My Car Quest

June 24, 2018

Wanted – One Lost Iso Grifo A3/C Bizzarrini Race Car

by Mike –

Since this article was first published on July 14, 2013 I have been contacted a couple of times by people who thought they had information about the missing Iso Grifo A3/C Bizzarrini Race Car. However, each time at the end of the line the car found was not the missing race car.

This is still a mystery and as you will read it is believed this race car is likely still in California somewhere.

At the Sebring 12 Hours race in 1965 both of the Bizzarrini/Iso team cars were destroyed in two separate terrible incidents and it was pure luck that no one was killed.

C. Rino Argento was helping Giotto Bizzarrini manage the team that week and on that terrible race day – read his first hand account: Two Crashed Iso Grifo/Bizzarrini Race Cars Are Still Missing – Sebring 12 Hours 1965.

The lost race cars were taken by the famous Max Balchowski back to his shop in Southern California with the intent to merge them into one race car.

The two cars were chassis No. 0210 and No. 0214 and the new combined car carries chassis No. 0214 because the front of No. 0214 was used in the combined car and the chassis numbers are stamped inside the engine compartment on a chassis frame member.

What We Think We Know Now – New Information and Photos Supplied by Mike Clarke – Who Owns The Engine

Iso Grifo in 1965 Sal DiNatale's shop, California - Photo by Ed Niles

Iso Grifo in 1965 Sal DiNatale’s shop, California – Photo by Ed Niles

In 1965 Balchowski takes the cars back to his shop and starts the project of merging the two crashed cars into one but he does not finish the project and instead sells the car to Ferrari collector Ed Niles.

Ed Niles tries to fix the car, but the project is too complicated and he sells the car to Ralph Brouett.

Ralph Brouett was a paint and body man so he is able to finish the car. Brouett kept the car for a little over a year and then sold it.

It went to an unknown person who kept it for 6 months and it ended up at a car dealer in Los Angeles where Ralph Brouett saw it on the car lot and was upset because the dealer wanted $500 more than he had sold it for!

The car then disappeared and has not been seen since.

Iso Grifo in 1965 Sal DiNatale's shop, California - Photo by Ed Niles

Iso Grifo in 1965 Sal DiNatale’s shop, California – Photo by Ed Niles

Note the No. 8 location in the same place on the rear right on the repaired car above and the No. 0210 car below before the crash at Sebring 1965.

Iso Grifo A3/C No. 0210 - Sebring 1965

Iso Grifo A3/C No. 0210 – Sebring 1965

Iso Grifo A3/C No. 0210 - Sebring 1965

Iso Grifo A3/C No. 0210 – Sebring 1965

The rear end of No. 8 (No. 0210) seems to be usable after the crash above. The front of No. 9 (No. 0214) seems to be usable after the crash below even though it split in half.

Iso Grifo A3/C No. 0214 - Sebring 1965

Iso Grifo A3/C No. 0214 – Sebring 1965

The Engine

When Balchowsky sold the car he kept the race engine for himself. He installed a regular 327 cid Chevrolet engine in No. 0214 so the Iso A3/C could be driven on the street.

Ed Niles purchased the car then sold it to Brouett with the mild engine, instead of the race engine. Brouett went back to Balchowsky and purchased the race engine and installed it in the car once again!

The car was finished, but reports from Ralph Brouett’s son indicate that the car was difficult to drive on the street, it was a beast, and it had a wild cam that turned on at 4000 rpm (this has been confirmed by Mike Clarke, the current owner of this engine).

Ralph Brouett then tries to sell the car, but the buyer says the engine is too wild and asks if Brouett can put a milder engine in the car.

Brouett has the other mild engine Balchowsky sold with the car so he swaps it out again. The race engine then goes under Ralph Brouett’s work bench and the car is sold.

Some time later Ralph Brouett passes away and the engine remains under the work bench with Brouett’s son inheriting this race engine.

The Iso A3/C race engine is bought from Ralph Brouett’s son, by my friend Mike Clarke, a few months ago and it may be the only A3/C engine that has never been rebuilt.

