My Car Quest

January 27, 2021

Editorial: Bizzarrini The New Hot Number

Footnotes will be designated by brackets on each side of a number [x] – see the corresponding footnotes at the end of the article.

Text and art by Wallace Wyss – Footnotes and photos by Mike Gulett –

I remember for the last five decades, when talking to people about Lamborghinis, and Ferraris and which would go up in price I would throw in the name Bizzarrini. The usual response was a blank look. [1]

Then I’d have to tell the whole story–guy leaves Ferrari, goes to Iso, develops sports car, leaves Iso, makes it on his own yadda yadda. Or they’d sneer “But that has an American engine”.

Oh, crime of crimes, death penalty for sure. Forget the AC Cobra, which both in small block and big block had an American designed and built PUSHROD iron block V8 (that won the World’s Manufacturer’s Championship in ’65).

Now, suddenly that’s all changed. And I think credit is due to the steadfastness of the Iso & Bizzarrini Owner’s Club. Despite honoring a marque that was being marginalized by the car magazines, and ignored by the biggest concours (until Pebble Beach created a Bizzarrini class in 2016) and no-show at auctions they soldiered on documenting their cars, giving the clueless public some handle to hang their enthusiasm on. [2]

And then there’s the disappearance of old Ferraris as daily drivers. Sure I see the occasional Daytona or 275GTB in Malibu at a cars & coffees but that neighborhood is tilted toward those-who-made-it and those-who-want to make it, and a lot of folks there drive rare cars. Pre ’75 V12 two seater Ferraris are just too valuable to drive.

Bizzarrini GT 5300 Strada - art by Wallace Wyss

Bizzarrini GT 5300 Strada – art by Wallace Wyss

So why are Bizzarrinis zomming past old Ferraris in price? Because of rarity. Under 200 cars including GT 5300 Strada, GT Americas, A3C/A3Ls, even the dozen or so baby Bitz’s (Europa). Compare that to Mangustas, just over 400 of those made, or Daytonas, just over 1200. [3]

Next performance: Like 170 mph with a four speed. Put in a 5-speed you might see 180 mph.

Maintenance: Name one 170-mph foreign car (defined here as those made in Yurrip with European engines) that you can get the engine tuned in gas stations from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

Style: Today modern car makers have to worry about safety bumpers, and protecting pedestrians with bonnet angles, and air bags and curb height, yadda yadda. Back then the requirements laid down by Giotto were laughably simple-help me make this sumbitch as fast as it will go and…yeah, make it as sexy as it can be.

Availability: Like virtually none (though I did find three for sale on the internet). But that’s not many to go around. We’re talking a country with 330 million people, with at least a few thousand millionaires and a few hundred billionaires (and coming soon the first American trillionires). Yet if you want a Bizzarrini, there’s no dealer. Not even a specialist that’s 100% Bizzarrini. It’s like a cult. You have to first join the cult, breathe the air, say the mantra and eventually you find out where the cars are. [4]

Mike Gulett and Giotto Bizzarrini

Mike Gulett and Giotto Bizzarrini – Italy – 2013

Word to the wise. There’s some fake ones out there. That’s why you join the Club. Find out who the bad actors are fiddling with serial numbers. [5]

And best of all (fingers crossed) Ing. Bizzarrini is still alive. Still puttering about and, though his company failed, he is a prime example of entrepreneurial skill, creating his own car company and showing Enzo that he wasn’t the only game in town.

When I saw that gleaming blue GT 5300 Strada just imported from France roll onto a Malibu beach parking lot a little more than a month ago (see painting commemorating the moment), I knew I was seeing history. The elevation of the Bizzarrini to cult status. Oh, Pagani can do this, Ferrari can do that, Lamborghini can do back flips for all I care, but it doesn’t matter anymore. There’s a “new” favorite for the cognoscenti.

