My Car Quest

July 7, 2022

The Jaguar Bertone Pirana Coupe Looks Like A Lamborghini Espada

by Mike –

More than three years ago I asked Richard Truesdell of AutomotiveTravellor to write an article on the Jaguar Bertone Pirana Coupe and his new book about this special car.

Text and photos by Richard Truesdell

Like Mike, I have a life-long love of cars and while we both admire the usual suspects, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati, and Alfa Romeo, we both are drawn to the lesser-known marques like Iso, Bizzarrini, and even rarer American-Italian hybrids like the Buick-powered Apollo. To guys like us they are a breed apart.

Jaguar Bertone Pirana on the road

Jaguar Bertone Pirana

Over the years, before we actually talked to each other, I’ve crossed paths with Mike twice and we didn’t know it. First at the 2009 Desert Classic Concours d’Elegance in Palm Springs and then at the 2010 Concorso Italiano in Monterey.

Both times I photographed his Bizzarrini GT 5300 and featured it on my own website, AutomotiveTraveler.

Bizzarrini GT 5300 at Concorso Italiano

Bizzarrini GT 5300 In Monterey, 2010

What we didn’t realize, until much later, was that I had also photographed his Bizzarrini GT 5300 Strada in May 2008, at Cars and Coffee show in Irvine, California, several months before he purchased the car in Monterey in August of that year.

In fact my photos of his car were used in the promotional effort for his car, and I didn’t know that until just two weeks ago when Michael said, “Rich, those photos of that Bizzarrini are MY car.” Small world it seems.

Bizzarrini GT 5300 on the road

Bizzarrini GT 5300

What this is leading to, with me being a long-time magazine contributor and editor – my specialty is classic America muscle cars especially those from orphan car marques like American Motors whose limited production AMX/3 has a direct Bizzarrini connection – is that the transition from print to digital, new opportunities present themselves to write about cars. For Mike, it’s the passion he puts into My Car Quest, for me it’s AutomotiveTraveler.

Jaguar Bertone Pinana Coupe parked

Jaguar Bertone Pinana Coupe

Over the past two years I’ve stalked one particular car, with British and Italian parentage, the 1967 Jaguar Bertone Pirana Coupe. If it looks familiar, it’s because its seductive lines were penned by none other than Marcello Gandini, best known for the Lamborghini Miura and that in retrospect, it was the transition between the 1967 Lamborghini Marzal Geneva Auto Show concept car and the production Lamborghini Espada that followed the following year. It seems that Carrozzeria Bertone had a way of maximizing the commercial value of each of its efforts.

Factory photo Lamborghini Espada

Factory Photo – Lamborghini Espada

With the advances in the world of eBooks and digital on-demand publishing, rather than just producing a magazine feature on this wonderful and barely known example of Nuccio Bertone and Marcello Gandini’s art at the epitome of their power, I’ve written a book on this car’s fascinating story and published it on my own, just as Mike has done on the cars that drive his petrol-fueled passions.

It tells the story of how John Anstey, the editor of The Daily Telegraph’s weekend magazine was able to commission the build of the car as a publicity stunt and have it built in less than six months, in time to debut at the 1967 Earls Court Motor Show in London.

cover The Jaguar Bertone Pirana Coupe

Cover of the Book – The Jaguar Bertone Pirana Coupe

A book like mine, The Jaguar Bertone Pirana Coupe, could never attract the attention of a traditional publishing house like Motorbooks, CarTech, Brooklands, or Veloce; it’s much too specialized a topic. They would have to sell 2,000 copies to make a traditional print run financially feasible. But for me, if I can sell 100 copies, I’ll make as much as if I wrote a feature for Octane or Classic and Sports Car, two of my favorite classic car magazines in the UK that I’ve written for over the years.

It’s not much but it allows me to continue what I love doing, photographing and writing about great motorcars and the enthusiasts who own them.

cover The 1968 Plymouth Road Runner

Cover of the Book – The 1968 Plymouth Road Runner

Through the miracle of on-demand publishing and Amazon, my book, the first in a series of books on some of the 1,000+ cars I’ve photographed over the past 20 years in this business, is already available at the worlds largest seller of books, as is my second book on a reference-quality restoration of a 1968 Plymouth Road Runner that was the next-to-last cover car for Musclecar Enthusiast magazine.

1963 Chrysler Ghia Turbine Car

1963 Chrysler Ghia Turbine Car

My next book will be a photo history of the revolutionary 1963 Chrysler Ghia Turbine Cars (there’s that American-Italian collaboration again) which will be followed by the equally revolutionary 1973-1978 GMC Motorhomes. Yes, the ones that featured a front-wheel-drive Oldsmobile Toronado drivetrain and that became famous as the urban assault vehicle in the 1981 Bill Murray classic movie, Stripes.

Bizzarrini 5300 GT Strada

Bizzarrini GT 5300 Strada

As for those photos of Mike’s Bizzarrini GT 5300 Strada that I took that never made their way into the pages of a magazine, I’ve got plans for those. Yes, a book on the Bizzarrini GT 5300. And who better to write the text than Mike, who can fully document its history?

The book, with the photos edited, is already half completed. Now all Mike has to do is to write and update its history. I have a feeling that it won’t take too long.


Richard Truesdell is the Co-founder and Editorial Director of Automotive Traveler Magazine and AutomotiveTraveler.

For a different take on the relationship between cars and the road, visit Rich’s website, and check out the last issue of his magazine Automotive Traveler where he takes the drive of a lifetime in a Ford GT and a Dodge Viper from London to Maranello and back.

His first two self-published books, The Jaguar Bertone Pirana Coupe: A history in photos (Volume 1) and the 1968 Plymouth Road Runner: A Rats to Riches Restoration (Volume 2) are currently available worldwide from Amazon.

His first traditional book, Hurst Equipped: More Than 50 Years of High Performance (Cartech) co-authored with Mark Fletcher, is also available on Amazon.

Article Name
The Jaguar Bertone Pirana Coupe Looks Like A Lamborghini Espada


  1. I recall that car being in San Diego for many years, and even on ebay at one point. A very interesting car for sure. Your picture of the Pirana at speed reminds me of a picture taken of Mike’s 5300 when it was in Southern CA. Your picture ??

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