My Car Quest

May 27, 2019

The Most Beautiful Three Cars in the World

by Wallace Wyss

“But they’re all the same car” I hear you saying. Well, that’s true but there’s enough variation where I, in making a list of the most beautiful cars, will be putting these cars 1-2-3.

In my book Incredible Barn Finds I tell how I fell in love with one of the cars, the red one, 49 years ago.

Bizzarrini Spyders

Bizzarrini Spyders: Silver, Red and Blue

It was back in 1966 when Dick Wingerson, my copy chief at the ad agency, Campbell Ewald, said “You oughta go over to the Vette Shop– they got an Italian bodied Corvette powered car.” I went there but the owner of the shop said it wasn’t for sale, only there for service.

So flash forward a decade or two, I’m driving through Vegas, there’s the same damn car in a gas station with a flat tire. I put a note on it.

No answer.

Then flash forward another few years, I’m in Malibu going uphill from Pacific Coat Highway, there it is — the same damn car again — in front of someone’s house. I put a note on it.

Again no one answers.

I’m thinking: How many square miles are there in the U.S. of A and I keep running up against this same car? Obviously God wants me to have it.

Eventually I find out it belongs to Mark Sassak and he and I become friends. Only now the damn Bizzarrini Spyders are worth like, I dunno, a million each – or more?

Anyhow there’s going to be a display of all three at an upcoming concours.

The cars are named after Giotto Bizzarrini, the engineering genius who developed the Ferrari 250GTO, now the world’s most valuable car.

Then he walked out on Ferrari with several other engineers in the famous “palace revolt” and went on to work at other small automakers before building cars under his own name.

There were only three Bizzarrini 5300 Spyder S.I models made out of over 100 Bizzarrini cars.

Bizzarrini Spyders

The venue is at the Concours d’Eegance of America at St.John’s scheduled for July 26th, 2015 in Plymouth, Michigan.

According to Mark Sassak, an owner of two of the cars, this will be only the second time all three Spyders will be displayed together publicly. Don Meluzio owns the third Bizzarrini Spyder, the blue one.

They were designed at the end of an era that was unrestrained by government mandated regulation, and small Italian companies produced hand-built rolling sculptures. Each Bizzarrini Spyder is unique in its own way.

BORNE OUT OF ISO

When Bizzarrini first left Ferrari, he joined a firm called ATS that had the ambition of going up against Ferrari but that firm went nowhere so eventually he landed at Iso, a company that had as its ambition the goal of making Italian GT cars powered by an American V8. The result was the four seater Iso Rivolta, powered by a Chevrolet 327 cid V8.

But Bizzarrini was a born racer—at Ferrari he had created the immortal 250GTO– so soon he created for Iso a low-slung two seater coupe called the A3/C, the “C” for “corsa” or racing. A street version, the A3/L, was made as well.

Bizzarrini Spyders

But the owner of Iso–Renzo Rivolta–dragged his heels on supporting the low-slung alloy bodied cars–he wanted to make more luxurious cars of steel and, after a tiff, the result was that Ing. Bizzarrini left the firm, going back to his home in Livorno where he started building the Iso A3/L and A3/C with his own name on the car, the GT5300 Bizzarrini Strada (and a later model called the GT America).

Bizzarrini had a good bargaining chip– he had copyrighted the name “Grifo” on a car and for Rivolta to use that with the Iso Grifos he was going to build out of steel he had to settle with Bizzarrini and traded him some unfinished cars.

Originally the plan was to make all of the cars (of which there were just over 100) as coupes.

But somewhere along the way, a Targa top roadster was made, a car that had a roof panel that could be removed leaving a Targa top . Even that Targa roll over bar could be taken off to make it a complete spyder roadster. This car was also designed with concealed headlamps. It was display at the 1966 Geneva Auto Show. Road & Track pictured it back in 1966, saying that it was never completed.

Hey, I’m here to tell ya that even Road & Track can print an erroneous comment.

Fortunately, as is detailed at length in Incredible barn Finds, Mark Sassak, has what I call a true barn finding spirit. He didn’t believe the car was thrown into the ash heap of history and tracked down the silver Bizzarrini Prototype (S.I) Spyder, a 1966 model, in Italy with the result that he now owns two of the three Bizzarrini spyders made.

Antoher Bizzarrini spyder was already in his family because in late 1967/68 the first production Spyder was commissioned by a Livonia land developer who happened to be Mark’s father and the car has been in his family for five decades–the same damn car I have been chasing after for almost 50 years!. This “Red” Spyder was built with a T-top that converted to a Targa and then a full roadster. This was the only Spyder built for the US market.

The third and final Bizzarrini Spyder is a blue one, called a 1968/’69 because it took two years to complete. It has a T-top and roll bar welded together so is only shown as a T-top and the only one with side vent windows.

All three cars were featured in a multi-page article in the magazine Motor Trend Classic in their 2011 Fall Issue .

This event marks only the second time in history that all three Bizzarrini 5300 Spyder S.I. (for Stile Italia in cooperation with Sibona e Bassano, (SB) a small body building firm that completed the conversions to open cars) will be shown together –a stunning tribute to the design talents of Ing. Bizzarrini and Giorgetto Giugiaro, the world’s most famous car designer, who created the basic shape of the coupe while he was at Carrozzeria Bertone in 1963.

