1966 Bizzarrini 5300 GT

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Bizzarrini began his career by working with Alfa Romeo. His expertise and skills were quickly realized and his abilities were promising. Later in life, he began working for Ferrari where he was given the responsibility of development of the 250 GTO. Near the end of 1961, he left Ferrari and became a consultant driven by desires to build automobiles that would outdo his former employer. Lamborghini commissioned Bizzarrini to modify their V12 power-plant, an engine that would be used in future Lamborghini models.

After leaving Lamborghini, Bizzarrini was offered an opportunity by Renzo Rivolta, the owner of Iso, where he created the Iso Rivolta and the Grifo A3 models. The A3C was a GT race car powered by a Chevrolet Corvette engine that had been placed in the front but pushed back to take advantage of weight distribution. The car proved itself at the grueling 24 Hours of LeMans in 1964 where it emerged with a class victory.

By mid-1965, after thirty examples had been produced, the relationship began to disintegrated. Bizzarrini had placed his emblem on almost all of the A3/C models, rather than using Iso emblems. To make matters worse, Bizzarrini had trademarked the Grifo name. Bizzarrini had tried to increase the racing department's budget but was refused by Rivolta. Rivolta was disgruntled since Iso had provided funding to market and race the A3C's. The two companies decided to split, with Iso acquiring the rights to the Grifo name and Bizzarrini obtaining sole rights to build the A3/C and components and parts to construct a limited number of examples.

The A3/C was given a new name, the Bizzarrini 5300 GT. The vehicle was available in either Strada or Corsa trim, with the Strada being the more popular choice out of the two. The 5300 GT was basically the same as the A3/C. It retained the same chassis and under the hood lurked either a 365 hp or 405 hp engine, depending on the body-style. The main differences were cosmetic; the 5300 GT had aluminum bodywork by Carrozzeria BBM rather than using Drogo's Sports Cars of Modena. A bumper strip adorned the front of the vehicle and a few other aesthetic changes followed. There were no door handles; instead, there were push-button releases.

Three examples, all uniquely designed and created, were outfitted with Spyder bodies, one making its way to the 1966 Geneva Motorshow. The bodies were created of alloy and developed at Turin's Stile Italia under the supervision of Bizzarrini. The Spyder examples were dubbed 5300 SI Spyder and the alloy roof panel could be further converted into a Coupe or a Targa.

The Corsa version was a racing bred, the lightweight derivative of the 5300 GT. The bodywork was constructed of glass-fiber, the covers of the headlights were made of plastic, and a leather retaining strap kept the hood in place. The interior featured few amenities and whatever was not needed was removed. Modifications to the engine included polished ports and combustion chambers, free-flow exhaust system, high carbon connecting rods, and hot camshafts. The result was an 1190 kg dry weight automobile powered by a 405 hp engine.

As production progressed Bizzarrini started running short of components. To improvise, he constructed replacements or made changes to the original design. The seats, dash, and steering wheel were the most obvious of these changes.

Bizzarrini had created magnificent automobiles and designs and had done well at selling the examples produced but it was not enough. By the middle of 1968, his company went into receivership and finally being forced to close its doors in 1969.

By Daniel Vaughan | Mar 2008
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-five 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 | Mar 2008

1966 Vehicle Profiles

1966 Bizzarrini 5300 GT vehicle information

Vin Num: 1A30256

1966 Bizzarrini 5300 GT vehicle information

Chassis Num: 1A3 0253
Engine Num: 77F010850

Performance and Specification Comparison

Price Comparison

1966 5300 GT
1966 Bizzarrini 5300 GT Base Price : $10,495

5300 GT Strada

96.40 in.
8 cyl., 326.72 CID., 365.00hp
96.40 in.
8 cyl., 326.00 CID., 400.00hp
$10,495 - $10,495
96.40 in.
8 cyl., 326.72 CID., 400.00hp
96.40 in.
8 cyl., 327.00 CID., 365.00hp
96.40 in.
8 cyl., 327.00 CID., 365.00hp

Industry Production

1971Ford (2,054,351)Chevrolet (1,830,319)Volkswagen (1,128,784)
1970Ford (2,096,184)Chevrolet (1,451,305)Volkswagen (1,193,853)
1969Chevrolet (2,092,947)Ford (1,826,777)Volkswagen (1,241,580)
1968Chevrolet (2,139,290)Ford (1,753,334)Volkswagen (1,191,854)
1967Chevrolet (2,206,639)Ford (1,730,224)Toyota (1,068,321)
1966Ford (2,212,415)Chevrolet (2,206,639)Volkswagen (1,168,146)
1965Chevrolet (2,375,118)Volkswagen (1,174,687)Toyota (1,068,321)
1964Chevrolet (2,318,619)Ford (1,594,053)Toyota (1,068,321)
1963Chevrolet (2,237,201)Ford (1,525,404)Fiat (957,941)
1962Chevrolet (2,061,677)Ford (1,476,031)Fiat (957,941)
1961Ford (1,338,790)Chevrolet (1,318,014)Volkswagen (807,488)

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