My Car Quest

November 19, 2018

The Bulls of Yellowstone County – June 2013 – A Bizzarrini Story Part Two

by Mike –

This is the last in the series of how a Bizzarrini GT 5300 Strada was lost for decades and found by a Canadian collector. This is not just any Bizzarrini GT 5300 but one of the examples formerly owned by Max Balchowsky and Carey Loftin. It is also briefly visible in the opening credits of the Steve McQueen movie “Bullitt”.

Man, this sounds like a fun trip! Cool car, cool people and cool drive. Part one is here.

Bizzarrini GT 5300 Strada

Text by Dale Walmsley

The Bizzarrini is one of those “hybrid” cars but not the hybrid we know in current technology. Like the DeTomaso Mangusta and Pantera, the Ghia 450SS and the lesser known Intermeccanica, the Bizzarrini has an Italian coach-built body and a North American powertrain.

It has a 350 hp 327 cubic inch (5300cc) Corvette engine and an M22 Muncie transmission. Combined with the very common Salisbury inboard disc brake rear end, the powertrain is bulletproof. In fact, we were so confident in the “bulletproofness” of the powertrain, the decision was made to drive the car from Calgary to Billings, participate in the event and drive it back home again.

The Bizzarrini was an absolute stud. It never missed a beat the entire trip of close to 2,000 miles and, in spite of some seriously hard driving, gave us nearly 20 mpg over the whole trip. I had the privilege of logging close to 1,800 of those 2,000 miles and in spite of how you might think someone that stands 6’1” tall might fit in a car that stands a mere 42” tall, I can tell you I never once climbed out feeling like I’d had enough.

The driving position was perfect and the seat fit me like it was made for me and visibility was surprisingly good. With a 40 gallon fuel capacity, stops were as often for a restroom break as they were for fuel. The range of this car on a fill is astounding.

The car was well received at the event. Many of the participants were disappointed we couldn’t bring the Miura but were thrilled to see a Bizzarrini; a car some of them didn’t know existed. While spectators and bystanders knew most of the Lamborghinis, most did not know the Bizzarrini and I spent a great deal of time throughout the event explaining to them what it was and why it was there.

Bizzarrini GT 5300 Strada

The event itself was more of a static show for the first two days. There were lots of short trips to special events in the area. The town of Hardin was celebrating Little Bighorn Days and we were invited, as a group, to participate in the annual parade. It would have been quite a site for a small town; they even closed a block of Main Street after the parade so we could park our cars.

The final day of the event involved much more driving. From Billings we headed south west to a small town called Red Lodge, just on the edge of Yellowstone Park. We had a wonderful brunch there and then headed up to the famous Bear Tooth Pass. As a group we drove up the Bear Tooth and stopped at Rock Creek Vista, elevation 9,190 ft.

We spent a few minutes there taking pictures and taking in the scenery and then headed back down the Bear Tooth to Red Lodge where it had been announced in the weekly newspaper we would be showing our cars in the civic center parking lot. After spending a few hours there it was time to start heading home. While many made their way back to Billings, we decided to head back up the Bear Tooth, over the top into Yellowstone Park, and on to Livingstone for the night.

It was an absolute thrill to drive the Bizzarrini through all the twisty bits that Bear Tooth is famous for. Giotto Bizzarrini was an absolute genius when it came to engineering a chassis and this car was simply unbelievable. Rock solid on the corners; loads of torque, and the ride was surprisingly comfortable. Regardless of the terrain, the car shone.

Bizzarrini GT 5300 Strada

Getting ready for the trip

It was as comfortable cruising at 80 mph on the interstate as it was eating up the twisties of Yellowstone. It was a bittersweet moment when I arrived home. Calgary was in the midst of the most devastating flood in history so I was anxious to get home to make sure all was well, but it also meant the end of the road for me and my trusty steed.

Bizzarrini GT 5300 Strada

Getting ready for the trip

I’ve had the opportunity to drive many rare exotic cars but the Bizzarrini will always hold a special place in my heart and the week spent behind the wheel will be something I will never forget.

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Bizzarrini logo

Summary
The Bulls of Yellowstone County - June 2013 - A Bizzarrini Story  Part Two
Article Name
The Bulls of Yellowstone County - June 2013 - A Bizzarrini Story Part Two
Description
The author says, "the Bizzarrini will always hold a special place in my heart and the week spent behind the wheel will be something I will never forget".
Author

Comments

  1. Chris Lackner says:

    I think you’ll find it’s an M21 tranny, not the M22 “rock crusher”, Dale. It’s quieter than the M22 due to the steeper angle of the gear teeth, and ultimately not quite as strong, but plenty strong enough for our application.
    Congratulations on what sounds a superb trip to Yellowstone, and very glad (though not surprised) to hear the Bizz acquitted itself so admirably. Well done!

  2. Thanks for the correction Chris. You are right, of course; it is an M21, not an M22…

    Cheers,
    Dale

  3. Probably a better & more reliable car than the (Ferrari) GTO Bizzarrini originally had a hand in

  4. Dave Craddock says:

    They were very unique cars indeed, the engine sat so far back in the chassis you had to service the ubiquitous
    Chevrolet distributor thru the IP under the windscreen.
    Dave Craddock

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