1964 Bizzarrini Iso Grifo A3/C
Giotto Bizzarrini worked with Alfa Romeo and Ferrari on the development of their cars. In 1962 he founded his own company, Autostar, in Livorno, Italy, and went on to work with Renzo Rivolta, producing the Iso Rivolta and Iso Grifo A3C models. The company was renamed Prototipi Bizzarrini and produced several Bizzarrini models including the 5300 Corsa, which was also on display at the 2007 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance. It is one of the three chassis built by the factory that year. This car is described by Sports Car Graphic
magazine as 'a cross between a Sting Ray Corvette and a Ferrari GTO.' The 5300 Corsa has the Iso Grifo A3C body, a chassis powered by a 327 Corvette motor and is badged as a Bizzarrini.
The Bizzarrini Corsa was specially made by Giotto Bizzarrini, one of the most prolific auto designers of the 1960s. After receiving a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Pisa in 1953, Bizzarrini went to work for Alfa Romeo but later moved on to Ferrari, where he created the celebrated GTO racing coupe. He struck out on his own in 1961 as a consultant, building the chassis of the Iso Grifo and designing the chassis and V12 engine for the Lamborghini 350 GT. Next, he arranged to build a version of the Grifo under his own name. This was a two-door coupe, equipped with a Chevrolet V8 engine. It was imported into the United States in time for the 1964 Sebring 12-hour enduro. It placed 39th overall and 12th in class. It was an SCCA Championship car in 1964, with Ed Hugus driving.
High bid of $1,100,000 at 2014 Mecum - Monterey. (did not sell)
Giotto Bizzarini joined Renzo Rivolta at Iso in 1962, and together they created the Iso Rivolta with a body designed by Bertone. The first unpainted prototype (B0201) was shown at the Turin Auto Salon in 1963 with the trademark riveted aluminum body made by Piero Drogo at Sports Car Modena. A3Cs took part in many races, including the 12 Hours of Sebring, the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the 1,000-km race at Nurburgring.
This car is the 13th of 29 cars built with the riveted body and a revised curved rear screen at the end of 1964. After completion it was delivered to the German distributor Auto Becker and spent many years in Switzerland. It has just been restored by Salvatore Diomante in Turin.
During engineer Giotto Bizzarrini early career, he worked as a project engineer, creating arguably three of the most important vehicles in Italian automotive history - the list includes the Ferrari 250 GTO, Lamborghini's original 3500GT V-12 engine and Renzo Rivolta's Iso Grifo. In the early 1960s he opened his own company, 'Prototipo Bizzarrini S.a.r.l., Progettazione e Construzioni Automobili,' in Livonia. His newly formed company built high performance versions of the Iso Grifo, built in limited numbers and with a different mission, for the A3C, as it was designated, was for racing. In total, Bizzarrini built 20 Iso Griffo A3/C coupes using lightweight riveted aluminum alloy bodies fabricated by Piero Drogo's Carrozzeria Sports Auto. The bodies used over 7,000 rivets. These highly prepared sports cars had a top speed of 168 MPH, thanks (in part) to the 327/365 HP Corvette engine.
This example was completed in late 1964 and delivered new to Auto Becker in Germany in January. It was owned by race car driver Pierre de Sibenthal from the 1970s until the 1980s. In the late 1980s, it was sold to a new owner, remaining in Italy.
The engine is the aforementioned Corvette 327, with four Weber side draft carburetors and rated at 400 horsepower. In 2012 and 2013 it was put through a comprehensive ground-up restoration.
After working with Alfa Romeo and Ferrari on the development of their cars, Giotto Bizzarrini founded his own company, Autostar, in Livorno, Italy, in 1962. A year later he worked with Renzo Rivolta, producing the Iso Rivolta and Iso Grifo A3/C models, before producing cars under his own name beginning in 1964. The first Bizzarrini-built A3/C prototype was shown at the Turin Auto Salon in 1963 wearing a riveted aluminum body by Piero Drogo at Sports Car Modena. The model took part in many races, including the 12 Hours of Sebring, the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Nurburgring 1000 km.
This A3/C competed at the highest level in Europe, coming in 14th overall and 4th in class at Le Mans, 3rd in class at the Paris 1000 km, and 2nd at the Monza 1000 km. Its current owner has raced the car since 1974 in various historic championships, often finishing in the top three.
