My Car Quest

May 16, 2021

My Evolution – The Nature Of Classic Car Beauty And Style

by Mike Gulett –

There are some classic cars that have universal, or near universal, appeal. We all love the Lamborghini Miura, the Mercedes 300SL, the Ferrari 275 GTB, the Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato and the Iso Grifo.

But what about models that have something “special” even though they may not be universally loved? I am thinking about the Lamborghini Espada and the Bizzarrini GT 5300, which are both special to me and to many others, but maybe not to all.

They have different design styles for different reasons. The Espada is a real GT four passenger car designed for long distance driving is style and comfort. The Bizzarrini GT 5300 is a two passenger car originally designed for endurance racing. They both have a unique style and stance and will attract a crowd wherever they go.

Lamborghini Espada

Lamborghini Espada

Bizzarrini GT 5300 Strada

Bizzarrini GT 5300 Strada

You have to admit that Marcello Gandini of Bertone really expanded the boundaries of what can be thought of as beautiful car design with the Espada (as he did with a few other designs). Giorgetto Giugiaro also of Bertone at the time hit a home run with the Bizzarrini style (maybe with help from Giotto Bizzarrini because of his focus on racing).

The Espada is a functional super car in that it carries four adult people in style and comfort and quickly. In order to accommodate two people in the backseat (and provide storage space) the roof line continues at a mild slope all the way to the back where it abruptly ends in a Kamm tail. The Espada has a side profile similar to a shooting brake or station wagon. It reminds me of the Ferrari 250 Breadvan a little.

The Bizzarrini GT 5300 has a long sloping roof line and a steep raked windshield designed for aerodynamics not passenger comfort. Both are very low to the ground. The Bizzarrini is 43 inches high and Espada is 46 inches high and both will almost certainly have the lowest roof line in any parking lot they visit.

Lamborghini Espada No. 8155

Bizzarrini GT 5300

A Kamm tail design improves the aerodynamics and has been used by many designers of race cars like the Shelby Cobra Daytona, Ford GT40 and many others.

Under that Espada rear glass hatch is quite a large luggage space that sits over a full size spare tire. There is enough luggage space for four occupants to be comfortable on a long weekend road trip. No so with the Bizzarrini – only just enough room for two and the spare tire takes up quite a lot of the trunk space.

The Espada truck space is improved because there are two gas tanks, one in each rear fender with a fill cap on each rear fender for each tank. The Bizzarrini has a large gas tank under the trunk and one tank in each of the rocker panels – close to the driver and passenger – one fill cap on the right rear fender fills all three tanks.

Bizzarrini GT 5300 Strada

Bizzarrini GT 5300 Strada

The Espada V12 Lamborghini engine (designed by Giotto Bizzarrini) sits in front and is placed a little more forward than some other cars, which helps provide more interior space and improved comfort. The Espada is designed for speed and comfort on long trips – not racing or going fast on curvy roads.

The Bizzarrini GT 5300 engine is a Corvette 327 cid V8 and sits so far back that the dashboard has a panel for access to the distributor. It is considered a front mid-engine placement, which results in a near 50/50 front to back weight balance – better for racing.

Lamborghini Espada

Lamborghini Espada ready for the road

Bizzarrini GT 5300 Strada

Lamborghini Espada

Ferrari 250 GTO, Ferrari 250 Breadvan, Bizzarrini GT 5300 Strada and Lamborghini Espada

In the photos below you can compare the side view of the Espada on the bottom to the Ferrari 250 GTO, Ferrari 250 Breadvan and Bizzarrini GT 5300 Strada.

Note the Espada has a roof shape similar to the Breadvan. The Espada wheelbase is a few inches longer than the other three. I think the Bizzarrini looks like a continued evolution of the Breadvan.

From Top to Bottom: Ferrari 250 GTO, Ferrari 250 Breadvan, Bizzarrini GT 5300 Strada

From Top to Bottom: Ferrari 250 GTO, Ferrari 250 Breadvan, Bizzarrini GT 5300 Strada

Lamborghini Espada

Lamborghini Espada

All of the parameters which allow for four people to ride in style and comfort impact the Espada exterior styling and eye appeal. Inside the Espada is comfortable and a pleasure to drive. The Bizzarrini style was dictated by racing goals and is not necessarily comfortable for both driver and passenger. Naturally there is no air conditioning in the Bizzarrini like there is in the Espada.

