family trade but only after a wild youth spent largely in the forest, hunting and fishing as World War II raged around him. He developed a fierce independence and survivalist mentality that, coupled with the typically Tuscan tendency toward blunt speech and sometimes tactless sarcasm, made him a formidable presence in the workplace.

To complete his degree in engineering at the University of Pisa, Bizzarrini built an entire car as his thesis (see sidebar). After a short stint as a teacher, that running resume netted him a job at Alfa Romeo as test driver in its experimental department. With his engineering background, his ability to hear, feel and sense problems before they blew up or damaged other parts of the prototypes earned him immediate respect and advancement.

But Bizzarrini had only been at Alfa for a few years when he heard that one of Ferrari’s test drivers had unexpectedly died, leaving an opening. Ferrari, too, preferred engineer-drivers, and thanks to a cousin who knew the brother of Ferrari’s operations director, young Giotto got an interview. Ferrari hired him in February 1957. He rose quickly through the ranks; by 1958 he was made head of Controlling and Testing for Production and soon after rose to Controller of Experimental, Sports and GT Car Development.

At Ferrari, Bizzarrini’s greatest challenge arose as a direct response to the 1961 debut of the impressive Jaguar E-Type. Ferrari wanted a new car that would beat it, and he wanted it fast. This would be the first Ferrari to be designed and built–from engine through to the final body–entirely within the experimental department. Ferrari wanted the project kept secret, so Bizzarrini hand-picked four trustworthy engineers and immediately tackled the project, using the Ferrari 250 Short Wheel Base as the starting point. The result of their efforts would be the 250 GTO, Ferrari’s last great front-engined racer.

However, Bizzarrini would not be there to celebrate the GTO’s completion. In November 1961, Bizzarrini and several colleagues would leave Ferrari in the famous “Walkout” precipitated by Ferrari’s impetuous firing of the popular commercial manager Gardini. Almost immediately, racing aristocrat Count Volpi of Scuderia Serenissima hired the four top ex-Ferrari engineers to create the new ATS, envisioned as a Ferrari-beating GT. However, personalities and politics caused Bizzarrini to leave that company after incorporation but before the new car was built.

At the same time, an invitation had come from another new car manufacturer, Iso. Milan industrialist Renzo Rivolta–holder of another formidable ego–had turned the former refrigerator manufacturer into a successful motorcycle and small-car company (creating the tiny one-cylinder car that was licensed to BMW as the Isetta). Renzo had grand plans to build a luxury GT, and earlier collaboration with the Briton John Gordon resulted in a prototype called the Gordon GT. This was the car Rivolta asked Bizzarrini to test drive (it would later be known as the Gordon Keeble).

Though Bizzarrini found much to dislike, one thing he absolutely adored was the car’s motor–a Corvette 327 V8. As Bizzarrini later told author Winston Goodfellow, “It was my first time driving one, and I was shocked. It was superior to Ferrari’s engines, offering the same power with more immediate throttle response. I remember telling Mr. Rivolta that it was fantastic, and that the Gordon had more acceleration than the Ferraris of the era.”

Thanks to Bizzarrini’s assessment, Rivolta decided not to pursue the Gordon but to instead start from scratch with his own, self-named GT powered by the same Corvette engine. Rivolta hired Bizzarrini to bring the car to life, and the first step was building the chassis. Bizzarrini, coming from Ferrari, argued for a spaceframe tube chassis, but Rivolta insisted that his car would be mass-produced and therefore would need a stamped steel platform and monocoque chassis. Rivolta won that argument, but Bizzarrini’s insightful engineering helped produce a complex but very efficient platform that was not only easier to mass produce but substantially increased the car’s rigidity without increasing its weight.

By the time the Rivolta GT’s first two prototypes and first production car were thoroughly tested, Bizzarrini had his own consultancy office back home in Livorno, incorporated under the name Autostar. It was February 1963 when the Rivolta contract ended, so new jobs came from Campagnolo converting drum brakes to the company’s new disc brakes, and from another upstart GT manufacturer, ASA. Bizzarrini brought the “Ferrarina” or “baby Ferrari” to life as the ASA 1000 GT.