Bizzarrini Spyders

Giugiaro and his son Fabrizio, by the way, sold their firm Ital Design to VW and now have only one customer–VW. So that makes the cars he designed for Bertone and Ghia more prized now, especially the one off cars like the Corvette Rondine, Bizzarrini Manta, etc.

Now have I come to the conclusion that I will never get to own one of these Spyders? Never say never. I’ve only been trying for 49 years. Maybe if Hollywood ever calls me about my Ferrari Hunters novel…
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THE AUTHOR: Wallace Wyss is the author of the Incredible Barn Finds series, two of which are now available from Enthusiast Books (715)381-9755.

Photos by Jim Fets.

Summary
The Most Beautiful Three Cars in the World
Article Name
The Most Beautiful Three Cars in the World
Description
The three original Bizzarrini Spyders will be together again.
Author

Comments

  1. Don Meluzio says

    I guess since I own the Blue car, it is rather silly for me to say that I agree with your taste in Automobiles! I really feel that they are gorgeous. I think that getting all three together at St Johns Concours is going to be quite an event.

    Don Meluzio

  2. Roger Hirschland says

    I found Wallace Wyss’s commentary on the three Bizzarrini Spyders fascinating, having had the privilege of seeing at least the blue one at Hershey a couple of years ago. But Mr. Wyss is not quite correct: All three Spyders are on perpetual display together in my home, albeit in 1:43 scale. Spark, the manufacturer of these resin models, got a lot of the differences correct — but not, I note, the vent windows on the red model. All three models are still available on eBay, for those who may want examples for less than a million dollars. I’ll send photos under separate cover. (The manufacturer actually corrected the vent-window error on the red car in later editions.)

  3. Dan Rinker says

    From the article is a reminder of a Formula One car I saw at the “museum” in Hockenheim. It was a 1984, I believe, ATS car that Gerheard Berger drove. Later we all remember him driving the crimson beauty for Ferrari. Funny how those arrangements intermingle…

  4. Don Meluzio says

    It seems Wally Wyss has been interested in Bizzarrinis way before they were more well known like they are today. He actually wrote an article on my White Bizzarrini Strada back in June of 1985. My car was featured in Sports Car World an Australian Magazine, and the article was written by non other than Wally Wyss!

  5. Wallace Wyss says

    Thanks Don for reminding me of one of the most fun buys when I was a barn finder. I bought a white Bizzarrini from Don Young out in Lancaster for a New York client, and drove the car for three days until I did too many burnouts and fried the clutch. It was like a new car. I think
    Don had bought it in Italy, I saw a picture of him in a garage with several Bizzarrinis. He also had a long nose hooded headlamp Iso Grifo 351 (Since sold) with what call the “Wedding cake hood.” I shot a VHS video of the white Bizzarrini, half an hour long, but can’t find it, and also made a painting of the nose of the car. I also bought Carey Loftin’s yellow Bizzarrini coupe and a white one, very rusty, back East, and on all apart from someone in the San Fernando Valle, that I sold to Bill DeCarr who customized the headlamps. There’s a chapter on Bizzarrini in Incredible Barn Finds from Enthusiast Books, Hudson WI

    • Don Meluzio says

      Wally, I spoke to JIM Young last night, who owned my white car. and yes it went to New York to the fellow who I bought it from. I guess with privacy laws I’ll leave out his name. I clarified with Jim where he bought it. Maybe this is where you got the idea he bought it in Italy. He bought it in Naples Island, California! Yes, he had been to Italy, and saw Many Bizzarrinis , but his was bought close to home. Don

  6. All three cars were together in 2005 or 2006 in Monterey CA I remember this because I had been a member of the Iso Bizzarrini for a few years and was asked if I would help judge. I thought wow that would be interesting sure.

    What I thought was going to be interesting turned into a very stressful day 🙂 Jeff Savage and I were tasked with judging, the field was very large for out club it comprised one of the best showings the club has ever had. In attendance were all three Bizzarrini spiders, a ATS 2500 coupe, Ron Spindler’s Pebble Beach winning 5300 Strada, a Bizzarrini AMX/3, 3 Grifo’s one or two that had fresh restorations and Don Meluzio’s very original white Bizzarrini. There were more and I apologies that I can’t remember all of them. Jeff and I judged for hours trying to decide the ranking’s, needless to say we made the right decision Mark Sassak’s red Bizzarrini Spyder. How do I know we made the right decision? Marks’s Red Spyder also won Concorso Italiano’s overall award – First place. BTW all there spiders were separated by only a few points.

    Seeing all three spiders together is spectacular site I love that they are all different colors, is there a bad color for a Bizzarrini? I don’t think so.

  7. Robb Northrup says

    Wallace: Great article on these fantastic cars. However, the Corvette Rondine was really a Tom Tjaarda design when he was with Pininfarina. The back end was used on the Ferrari 275 GTS convertible; the Rondine was also the inspiration for the Fiat 124 Sport Spyder. Both were done by the American Tjaarda. (Spent an afternoon with him in his studio in Torino.)

    BTW, glad to see you “cut your teeth” at an ad agency. A great place to ruin one’s writing skills! And I wish at my advanced age I could go back!

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