My Car Quest

June 24, 2022

The Bizzarrini GT 5300 (Iso Grifo A3) Is Loved By All – Now

by Mike Gulett –

I became fascinated (or maybe obsessed) with the Bizzarrini GT 5300 (Iso Grifo A3) around 2004 and started a search to find one to acquire for my own. I discovered that most car people had not heard of Bizzarrini before and so few people knew much of anything that was helpful to me in my search. The exception was the Iso & Bizzarrini Owner’s Club led by Don Meluzio who owned a Bizzarrini GT 5300 Strada and later owned one of the three Bizzarrini GT 5300 Spyders. Jack Koobs de Hartog in Belgium and Chris Lackner in the U.K. were very helpful to me as well.

Bizzarrini GT 5300 Strada

Mike Gulett’s Bizzarrini GT 5300 Strada

After four years of searching I finally bought a special Bizzarrini GT 5300 Strada at the Russo & Steele auction in Monterey in August 2008. My newly acquired Bizzarrini was profiled in the Sports Car Market (SCM) magazine in November 2008. The auction, the car, the seller and me were also on a TV show hosted by Keith Martin, publisher of Sports Car Market.

Bizzarrini GT 5300 at Russo and Steele Auction in Monterey

Bizzarrini GT 5300 at Russo & Steele Auction (2008)

A Bizzarrini GT 5300 makes the cover of Sports Car Market

In the recent issue of SCM a Bizzarrini GT 5300 that sold at auction is not only profiled but it is on the cover. My Bizzarrini was not on the cover in 2008 I suspect because it was so little known at the time. Now, however, the Bizzarrini name and cars are much more well known in the collector car community.

Maybe some of the increased Bizzarrini recognition could be attributed to my writing about the Bizzarrini brand regularly for the past 11 plus years here on My Car Quest (note the header at the top of My Car Quest is still the side profile of the special example that I owned for many years). I also took my Bizzarrini up and down the US West Coast to many of the concours events in California for years and won several awards plus was on the TV show My Classic Car With Dennis Gage in 2009. I was interviewed by Adam Carolla for his on-line car show, although that video is no longer on-line, which is too bad because if you know Adam Carolla you know it was funny.

Sports Car Market Magazine April 2022

Sports Car Market Magazine April 2022

When I started my search in 2004 I could have bought a few Bizzarrini GT 5300s for about $250,000 USD, now a very good condition example with no stories will sell for well above $1 million USD. That appreciation is an indication of the collector car world finally understanding the Bizzarrini story.

Today the Bizzarrini is well known by car lovers who follow really cool cars. In the cover story of the Sports Car Market profile of Bizzarrini GT 5300 chassis number IA3*0309 they published “The Cumberford Perspective”, which I always find interesting and educational. In this one however, Mr. Cumberford gets some things wrong about Bizzarrini air vents. Even though the facts have been published here on My Car Quest and I know Mr. Cumberford occasionally reads My Car Quest. One cannot know the facts about these air vents by looking at photos, knowing what they do requires a hands on experience.

The two intake vents below the headlights send air into the cabin on the Strada model and send air to the carburetors or maybe the front brakes on the Corsa model. The exhaust air vents behind the rear glass take air from under the car just behind the in-board brakes and exhaust it out. They do not send air, or exhaust air, to or from the cabin. Because the air source into the cabin is removed on the Corsa the Corsa will have intake vents either on the top of the front fenders or the rear window or both sending air to the cabin so the driver does not cook during a race.

I plan to write more about Bizzarrini GT 5300 air flow soon with help from my friend Ken Phillips.

Questionable history

The subtitle of the SCM Bizzarrini profile was “A fair price for a car with questionable history.” It turns out that questionable history is one of the big gotchas in searching for a Bizzarrini. A fake Bizzarrini was sold at auction a few years ago that fooled the buyer, at least, and probably others. I know because the buyer called me after he read my article. I know of another Bizzarrini that had two chassis numbers stamped on it for unknown reasons. The SCM cover car also had a chassis number problem as described in the SCM article.

Stephen Serio, the author of this SCM article wrote,

Aficionados are well aware of the importance, significance and pedigree of a proper 5300 GT. There is no collector-car checklist that this car doesn’t make. If ever there was a car guy’s car, you’re looking at it.

I agree completely with Mr. Serio. I have had the experience of driving my Bizzarrini GT 5300 around many show fields and having everyone stop and stare (at the car not at me). I also have been followed onto the show field early in the morning by other exhibitors who wanted to see more of the Bizzarrini.

