My Car Quest

April 24, 2019

One Man And His Bizzarrini GT 5300

by Mike Gulett –

Ken Phillips bought his Bizzarrini GT 5300 new in Italy in the late ’60s and had it shipped to the US East Coast where it stayed for the next few decades. The very same Bizzarrini GT 5300 Strada (No. 0256) that I owned many years later.

Ken Phillips and Bizzarrini GT 5300 Strada No. 0256

Ken Phillips and his Bizzarrini – The Poconos – photo from Darren Frank

Ken drove and loved this special car like no other. He worked for the US government in unknown risky jobs in Europe and the Middle East and raced serious cars when he had the chance. This Bizzarrini was never on a race track because Ken told me he did not think it was right for this special car. He did drive it fast, very fast on the roads. He designed and had a pro race car shop build the one of a kind air dam because, according to Ken, “at 150 MPH the front end gets a little light”.

I passed it along a few years ago (including the air dam) to collector brothers in the North West. I recently saw a photo of their museum with the Bizzarrini on a pedestal. I sent the photo to Ken and he wrote this note to me.

Text by Ken Phillips

Mike,

Thanks for the update. They have it on a pedestal. But I liked it better when we had it.

Between my very fast very long trips, (with my government papers) it had started life in just the right place.

There was a very early magazine article about the Bizzarrini with the headline “If your girl friend likes to drive this car, her name is George”. I suppose meaning, it was a very serious machine.

Well they were right about that. If you were out of traffic and in wide open country and moving fast with your bum inches above the ground and your field of vision staring a mile down the road, never anything to the rear, but no worry, nothing was going to be fast enough to be coming up on it, everything was smooth and easy.

But any normal automotive chore might be accomplished but only with considerable additional concentration.

At one time I had a race prepared very early Corvette, Aston Martin DB4 with a custom factory race engine, an RS Porsche and a competition 250 SWB Ferrari.
But our Bizzarrini was a more dedicated competition machine than any of them.

During the time I had it, nobody knew what it was. No one had ever seen one. It was a shock every place it went. Every car it passed.

When you had it the very few, but grand, Bizzarrinis had earned their reputation as one of the World’s All Time Exceptional Vehicles. The value reflected that and it was invited everywhere.

And again this Bizzarrini was in the hands of just the right guy. You had the preparation skills and “juice” and system knowledge and way with people that would let you and your car “In” even when they knew it would overwhelm their own special car. Strengths and skills I did not have.

So I would send you rude emails suggesting you:

1. Go to the bank and withdraw a fist full of cash.

2. Contact your lawyer and be sure he or she would be available for the next week.

3. Alone, take the Bizzarrini out and leave Carmel and drive it as fast as you and the car were comfortable straight through to Sun Valley. No rules. Speed limit dictated only by your skill and the brilliance of Bizzarrini’s rage to produce a car faster than his Ferrari GTO, now in your hands.

That would have delivered a very special knowledge known to only very few in the world. Just why these incredible cars deserved the respect they had earned.
And after that ride, although you knew, you would never be able to convey it to anyone else.

But now it is in a Museum.

One time I was in Cairo and mentioned I should visit the Museum. The fellow with which I had just had coffee called the Museum and said he had someone coming over.

The person at the Museum said the Cairo Museum was closed. The caller said “Open It”.

I walked across the square to the Museum and knocked on the huge closed doors. The door opened at once. A lone, frightened man let me in, closed the door said nothing and disappeared.

I had the entire Cairo Museum to myself. Could go anyplace. See anything. VERY QUIET.

Beautiful very old art. Lots of mummies.

I appreciate the way the car Museum honored our Bizzarrini, putting it up on the pedestal.

But sad to see it as I remember those mummies.

Maybe you and I could figure out a creative way to break in and rescue it.

Maybe make an exception and drive it together to Sun Valley. As fast as we are able.

Ken

I never did make that Sun Valley drive in our Bizzarrini as Ken suggested many times over the years, much to my regret.

Bizzarrini GT 5300 Strada with air dam

Bizzarrini GT 5300 Strada No. 0256 With The Ken Phillips Air Dam – photo by Ken Phillips

Ferrari 250 LM and Ken Phillips

Ferrari 250 LM and Ken Phillips – This photo was taken at the dock on the way to Nassau Speed Weeks.

Ferrari 250 SWB and Ken Phillips

Ferrari 250 SWB and Ken Phillips

Summary
One Man And His Bizzarrini GT 5300
Article Name
One Man And His Bizzarrini GT 5300
Description
Alone, take the Bizzarrini out and leave Carmel and drive it as fast as you and the car were comfortable straight through to Sun Valley. No rules. Speed limit dictated only by your skill and the brilliance of Bizzarrini’s rage to produce a car faster than his Ferrari GTO, now in your hands.
Author

Comments

  1. Can you tell us about the museum in the NorthWest?

  2. wallace wyss says

    It’s a fantasy Ken describes. Maybe in ’66 you could drive vast stretches at 100 mph–I did it myself in an Olds wagon.But I agree with you–it must have been great to drive the car when no one knew what it was.Only those early adopters get to do that. Then the car is being judged on solely on its looks, its stance, how it projects itself. I was driving an Iso Grifo once and a lady came up and said “I don’t know what it is, but I like it.” A far as the spoiler, to each his own as far as making an owner happy but I think adding a ’70s feature to a 60s car diutes a little bit of the purity of what Giotto wrought…

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