His next contract came from the bull-master of Sant’Agata, Ferruccio Lambor-ghini. Lamborghini’s grand plan was to build the perfect V12, and he engaged Bizzarrini to design it for him. Lamborghini’s requirements were simple: a minimum of three liters and 350 horsepower; as a spur to more power, Bizzarini was to be paid extra for every additional hp he could crank out of his new engine. Within four months, Giotto presented Ferruccio with a 3.5-liter all-aluminum double-overhead-cam engine, with six vertical double-barrel Webers and 9.5:1 compression. Horsepower came to 360-370 at 8000 to 9000 rpm (depending on who measured). Ferruccio was satisfied, Bizzarrini was well paid, and this engine became the basis of all subsequent Lamborghinis.

It wasn’t long after Bizzarrini signed off with Iso that he was called back, this time to produce a berlinetta (fastback coupe) to be called the A3. Renzo Rivolta wanted a luxurious street car, but Bizzarrini wanted to build a full racer. Giotto ended up having his cake and eating it too, as he worked with Rivolta’s chief engineer, Nuccio Bertone and his chief designer Giorgetto Giugiaro, to perfect the body and engine design of Rivolta’s A3/L at the same time that he built his own A3/C (C for competition or corsa). Rivolta had given Bizzarrini an A3 chassis that he took home to Livorno, and he was basically free to do with it whatever he wanted. Both cars were completed in a miraculously short amount of time, ready to appear side by side at the October 1963 Turin Auto Show. Bizzarrini’s was the rougher of the two, not just because it was a race car; there hadn’t been time to paint it, so Bizzarrini had one of his men etch swirls onto the raw aluminum body.

Bertone’s luxurious A3/L version, named the Iso Grifo, was the hit of the show (and a major feather in young Giugiaro’s cap), but Bizzarrini’s raw offering struck a chord, too. Inside that powerful but stark body was the 365-bhp Corvette V8, pushed back so far toward the center of the car that it came into the driver’s compartment; in fact, to reach the distributor, you had to pull a flap up on the dashboard! The wheelbase was shortened (from 2700mm to 2450mm), and the A3/L’s 22-gal. fuel tank was discarded in favor of three interconnected smaller tanks–one on each side of the car and the third right behind the two seats (total capacity came to 37 gal.). The result was the first true “front mid-engine” car and an extraordinarily well-balanced one, with weight distribution 50.5 percent in front and 49.5 percent in the rear–virtually 50-50.

For the engine Bizzarrini designed a special manifold that pulled a pipe from each cylinder into a “bundle of snakes” that were then gathered into two and run all the way out to the rear as exhaust pipes. With four Weber 45 DCOE twin-throat horizontal carburetors, Bizzarrini claimed the engine put out 405 bhp at 5400 rpm.
The body, much lighter than the A3/L, was similarly shaped, except that the windshield had a more distinctive rake, sloped at almost the same angle as the engine hood. Like all racers, the interior was spartan, especially compared to the luxuriously trimmed A3/L. The first A3/C body, built by Piero Drogo of Sports Cars Modena, hosted some 7,000 rivets as insurance that the welds would hold. With a Borg-Warner T-10 4-speed transmission and suspension identical to the A3/L’s (independent in front and the deDion system out back), the car attracted enough attention to convince Rivolta to put it into limited production. Rivolta even supported the car’s first racing efforts, which included a first in the over-5000cc class at the 1964 Le Mans 24 Hours. The car returned to Le Mans in 1965, but this time Bizzarrini was largely on his own; Iso provided chassis, parts and only limited support. The car again won its class, but by the end of August that year, Iso ended its association with Bizzarrini.

Giotto was not about to abandon the car he considered a “second generation Ferrari GTO.” He continued to build the cars out of his Livorno workshops, calling them “Bizzarrini Grifos” until he agreed to allow Iso exclusive use of the Grifo name in late 1965. From then on these cars became known as “Stradas” or “GT Americas,” and a 1967 “Strada 5300” (in honor of the displacement of the Corvette engine) is the car featured here.

Twenty-five years later, when interviewed by an Italian magazine, Bizzarrini described the Strada as “his dearest creation.” This car is also very dear to its current owner, Ron Spindler of Van Nuys, Calif. Ron heard about Bizzarrinis before he ever saw one. “It was probably 1981 or ’82,” he explained, “when a gentleman I knew said, ‘I just saw the most beautiful car I’ve ever seen in my life. It’s a Bizzarrini.’ I had never heard of it, and later I looked it up but I couldn’t really find out much about the car. Finally we were at the Santa Barbara Concours d’Elegance and I walked by a rather isolated car, and I gathered it was a Ferrari. But the closer I got it just didn’t have the lines of a Ferrari; it had more body to it–more beef to it. I took three pictures of the car and went up to it, and it was a Bizzarrini and I said, ‘Ah ha! now I understand.'”

