The short existence of the Bizzarrini firm (from 1964 to 1969) gave rise to several remarkable models. Of all the cars produced, the 5300 GT is undoubtedly the most iconic one. It is the Bizzarrini that first comes to mind whenever the name of the brand is mentioned because it is rare (especially in its Strada version). It is also emblematic because it evokes motor racing, and finally because it is the perfect icon of this pivotal period of the 60s. A period linking the post-war era and the modernism of the 70s. A period during which the engineers were driven by a veritable profusion of creativity, with the advent of the noblest examples of the GTs.
Giotto Bizzarrini, a fugitive from Ferrari
After leaving Ferrari, where he was an engineer and was involved in developing the 250, 250 GT SWB, 250 Spider California and 250 GTO Ferraris, Giotto Bizzarrini turned to developing engines (producing the engine of the Lamborghini 350 GTV, in particular). But the turning point in his “post-Ferrari” career came when he met the successful Milanese industrialist Renzo Rivolta. The two men shared the same aim: to build a genuine “GT” car. A Grand Touring, or rather a “Gran Turismo”, designed to emulate the style of a 2 + 2 coupe, both powerful … and reliable!
Their first creation was the Iso Rivolta GT, followed by the Iso Grifo A3L (for Lusso) based on a shortened Iso Rivolta chassis. They are the cars that possessed the DNA of a powerful and reliable GT, both pure and sturdy. With its body designed by Giugiaro and built by Piero Drogo, the Grifo combined an Italian style with a chassis inspired by motor racing, powered by a Chevrolet Corvette V8 engine. A competition version of the Grifo was quickly launched, the Iso Grifo A3C.
This car occupied Giotto Bizzarrini’s time and mind. He focused on competition, whereas Renzo Rivolta wanted to concentrate on road cars. The two men decided to end their cooperation in 1964 because of these different visions.
Giotto Bizzarrini was indeed a true motorsport enthusiast and the results were not long in coming. In 1964 and 1965, Iso Rivoltas were entered at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and also at Sebring and the Nürburgring. Each time they came to Le Mans, an Iso Rivolta won its category. In 1964, the Iso Rivolta bore No. 1 and finished 14th overall, winning the over 5,000 cc class. An even better performance was possible, as the car was immobilized for two hours because of brake pads that were stuck fast in their calipers. In 1965, the car (now an Iso Grifo) bore No. 3 and finished 9th overall (with another class victory).
With his appetite for competition, Giotto Bizzarrini took the plunge and decided to go it alone. He left the name “Grifo” to Renzo Rivolta. In exchange, Bizzarrini obtained enough parts to build a number of Grifo A3Cs. He then launched his own Grifo A3C. It was now called the Bizzarrini 5300 GT Strada for the road-approved version, and the Bizzarrini 5300 GT Corsa for the racing version.
The Bizzarrini 5300 GT Strada, a racing car on the road
While the Strada – designed by Giugiaro with Bertone – was a road car, its specifications resembled those of a competition car. This was the case in particular with its light aluminium body made by BBM in a small workshop near Modena. The body was a semi-monocoque riveted to the chassis.
The 5300 GT Strada had a Borg-Warner T-10 four-speed manual transmission, a de Dion tube rear suspension and a limited-slip differential.
This advanced chassis and body design, combined with an almost perfect weight distribution, gave the Bizzarrini 5300 GT Strada excellent handling characteristics.
Attracted as he was by the world of racing, Bizzarrini assembled only a very few copies of the 5300 GT Strada for the road. Over five years, production is estimated at between 100 and 149 units (the figure of 133 models is often put forward), of which perhaps 70 cars had alloy bodywork.
The Bizzarrini 5300 GT Strada chassis IA3*0281 : a known, clear and amply documented history.
IA3*0281 is one of the seven copies of the car sold in France and registered on November 20, 1967. The car was delivered to Aix-en-Provence, to René Maucort (who ran the Le Roy René sweet-shop, a firm that produces the famous “Calissons” of Aix-en-Provence). The sale was handled by Régis Fraissinet, the manager of the Mondial Auto garage. Fraissinet had a strong bond with Bizzarrini, as he was one of the two drivers of the Iso Grifo at the 1965 edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. A connoisseur of the brand, he was at that time the French dealer in France for the Italian firm. A letter from Régis Fraissinet concerning the IA3*0281 is to be found in the very comprehensive file of the car.
New, the car sported a metallic blue “azzuro” hue with a burgundy-red leather interior. The next owner, Jean-Claude Bajol (from 1987) repainted it red to give it the same colour as a Ferrari GTO (according to him). This was logical for a man (who died in 2011) who was known at the time to be above all a great Ferrari collector. In particular, he owned the Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder of Roger Vadim and a Ferrari 250 GTO (chassis 3451GT, the fifth produced by Ferrari).
Magnificent restoration of more than 2000 hours
Its current owner acquired it in 2012. His wish was to restore this Bizzarrini 5300 GT, with its outstanding pedigree, to its former glory. An integral and extremely meticulous restoration was undertaken. After more than 2000 hours of meticulous work, IA3*0281 is now in a remarkable mechanical condition and state of presentation, and has returned to its original colours. Its aluminium body is in spotless condition. A voluminous file of photos and invoices comes with the car. The sale of this superb Bizzarrini 5300 GT now offers the opportunity to acquire an exceptional model in an equally exceptional state.