Bizzarrini GT 5300 Strada

The Bizzarrini GT 5300 (Iso Grifo A3) has become so popular there have been many companies making new versions or replicas and in one case a continuation Sanction II.

Here are some that I know of…

A new Bizzarrini GT 5300 is coming

As evidence of the increased popularity of Bizzarrini the car, Bizzarrini the (new) company has been revived and is planning to produce 24 examples of their Bizzarrini 5300 GT Revival Corsa. These are to be near replicas of the GT 5300 Corsa (Iso Grifo A3/C). They have used chassis number 0222 as a model, which won its class at Le Mans in 1965 and was ninth overall and is now owned by Bruce Meyer. They also have access to the original drawings and specifications.

They are making some changes for safety like eliminating the gas tanks in the door sills, which held 7.5 gallons of fuel each in addition to a 20 gallon tank behind the cockpit. Most Bizzarrini race cars removed these door sill gas tanks for obvious safety reasons. My Bizzarrini GT 5300 Strada, however, had these tanks in place and fully functional. I was very careful when driving through a busy intersection.

Bizzarrini 5300 GT Revival Corsa - photo by Bizzarrini

Bizzarrini 5300 GT Revival Corsa – photo by Bizzarrini

They are also using a light tubular steel frame, where the original was built on a rigid, pressed steel, box-section chassis, which was a shortened version of that used for the Iso Rivolta GT and Iso Grifo GL. They intend the 5300 GT Revival Corsa to meet Appendix K FIA regulations for racing purposes.

The first example has been completed and is being tested and first customer deliveries are expected by May 2022. The bodies are made from fiberglass; I wish it would be aluminum because that was Giotto Bizzarrini’s first choice. He only made fiberglass bodies because he could not pay his supplier Carrozzeria Sports Cars (Piero Drogo) for aluminum bodies he had received and could not pay cash up front for new ones so he switched body suppliers to a fiberglass supplier. Only 12 with fiberglass bodies were made originally. So this run of the GT 5300 Corsa has the potential to triple the number of fiberglass bodied Bizzarrini GT 5300s. They also will make a body from carbon fiber if the customer desires.

Bizzarrini 5300 GT Revival Corsa

Bizzarrini 5300 GT Revival Corsa – photo by Bizzarrini

The price for this new Bizzarrini GT 5300 Corsa starts at 1.65 million British pounds (approximately $2.16 million USD) according to Motor Authority. It seems to me the price could not be more than an original very good condition aluminum bodied example with no stories, could it? As I said above that would be just more than $1 million USD today. So, the price of $2.16 million USD seems a little high to me.

Since I have not read anything about the participation of Giotto Bizzarrini I assume he is not involved.

Iso Rivolta A3/C Sanction II by Il Bottegone, Iso Restorations in Clusone, Italy

In 1974 Roberto Negri became the sole proprietor of all the inventory of the Iso Rivolta Company. He is now the owner of Il Bottegone, Iso Restorations, located in Clusone, Italy.

Iso Rivolta A3/C Continuation Series

Iso Rivolta A3/C Sanction II – photo by Mike Gulett

The Iso Rivolta A3/C Sanction II is an original continuation of the legendary Iso Rivolta A3/C. According to the company these cars are 100% correct and authentic, and remanufactured according to original Iso factory construction drawings and specifications. The number made is naturally limited because of the limit of available authentic parts.

Iso Rivolta A3/C Continuation Series

Iso Rivolta A3/C Sanction II – photo by Gerd Eckstein

These are exceptionally well made cars. I visited Il Bottegone, Iso Restorations a few years ago and was able to inspect two examples up close and take a ride in the first one made and was very impressed.

The ISORIVOLTA GTZ by Zagato

The GTZ is a homage to the style and idea of the Bizzarrini GT 5300 (or Iso Grifo A3), known as the ISORIVOLTA GTZ by Zagato. They do not mention the name Bizzarrini but this is clearly an update of the Bizzarrini Iso A3 concept built on a modern Chevrolet Corvette platform limited to 19 examples.

Iso Rivolta GTZ by Zagato

Iso Rivolta GTZ by Zagato – photo by Zagato

Iso Rivolta GTZ by Zagato

Iso Rivolta GTZ by Zagato – photo by Zagato

They write,

Made by Zagato as a tribute to celebrate the rebirth of ISORIVOLTA, the GTZ combines design and performance, like its progenitor: the ISO A3.

Some of you may be wondering why Zagato is designing and selling Iso Rivolta cars when Zagato and Iso Rivolta did not work together originally. The answer is – there is a family connection between the Zagato and Rivolta families; Andrea Zagato (CEO of Zagato) is married to Marella Rivolta Zagato, the daughter of Piero Rivolta (the last CEO of Iso) and she is the granddaughter of Renzo Rivolta the founder of Iso.

