On a par with such great names as Ferrari, Lamborghini or Maserati, just as famous and justice of or even older: what Giotto Bizzarrini began in 1965 under his own name continues to this day. What lives on has in most cases a long nose, a large-volume V8 engine at the back and further behind a short, aerodynamic rear end. The fact that many sports cars that Giotto Bizzarrini designed reminiscent of the Ferrari 250 GTO is no coincidence – what is currently the world’s most expensive old-timer was designed by him while he was employed by Enzo Ferrari.
The "ingengere", the term of endearment used by his Italian fans, incorporated the genius of four men: that of an aerodynamics expert, a test driver, a designer, of course, an engineer. Even as a young man, Giotto Bizzarrini, after completing his studies, had the luck to land his dream job, taking on the dual role of engineer and test driver at Alfa Romeo. A cousin informed him three years later, that was in 1957, that Enzo Ferrari was looking for a test driver with an engineering background. Wasn‘t that a coincidence?
At Ferrari, he soon became head of experimental sports and GT car development, where he was responsible for the development of the 250 Ferrari, including the famous GTO, which was to consolidate his early fame. Afterwards, when he was running his own business, Giotto designed for Ferruccio Lamborghini the 12-cylinder, which established Lamborghini’s reputation for a long time. In the period following this time at Ferrari, Bizzarrini created the Iso Rivolta for the Rivolta family and their company Iso. A four-seater, which immediately received rave reviews. But it wasn‘t enough for Giotto Bizzarrini – he wanted to compete in races. The Iso Grifo A3/C (C stands for Competizione) was subsequently created – a shortened Rivolta, with the engine pushed well back in the chassis frame, very flat, very low, and very fast. Since it was difficult to hold back due to the excellent aerodynamics and the power of the big block engine, the Bizzarinis were up with the leaders on racing circuits around the globe, won races and collected class victories.
The motto “Win on Sunday, sell on Monday“ also worked the other way round. Increasing numbers of customers wanted a road version of the Grifo, which Giotto Bizzarrini provided with the A3 Strada. This car received ecstatic reviews in the international car press of the time: ”... the most beautiful car ever tested by Autosport.“ ”There is a wonderful feeling of sheer power as one unleashes the Grifo!“ ”I have driven many good looking cars, but for sheer beauty of line, this is the pick of the bunch.“ ”To tell the truth, we have never come across such disconcerting ease at such speeds ...“ Bizzarrini is extremely successful, his Competizione and Strada models win more races and more fans, but the relationship the Rivolta family suffers. Finally, they part company and Giotto names his vehicle from now on the Bizzarrini GT Strada 5300
And even though Giotto Bizzarrini retired from the board at the end of the 60s, he continued to design many one-off cars and special models, something he still does today. We’ve now come full circle. There has rarely, perhaps never been a designer and test driver who combined so many talents in one person. That was also opinion of the University of Florence, awarded him honorary doctorate in industrial design on 23 October 2012. Giotto Bizzarrini has given the automotive world magnificent sports cars, brilliant racing cars and fantastic studies. Grazie mille, Dottore.
Text: Matthias Wetzel,
Fotos: Stefan Bogner, Bizzarrini Archiv
Video: EyesOver - Andreas Kömmerling