I love it. [6]

Bizzarrini GT 5300 Strada Art by Wallace Wyss

Bizzarrini GT 5300 Strada – art by Wallace Wyss

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Wallace Wyss

THE AUTHOR/ARTIST: As a barn finder Wyss found and bought three Bizzarrinis. His mistake was, he didn’t keep them…Inquiries about art availability can be directed to malibucarartt@gmail.com
 

Footnotes by Mike Gulett

[1] I became obsessed with the Bizzarrini GT 5300 when I saw photos of the Iso A3/C race car on the internet (the white one with the blue and red stripes across the front). I joined the club and started my search for a GT 5300 Strada in 2003 or 2004. Most Bizzarrinis in those years were in Europe and the few that were here in the US just were not for sale (except one which I foolishly passed on).

Iso A3/C and Mike Gulett

Iso A3/C and Mike Gulett – Palos Verdes – 2009

[2] When I did find a Bizzarrini GT 5300 for sale in those years they were all priced in the range of $250,000 USD. I searched more than four long years before I found the perfect example for me right in my own back yard at the Russo & Steele auction in Monterey in 2008. I was able to inspect it in person and I met the seller and asked him questions. I persevered at the auction and was rewarded with a $572,000 bill including auction fees (and, oh I got to take the Bizzarrini home). Bizzarrini values had increased significantly since I began my search.

Bizzarrini GT 5300 at Russo and Steele Auction in Monterey

Bizzarrini GT 5300 at Russo and Steele Auction – 2008

[3] Over the next several years I took my Bizzarrini up and down the California coast to just about every car event I could and had to answer dozens of times – “what’s that?”. I educated many car lovers about the Bizzarrini GT 5300 in person. This education included concours judges, most of whom knew nothing about the Bizzarrini, which was a disadvantage when being judged against Jaguar XKEs, Mercedes 300 SL Gullwings and even various models of Aston Martin. The Bizzarrini and I were on the TV Show “My Classic Car with Dennis Gage” broadcast in July 2009 taped when I was at the Best of France & Italy in November 2008 in Van Nuys, CA. I was interviewed by Adam Carolla on the Adam Carolla CarCast in September 2009 at the Palos Verdes Concours but that video has vanished.

Bizzarrini GT 5300 Strara and Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato

Bizzarrini GT 5300 Strara and Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato – San Francisco Presidio – 2009

[4] When I drove the Bizzarrini onto the show field many people stopped and stared. Some even followed me onto the field to get a better look. Some, who knew what it was, approached me later in the day to inquire if it was for sale.

Bizzarrini GT 5300 Strada

Bizzarrini GT 5300 Strada at The Quail, A Motor Sport Gathering – 2012

[5] For interested buyers it is important to have a Bizzarrini inspected by someone who knows the cars and a history review is essential too. There are cars with questionable provenance so “buyer beware” is extra true in the Bizzarrini world.

[6] I love it too. To see the world now embracing the Bizzarrini GT 5300 is special for me as it seemed for so many years there were just a few of us.

Bizzarrini GT 5300

Bizzarrini Logo

Summary
Editorial: Bizzarrini The New Hot Number
Article Name
Editorial: Bizzarrini The New Hot Number
Description
Word to the wise. There's some fake Bizzarrinis out there. That's why you join the Club. Find out who the bad actors are fiddling with serial numbers.
Author

Comments

  1. Glen Durmisevich says

    I love that you guys are so into Bizzarrinis. I have always appreciated them for their design, engineering and Italian beauty. Their rarity intrigued me and have often thought it would be great to have a collection of the limited and lesser known European automobiles, like the Bizzarrini GT 5300 Strata, ISO Grifo, Facel Vega, DeTomaso Mangusta a Monteverdi and a few others that aren’t Ferrari. Not that I don’t like Ferraris, just like the obscurity of the others.

  2. Wallace Wyss says

    The laughable part is, those same Ferraristi who looked down their noses at the Bizzarrini because it had a Chevy small block now realize the engine rebuilding cost between say a four cam Ferrari V12 and a Chevy 327 could be $50,000 or more. It’s almost like the engine is free.

  3. Bruce Meyer says

    Michael, you’ve always championed these cars…and finally the enthusiasts are getting it. Thanks for keeping the flame alive. NEVER LIFT…

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