Ron kept those pictures on his desk for years. “Every now and then I’d look at them and say ‘Boy, that really is some car.'” Finally he saw an ad in Hemmings Motor News, and before long he was the proud owner of the Strada you see here. Once he had the car in his garage, he says, “I just looked at it; it is just such a gorgeous car.”

The restoration took about two years, begun by stripping the car all the way down to the bottom. The car was invited to the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance based on a picture of the incomplete body, and the restoration wasn’t finished until barely a week before the event. Though Ron had joined the Bizzarrini club and contacted several owners, there were a couple of tricky points in the restoration. “The weirdest thing was the side fins, those lower scoops,” Ron explained. “According to all the authorities, they are supposed to face forward to capture air. But according to the metalwork on this car, we could not get them in forward facing. I had heard stories that they tried everything for this car because it was hot; your legs are under the exhaust pipes of the engine, the engine is right next to your knees, and I don’t doubt that they tried these things forward, backward, any way they might be able to make it work. But we caved in to the established convention and cut a little metal away to get them in facing the forward direction.”

Ron was right that heat was an issue with these cars. Those custom Bizzarrini heads were known for rattling and, by virtue of the engine’s placement, for overheating the front brakes. Another problem was the distributor, which was so close to the firewall it occasionally suffered ignition and sparking problems. The Corvette engine also had to be reworked a bit–Italians liked high-revving engines and the ‘Vette valves had a tendency to float above 5500 rpm. Worse, early models suffered cracked connecting rods, especially in Germany, thanks to prolonged high-speed driving on the autobahnen. Calls to GM for help were answered with a simple, “You Europeans drive too fast!” So Bizzarrini and Rivolta solved that problem by making their own specially reinforced rods.

Another tricky part of the restoration of Ron Spindler’s car was the exhaust. “There was a fellow in northern California who said he had the last factory-original muffler exhaust pipe in existence. These were engraved and very special; they were an encased muffler. I took a lot of photos, and he was kind enough to do a pencil tracing to get the impression of all the lettering. So we fabricated the exact factory muffler, worked through polished stainless, had it engraved exactly like the factory. One of our judges at Pebble Beach looked at those exhaust pipes and said, ‘Where did you get these?’ I said, ‘Well, I could tell you we got them from the factory, but in truth, we had to make them.’ He said, ‘I wouldn’t dock you for that. That’s fantastic.'” The car took first place in its class and was featured in the Pebble Beach Concours Parade of Elegance. That was 1998, and since then this Bizzarrini has won several more firsts and Best of Shows at concourses all over California.

The car was so nice, in fact, that Ron decided to buy a second one to drive. When journalists first had the opportunity to drive these cars back in the 1960s, the praise was nearly universal. Most agreed with writer Etienne Cornil, who wrote in the Sporting Motorist that “…we have never come across such disconcerting ease at such speeds…the car’s stability seems incredible…at 150 mph one could easily leave hold of the steering wheel…there is no doubt that engineer Bizzarrini’s creation merits high esteem among the fastest grand touring cars in the world.”
Ron has nothing but praise for the Strada’s driveability. “When you drive it and kind of push the steering wheel into the corner, it just takes you around the corner. After the first few, you’re so comfortable, you’ll take anything; you’ll take any corner at any speed with no fear.”

Only about 25 Iso Grifo A3/Cs were built before Bizzarrini took over in 1965, and something between 135 and 155 Bizzarrini Stradas and GT Americas (sources vary) were completed before Bizzarrini moved on to other things after 1969 (including work with Opel, GM and AMX, as well as a one-off supercar of his own design in 1991). The low numbers ensure that cars like Ron Spindler’s Bizzarrini Strada–both the show car and the driver–will become ever more valuable as the new millennium rolls on. Reason enough to be thankful that at least a few of those 20th-century Italians were able to indulge their insatiable egos.

http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/1226/1749/1600/0205ec_bizzar01_zoom.jpg
@Wollie …een korte biografie… !?
@ rikkon; ‘k zei al: voor de echte die hards :-))
He, waar zijn de foto’s gebleven??
Ik vind het prachtig dat Bizzarrini momenteel nog bestaat en een prachtige auto bouwt.
http://img101.imageshack.us/img101/7922/340615sl2.jpg

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