The underside of the Espada is not as low to the ground as one would expect. I have not yet scraped the ground driving the Espada. The Bizzarrini on the other hand has very little distance from the oil pan to the ground and it is easy to scrape the ground when going over bumps or dips in the road. Fortunately there is a scrape guard on the front underside that takes a lot of the impact.

My tastes evolve as I mature. What once was unusual or even odd may now be elegant and sophisticated. That is the Lamborghini Espada for me today and has always been the Bizzarrini GT 5300.

I like what I like and that may not be what everyone else likes.

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Lamborghini Espada No. 8155 - February 2017

Bizzarrini GT 5300 Strada

Lamborghini Logo

Bizzarrini logo

Summary
My Evolution - The Nature Of Classic Car Beauty And Style
Article Name
My Evolution - The Nature Of Classic Car Beauty And Style
Description
My tastes evolve as I mature. What once was unusual or even odd may now be elegant and sophisticated.
Author

Comments

  1. Peter Heimann says

    Mike – because of your encyclopedic knowledge of Italien high performance cars and design, I for one am not surprised by your choices. I have always been attracted to Italien 2+2s starting with the 250 GTE, but once I saw the ISO Rivolta on the cover of Road & Track way back when, I never waivered. And at the time I had no appreciation of its design provenance. To own a car with the names of Rivolta, Guigaro and Bizzarrini (ok, and Corvette) associated with it is to be, in my opinion, in the realm of the gods. It never got better than that.

    • Peter,

      I have loved both the Ferrari 250 GTE and the Iso Rivolta GT since I first saw them. The 250 GTE has appreciated beyond reasonable for me and finding a good condition Iso Rivolta for sale is a challenge.

  2. mike kerns says

    Love your taste in cars Mike.. Great read..

  3. Your taste in cars Mike is unquestionable, the thought that crosses my mind is that as a global society it would seem our collective taste (not universally) have changed, such that modern styling does not reflect the same charm that adorned these gems of a bygone era that captured our imaginations, as we barrel towards a future of self driving cars that no one will necessarily own. These not so distant past, drivable fights of fancy to some of us will become even more dear. Hopefully these wonderful excesses will not be swept under the rug as having never existed by the emerging attitudes… I find that I for one am even more appreciative of many cars that I once thought were just ok… Having owned many what are considered classic exotic cars including 4 Espada’s as time passes I find them all the more endearing. The older i get (65 now) I find driving down the road I have a difficult time even identifying even cars by brand design until I get close enough to see badging, and worst I guess I am more indifferent, as they generally do not capture that place in my imagination that seeing my first Ghibli or Espada did years ago. Back when cars made design statements.

  4. The elegance of the fastback just cannot be ignored. I never have considered owning a convertible version because the car would lose that elegance, at least when the top is up. I am surprised, though, to see my neighbor’s 1950 something Chevrolet with its fastback, then see just how close that decidedly utilitarian U.S. offering came to emulating an automobile that was produced by Rolls Royce.

    • Point well made the coupe as a design palate is one that designers love to explore, certainly one of my favorite styling starts

      • I agree most cars designed as a coupe do not look quite right as a convertible.

        We all remember when we could drive down the street and recognize every car make and usually even the model. The manufacturers took pride in their distinct design style. That culture has slipped away except for the expensive makes.

  5. An excellent article. Many thanks, Mike. Always good to see pics of these cars of yours (we can never get enough!) and what you have said here as well. Next time, can we include the Cobra, as well, please?

  6. wallace wyss says

    Let’s put the Iso Fidia on your list. From the side it has character for a four door. From the back it kooks great without a rear bumper. Only the front disappoints—kind of a pale re-creation of the Mangusta grille & headlamps.

    • Wallace,

      I am a fan of the Iso Fidia and I think it looks great from all angles. Sure Giugiaro borrowed his own style for the front but I like it. It is distinctly Italian.

      Why do we value 4-doors and 4-seats less than two?

  7. wallace wyss says

    About the 427 Cobra design, :the interesting thing about its styling is that it evolved in styling out of the innocent looking A,C, Ace 2.6 from England purely of necessity. Shelby wanted wider wheels and tires so added fender flares at first to the small block works racing cars and then said what the hell let’s move the whole fenders out further until by the time they changed from leaf springs to coil springs in the big block and moved the frame tubes out further, it took on a whole new look . A little like some scrawny kid joining the football team and exercising continuously so he puts on muscle and becomes a holy terror on the ball field, That is styling of a sports car in its purest sense– the mission shaped the car, kind of like thoroughbred horse racing, where they are continually mating winners to produce the ultimate horse..

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