My Car Quest

February 23, 2019

All Three Bizzarrini Spyders Will Be At Pebble Beach In August

by Wallace Wyss –

Three Bizzarrini 5300 Spyders–the only three built–are scheduled to reappear together at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in August.

The cars are especially interesting because there are only three open cars out of approximately 125 Bizzarrinis produced by Giotto Bizzarrini at his plant in Livorno between 1966 and 1968.

These particular ones bear the badge “SI” for Stile Italia, in collaboration with Sibona e Basano “SB” the small shop that hand built them one off at a time under Giotto Bizzarrini’s Supervision. They were built from the ground up in open form. Giugiaro was not involved in the (Spyder) styling, having left for Ghia after having done the original design for the car while he was at Bertone.

Bizzarrini Spyder

1966 Bizzarrini Spyder Prototype – The Geneva Show Car

The Bizzarrini GT5300 design had its origins in a race car Giorgetto Giugiaro designed for Iso of Bresso, a firm that made Italian cars with Corvette engines. There was a race version, the A3C, (“C” for “corsa” or racing) and a street version, the A3/L (“L” for “Lusso” or luxury) and when Ing. Bizzarrini left Iso’s employ he took the design of the A3/L and A3/C with him to produce under his own name.

Engineer Giotto Bizzarrini offering under his own badge could best be summed up as the closest thing to taking a race car and putting on the street. It offered what is normally thought of as competition equipment on street cars.

Ing. Giotto Bizzarrini’s factory closed in 1969.

Today, his Coupes/Strada/GT America cars that sold for under $10,900 new (add $1,000 for the “Competition package” which included a magnesium sidedraft manifold toting four Webers, larger tires, and wider wheels). The open T-top Spyders were a few thousand more.

Bizzarrini Spyder

1968 Bizzarrini Spyder

The coupes are now roughly $1,000,000 million and above. The three spyders are valued in the multi-millions. Two of the three are owned by Mark Sassak, a Livonia, Michigan auto parts & sport toy manufacturer who owns the red T-Top -Targa, which has been in his family since new, and the silver roadster, found in Italy in 1999. The third car is owned by Don Meluzio, who owns the blue Targa brought out of Italy some decades ago by Oakland Hills collector Howard Turnley.

Sassak says “We started showing them together a couple of years ago and are honored to be invited to show at Pebble.” He says people enjoy seeing the subtle differences between the three, two being sold as T-Tops and the 1966 Silver Prototype the (Geneva Show car) shown as a coupe, targa and full convertible at different times. “It’s the beginning, the middle and the end of a short-lived model–you can see what might have been…” he says.

1968 Blue Bizzarrini Spyder

1968 Bizzarrini Spyder

Me and the T-top: An Aside….So I ask you, how long can one guy be after one car?

Well, apparently forever. I speak of the red T-top Bizzarrini. The first time I see it, it is 1967 or so. I am working in an ad agency in Detroit writing Chevy ads and my boss, Dick Wingersen, a Corvette owner, says “Hey, get your butt over to the Vette Shop–they got a weird Italian car with a Corvette engine.”

Bizzarrini Spyder Engine

I go there. It is weird, but beautiful. Totally divorced from the Corvettes of the time.

It is not there for sale, just there for service. I give up on trying to buy it, though I could have offered $10,000.

Flash forward I don’t know how many years. I am driving through Vegas. I see a faded red Bizzarrini t-top in a gas station jacked up with one wheel off. Same car. I leave a note. No answer.

Flash forward another few years. I am driving through Malibu, in the hills above Pacific Coast Highway. I go by a Spanish-style tile-roofed one story house just high enough on the hill to see the ocean. There’s a red sports car parked in front of the house. Same car. I leave a note.

No answer.

I don’t know where I finally reach the owner but it’s Mark Sassak, a Detroiter. He tells me the car is not for sale and that’s why he didn’t answer my notes. When I do one of my Incredible Barn Finds books, I tell the whole story, how his father was in a bar sitting next to this Italian guy named Bizzarrini and the Italian guy tells him he is going to build a fantastic car, using what he learned in designing the immortal Ferrari GTO only three or four years earlier.

Mark’s father, a venture capitalist, ponies up some investment capital and is awarded a Bizzarrini Spyder in return.

We all cannot own one of the spectacular Bizzarrini Spyders but now a few of us can own this special model set of all three Bizzarrini Spyders.

Bizzarrini Spyders Model Set

The car is handed down by his father to his brother, and almost reaches derelict status when Mark’s brother uses it for drag racing around Detroit. Mark feels pity for the car and trades some drek transportation car for it. Mark moves around the U.S. including Vegas where he was a card dealer. Anyway he keeps the car and gradually steeps himself in Bizzarrini knowledge. He eventually discovers he is owner of the rarest of the rare.

Along the way he discovers the full Spyder, the silver one, after long disbelieving Road & Track’s dismissive caption when they picture the car in the ‘60s and say it was “never finished”. In my books, I warn Do Not Believe What You Read in magazines…what the hell do magazine writers know, anyway.