Where is the car?

It is probably in Southern California somewhere. If you know, or have any ideas send an email to michael.gulett@gmail.com.

Missing Iso A3/C After It Is Completed

Missing Iso A3/C After It Was Completed

Above notice that the front air intakes are gone as are the parking lights that were below the headlights and there are now roll up windows instead of plastic sliding racing windows. It also has what appears to be a Bizzarrini GT 5300 nose badge.

There are not very many Iso A3/C or Bizzarrini GT 5300 cars that were painted orange and no other that I know of that did not have the Bizzarrini trade-mark air intakes (nostrils).

Below they decided to use the driver door from No. 9 (No. 0214) and you can see evidence that the front air intakes have been covered over.

Iso A3/C Bizzarrini race Car No. 0214

Iso A3/C Bizzarrini Race Car No. 0214/0210

Below is Ralph Brouett’s classified advertisement in Road & Track magazine selling the Iso A3/C race car – date unknown. I love the description – “a man’s car”.

Road & Track Classified for the missing Iso A3/C race car

Road & Track Classified for the missing Iso A3/C race car

Missing Iso A3/C After It Is Completed

Missing Iso A3/C After It Was Completed

Help find this race car – send me an email message at michael.gulett@gmail.com

Sell your classic car on My Car Quest – click here.

Summary
Wanted – One Lost Iso Grifo A3/C Bizzarrini Race Car
Article Name
Wanted – One Lost Iso Grifo A3/C Bizzarrini Race Car
Description
I am looking for a lost Iso/Bizzarrini race car.
Author

Comments

  1. Thanks Mike for posting information on this missing A3C. This is one of the most significant Iso cars built the 1965 Sebring A3C and it is missing. The story is complete up until when the car showed up on a used car lot in Hollywood. I suspect the man who purchased the car from Ralph Brouette sold or consigned the car to the used car lot.

    As Mike mentioned there are some very unique features on the car that make it stand out including a double row of rivets on the front fenders. No pictures of any A3C taken since that time have had these features.

    I suspect the car was purchased from the lot and due to damage maybe parked and left to sit?

    It sure would be great to find this missing race car and unite it with it’s original engine

    Mike Clarke

  2. A very good friend of mine owns and uses (sometimes races) number 210. It was re-paneled with the help of Giotto Bizzarini about 10 years ago. It is spectacular! I has a solid lifter 327 with four side draft weber carbs. Pictures are available. The owner would be interested in reuniting the car with its original engine.I can send detailed pictures if you like, the Bizzarini resides about 15 miles from my home.
    Regards.
    Alex

  3. Interresting to get pictures of that “Lost” car as it is now.

  4. wallace wyss says:

    At some point between 1970 and 1973 I worked at the corner of Sunset strip and La Cienega and there was an exotic car lot across the street and I saw an Iso Grifo A3C race car for sale there. I remember it had a flat back window that did not curve around to the sides. I don’t remember the color, could have been dark red. Could that have been the same car and where did their ownership fit between Brouett and Niles? Or was it perhaps there on consignment?

  5. It would have had to been post Brouett as I had a conversation with Brouett’s son and he remembers his father being mad that the car was for sale at the used car lot for 500.00 dollars more than he had sold it for. It could have been on consignment, regardless that was the last spot the car was seen.

    I think there was a used car lot at Sunset and Queens.

  6. Fred Reitz says:

    I was an eye witness in 1965 at Sebring when under a typical Florida STORM the Iso Grifo number 9 aquaplaned and hit the pedestrian bridge sideways and was cut in half right behind the driver’s seat. Lucky the driver walked away. The main straight was under a foot of water at the time.

  7. David Keene says:

    Sorry to say I have no info whatsoever to help you in your search. I did want to commend you on your site and was wondering what sort of circulation you are causing to occur. After seeing your site it occurred to me that I should do something similar in my ‘quest’ to locate a significant car from my past.

    I sincerely wish you the best of luck ! DK

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