In 1962, the Milan car manufacturer ISO introduced its second model, the Grifo. The first was the Rivolta. Giorgio Giugiaro of Bertone designed the body and Giotto Bizzarrini, creator of the Ferrari GTO, engineered it. The Grifo was powered by a Chevrolet 5.3 liter V8 and sat atop a shortened Rivolta platform. The engine was placed in the front and drove the rear transaxle. The Borg-Warner T4 4-speed manual gearbox lacked overdrive, a problem that would cause it problems in future endurance racing. At speeds, the driver had to back off the accelerator pedal to help preserve the life of the engine. With over 400 horsepower from the GM small-block and a weighing less than 2200 pounds, the vehicle was able to achieve 190 miles-per-hour.
The Grifo was sportier than its predecessor and was available in two version, luxury and sport. The luxurious Grifo was dubbed the A3/L while the sportier version received the title A3/C. Iso produced the Grifo A3/L while Bizzarrini developed the A3/C.
In 1964 it was entered in the 12 Hours of Sebring as well as the grueling and fiercely competitive 24 Hours of Le Mans race. During its racing career it would capture a fourth overall but first in class victory at Le Mans.
During the production lifespan of the Grifo, around 22 versions of the A3/C were constructed. Due to disagreements, Bizzarrini and Rivolta parted ways in 1965. A deal was struck where Bizzarrini could still produce the Grifo A3/C cars but was unable to use the name. The new name was the Bizzarrini 5300 GT and American GT.
In 1968, a 6998 cc V8 engine became available and was later modified to 7443 cc.By Daniel Vaughan | Oct 2007
Bizzarrini's resume included working for the legendary Ferrari and Lamborghini marques, and when he began producing cars bearing his own name, these two marques became his top competitors.
The first car to bare his name was the 5300, created in collaboration with Giugiaro at Bertone and Renzo Rivolta, who were working on creating the Iso Rivolta 300 at the time. The Rivolta 300 had a Corvette V8 powerplant and a welded steel monocoque chassis. The suspension was indpenedent with double wishbones in the front and a DeDion rear axle. The Chevrolet V8 engine was a foreign piece of technology in an Italian sportscar, but it offered numerous benefits such as plenty of power (around 365 bhp), proven reliability, and low cost of production. The engine was placed as far back in the engine bay as possible, resuling in limited interior room, but maximum performance. Another drawback to being so close to the engine was the noise and the heat produced by engine. But, as in many other sports cars, interior space played 'second fiddle' to performance.
The result was spectacular, with performance and reliability coupled together in a small and stylish package. It was very aerodynamic, had a great suspension, and the powerplant to keep it competitive.
Bizzarrini wanted to take the cars racing but Iso, at first, disagreed. By 1963, Bizzarrini had convinced Rivolta to finance a racing program resulting in the development of a sportier version of the Iso Rivolta. The result was the Iso Grifo which laid the ground-work for the soon-to-come 5300GT. Homologation requirements meant the Iso Grifo was entered in the prototype category, pitting the car against some very fierce competition such as the dominant Ford GT40 with its seven-liter engine, and Shelby's Cobra. The team scored a 14th place finish at LeMans and a 19th at the Nurburgring 1000Km in 1964. 1965 began on a sour note, as a car was destroyed at Sebring and another at Daytona. The team switched to older cars, leaving them at even more of a disadavantage. At LeMans, the true potential of the cars shined, as they scored a class victory. This victory was made possible by the Ford GT40's retiring from the race prematurely.
At the 1963 Torino Motor Show, the competition Grifo A3/C and Grio A3/L 2+2 were displayed. These cars shared similarities, but very different bodies styled by Giugiaro at Bertone. The cars were given positive reviews at the show resulting in both being put into production. The chassis were built by Bizzarrini while Iso provided the engine and various other mechanical compoentns. The 2+2 A3/L models were assembled by Bertone and Drogo manufactured the competition bodies.
Only twenty-fve examples of the Grifo's were produced before Renzo Rivolta's death. The relationship between Bizzarrini and Iso soon fell apart, ending with Bizzarrini suing Iso to get the necessary parts to finish 50 cars. The first set of cars carried the Iso badge, while the cars the came after chassis number 0024 were dubbed the Bizzarrini 5300 GTs. As such, both the Iso Grifo AC3/C and the Bizzarrini 5300 GT were very similar in many respects. Their designs were slightly different, as Carrozzeria BBM was tasked with creating the bodies for the Bizzarrini's which introduced small subtletees such as different door handles and small changes to the light and signals in the front and rear.By Daniel Vaughan | Oct 2007