Bizzarrini Spyder Painting

The author spotted this car 49 years ago, but a barn find doesn’t always mean it’s for sale….painting by Wallace Wyss

Now it’s 2016, I am going to see the three Spyders again at Pebble. They’re priced a tad beyond my reach now, but I figure this car is going to be mine eventually because why would I have happened upon it three different times in a country as vast as the U.S.? Mark, mi amigo, will ya take a rubber check?

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

THE AUTHOR: Wallace Wyss is a fine artist whose work will be on display at Concorso Italiano in Monterey. He is the author of the Incredible Barn Finds books published by Enthusiast Books ((715) 381 9755

 

 

Bizzarrini Spyder Sales Brochure

Bizzarrini Spyder Sales Brochure

Bizzarrini Prototype front nose badge

The Bizzarrini Prototype front nose badge was lost for 48 years until Jack Koobs De Hartog and Mark Sassak were able to re-create this one of a kind Badge from old photos in Jack’s extensive photo library

Summary
All Three Bizzarrini Spyders Will Be At Pebble Beach In August
Article Name
All Three Bizzarrini Spyders Will Be At Pebble Beach In August
Description
This year at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance all three Bizzarrini Spyders will make a rare appearance together.
Author

Comments

  1. Glenn Krasner says:

    What a terrific tale of men and cars!

  2. Neil Tusing says:

    How do these cars relate to the P538 spiders? There is a P538 owned by Van Horneff which is displayed at the Simeone Foundation Automotive Museujm in Philadelphia, PA. The Horneff car is one of, I believe, three spiders powered by the Lamborghini 4.0 liter V12. june 25th of this year, during one of the museum’s demonstration days, Van was on hand to drive the car with some gusto. After his demonstration, the car was opened up for all to see close- up and Van gave a brief history of the car. Here’s a link to an article about the car at Hemmings.
    http://www.hemmings.com/magazine/hsx/2008/07/The-Phantom-Bizzarrini—Ferrari-Bizzarrini-P538/1661316.html

  3. Wallace Wyss says:

    I think the P538 spyders have , as Mike said, a murky history.I myself would like to see a full accounting of who they were sold to and what happened to them. The trouble with small automakers like Bizzarrini (and Intermeccanica and ATS, etc. ) is that when they go under there are precious few records kept if any. It is not like Porsche or Mercedes where I can contact Porsche with a SN of a 1954 Speedster 1600 and say “was a car made with this SN?” and they can tell me if it’s a real number and what color the car was when new. The result is , in the “off brand” cars that have been orphaned by the dissolution of the automaker there is a lot of mickey mousing around by ethic-free entrepreneurs casting a pall on their authenticity. But I can sure speak up for Mark’s car as I saw it myself 49 years ago before the “tribute” or “continuity” cars were ever dreamed of. It’s the real thing and I still kick myself for believing Road & Track saying the silver spyder was never finished. I had gone to Italy many times and never thought to track it down, having believed Road & Track.

  4. We’ve had three of the cars mentioned in the article and comments here at our show in Cincinnati – the Ault Park Concours d’Elegance. Mark’s car was here in our previous location at Cincinnati Country Day School some 25 or so years ago. We’ve been trying to get it back ever since. Van Horneff has had his P538 here a couple of times and Don Meluzio had his spyder here just a couple of years ago. We’ll be in our 40th year in 2017 and would love to have all three back again!

  5. Wally,

    Thank you for posting a wonderful history and time line of the only three rare Bizzarrini 5300 Spyder S.I. It has been a pleasure knowing you the last 40 some years from Detroit , Las Vegas to Malibu, CA and I enjoyed reading your many books from Detomaso, Porsche, Shelby and ” Barn Finds” to name a few. I did not realized what an accomplished artist you are. The Painting/Rendering of my Red 1968 Bizzarrini 5300 Spyder S.I is fabulous and I would be honored to have displayed in my study. We are looking forward to Pebble Beach & Monterey this year! This is the 50th Anniversary of Bizzarrini’s. I would have to say owning two rare Bizzarrini’s Spyders for the past 48 years it has taken me places from the East , South and West Coast and over seas to meeting some of the most unique people other wise would never had meet from the 70’s. 80’s to the present starting with the late Max Balchowsky w/ Old Yeller of Hollywood Motors to Carey Loftin movie stunt car diver, Buddy Hackett to the King of the Kustomizers George Barris , Ing Giotto Bizzarrini and Giorgetto Giugiaro just to name a few and some of the biggest car collectors & enthusisist in the world. Mike Gulett thank you in having this top notch automotive Information & Selling site ” My Car Quest ” for all. Great place to go!

  6. Melvin Laskoskie says:

    “The Bizzarrini 5300 Spyder is so rare that very few hard-core Italian car aficionados have even seen one, let alone all three of them together.”

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