My Car Quest

September 29, 2023

This Bizzarrini P538 is Up for Auction in Monterey

by Mike Gulett –

The Bizzarrini P538 is a mid-engine topless race car with a tubular or rectangular steel chassis covered by a fiberglass body. This is a stunning car in person, however, it did not have a successful race career. It is believed to have been styled by Giorgetto Giugaro of Bertone. In the P538 name ā€œPā€ is for posteriore, meaning the engine is behind the driver, 538 means 5.3 liter engine with 8 cylinders.

Bizzarrini P538

Originally introduced in late 1965 there have been many continuation cars made since the original four (although one of these four was likely made from parts from an earlier wrecked car). The car at auction here is one of those continuation cars.

The first Bizzarrini P538 was commissioned by the American race car driver, Mike Gammino who intended to race it in the Can-Am series. Gammino wanted the Lamborghini V12 engine to be used because he liked that engine and because Giotto Bizzarrini was the designer of that engine. The Gammino P538 would be an all Bizzarrini race car in a way. The others used a Corvette 327 cid engine.

Bizzarrini P538

Bizzarrini P538

The P538 was a very unlucky race car, they were crashed and generally did not have a successful race history. As far as I can tell it was not the fault of the car itself but caused by some bad luck on the track and money problems as usual.

1965 Bizzarrini P538 – Commissioned by Jacques Lavost

Estimate – $600,000 – $800,000

This Bizzarrini P538, up for auction at Mecum in Monterey, was commissioned in the late 1970s by Frenchman Jacques Lavost. It was built in the early 1980s by Bizzarrini, Reali and Diomante at Bizzarrini’s home in Gabbro near Livorno Italy. This is according to the book, “Bizzarrini” by Jack Koobs de Hartog.

I met M. Jacques Lavost in Italy a few years ago and he is a gentleman and car lover.

Bizzarrini P538

Bizzarrini P538

Bizzarrini P538

This same Bizzarrini was at this Mecum auction in 2014 with an estimate of $800,000 ā€“ $900,000 and was a no sale at a high bid of $500,000.

Mecum writes,

– Chassis No. P538B04 commissioned by Frenchman Jacques Lavost with copy of French papers

– Chassis built by Bizzarrini in the late 1960s at Bizzarrini’s home in Gabbro near Livorno documented in Auto Italiana

– Finishing and testing started in the mid 1970s at Salvatore Diomonte’s shop

– Single frame built with square tubes and radiators next to the engine instead in the front

– Build completed in 1978

– Built with a different front air-intake

– Side intakes in the doors instead of rear wings

– Two triangular-section headrests with matching roll-bars

– Rebuilt engine and transmission in 2013

– 327 CI V-8 Chevrolet engine

– Weber carburetors on a Campagnolo manifold

– Exhaust changed to 180 crossover

– Italian ASI certifications

Bizzarrini P538

Bizzarrini P538

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Bizzarrini P538

Bizzarrini logo

All photos by Mike Gulett.
Summary
This Bizzarrini P538 is Up for Auction in Monterey
Article Name
This Bizzarrini P538 is Up for Auction in Monterey
Description
This Bizzarrini P538, up for auction at Mecum in Monterey, was commissioned in the late 1970s by Frenchman Jacques Lavost.
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Comments

  1. SKIP HINOJOS says

    HIND SIGHT IS A KILLER. I HAD A CHANCE ONCE TO MAKE THE MOLDS FOR THIS CAR , AND DIDN’T. THERE WERE FIVE OF THESE CARS BUILT, THREE HAD LABO V12S AND TWO HAD CHEVY ENGINES. I DID BUILD THE MOLDS FOR THE 5300 S AND MADE FOUR BODIES, ALL SOLD YEARS AGO.

  2. The high bid was $450,000 – so the Bid Goes On…

  3. Robert Feldman says

    There is a Lamborghini powered P538 in the Simeone Museum in Philly. Anybody know if this is Mike Gammino’s car or one of the copies? Knowing how Dr. Simeone valued originality I would like to believe it’s an original.

    • The original Gammino car is in the San Diego Museum . It was car number 002 . 001 was built for Gammino , but it crashed in testing, so Giotto had to offer up one of his LeMans cars that he was building at the same time. Gammino painted his car blue and yellow, but 002 currently has a coat of red paint. Car number 003 was Bizzarrini’s LeMans entry. The factory went BK and car 004 was the enclosed Duca D Aosta coupe. The only P538 to have a VIN number was the Duca D Aosta’s car. I only use the numbers to reference their build sequence.

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