These look to be very interesting modern interpretations of the Bizzarrini GT 5300 (Iso Grifo A3).

Individual craftsmen making their own replica

I know of a few individuals that are making a replica Bizzarrini GT 5300 from scratch using either an Iso Rivolta chassis, which would need to be shortened, or they are making their own chassis. One talented builder is creating a Bizzarrini GT 5300 on a seriously damaged original Bizzarrini GT 5300 chassis, which means everything else needs to be created from scratch including the aluminum body.

Bizzarrini GT 5300 Body

Bizzarrini GT 5300 Fiberglass Body

I have not seen any of these completed but I hope to see one or more in the future. More power to them!

Summary

The increased interest in the Bizzarrini GT 5300 (Iso Grifo A3) models naturally results in higher prices. After all there are fewer than 100 real ones left, not nearly enough for all who want one.

As we see the increased interest in the Bizzarrini motivates companies to produce replicas, modern interpretations or Sanction II models and individuals to make their own replica. It also motivates unscrupulous people to make fakes and sell them as authentic.

Bizzarrini GT 5300 and Mike Gulett

Bizzarrini GT 5300 and Mike Gulett

I am in favor of all of these new versions of this wonderful classic as long as when it is for sale the buyer knows what they are buying.

If you are searching for your own Bizzarrini GT 5300 (Iso Grifo A3) be extra careful in your research and inspections to ensure you are getting what you pay for.

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Bizzarrini logo

Iso A3/C Logo

Summary
The Bizzarrini GT 5300 (Iso Grifo A3) Is Loved By All - Now
Article Name
The Bizzarrini GT 5300 (Iso Grifo A3) Is Loved By All - Now
Description
I became fascinated (or maybe obsessed) with the Bizzarrini GT 5300 (Iso Grifo A3) around 2004 and started a search to find one to acquire for my own. I discovered that most car people had not heard of Bizzarrini before.
Author

Comments

  1. NUNZIO BARONE says

    Propongo il segment sito per i numeri di telaio (declino responsabilità sull’inesattezza dei dati riportati):

    I propose the following site for the chassis numbers (I decline responsibility for the inaccuracy of the data reported):

    [This link has been deleted by the Editor because it linked to inaccurate history data.]

  2. Who ever put the list of Vin numbers and information has no idea what they are taking about concerning the 1966 Bizzarrini 5300 Spyder S.I IA3*0245*. This was not a (Mock up) car but a running prototype on a real strada chassis and drive train. This was confirmed by Ing. Giotto Bizzarrini personally during our meeting in Pisa, Italy in 1999. These are the facts. This was a running prototype owned by Bizzarrini’s company until Bankruptcy in 1969 where it changed hands to Giotto’s Attorney Mr. Mancini who had ownership for the next 30 years until I bought it in 1999 in Pisa Italy. It was a running Prototype. Giotto Bizzarrini told me he tried to buy it back from Mancini many times but Mancini just wanted to show it off but had no intention of selling. Giotto confirmed to me this was the original running Prototype loaned to (Stile Italia) S.I in 1966 to use as promotional display vehicle for their company. In return (Stile Italia) changed the Spyder’s color to blue and aesthetic details to show as a production car. All the information can be found on my Website http://www.bizzarrinispyder.com

    Mark Sassak (Owner)

  3. The list of Vin# information on these Bizzarrini’s were from many years ago and are false in it claims and inaccurate with Fraudulent statement made on selective cars and there owners. This list should not have even been posted. I am sure Jack Koobs de Hartog would have a complete list and vin# of actual Bizzarrrini and there history.

  4. Clearly the data on this link is incomplete, outdated and wrong in some cases. This link is in the internet archive and was last updated in 2009 as far as I can tell.

    The best source of information on this subject is the book, “Bizzarrini”, by Jack Koobs de Hartog.

    • Mike , It was a nice article bring out facts on replicas or continuations cars. This list maybe out dated but still the fact the list has “Fraudulent” statement made on selective cars and there owners of 54 year in my case, it should not have been posted. This just feeds into more disinformation I been trying to clean up for 50 years as an original owner . I sure Jack has a list he could post without finding his book to reference.

  5. Bruce Meyer says

    Michael, thanks for championing the marque. I too LOVE Bizzarrinis and especially their racing efforts, which was Giotto’s first love. You’re so right in warning folks to be careful with replicas posing as original cars. Keep up the good work. NEVER LIFT…

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