Rakish. Rapturous. Ecstatic. *Bizzarrini* sounds like the name of one of heads of the five families (Godfather I), but this sports car just slays you with its looks. A Bizzarrini P538 is emerging from the diaspora of rare Italian sports cars of the sixties and will be sold in a couple of weeks.
Gather around, and hear the tale…
Photo Credits: Tom Gidden ©2015 Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s
The Bizzarrini P538 had “the bones” of a successful racer. It employed an aerodynamic, lightweight fiberglass body over a space frame chassis. A rear-mid engined layout cradled either a 327 c.i. Corvette V8 or Lamborghini V12. Power was sent to the rear wheels via a five-speed ZF transaxle, suspension was fully independent all ’round and braking was thanks to inboard discs front and back.
The story really starts with Giotto Bizzarrini, as of course it must. He worked for Alfa Romeo for 3 years contributing to the Giulietta’s chassis. In 1957 he took up with Ferrari, becoming controller of experimental, Sports and GT car development. His achievements included the Ferrari 250 TR, the Ferrari 250 GT SWB and the 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO.
“Giotto, sei licenziato!” Fired in 1961 during the Ferrari “palace revolt”, he briefly joined ATS and then collaborated with Iso Rivolta. There he developed the beloved Grifo both show car and racer versions. The racer won its class at Le Mans in two years and enjoyed a hearty subsequent racing career. There he developed a friendship with the famed Giorgetto Giugiaro, who would pen the Bizzarrini P538S.
Bizzarrini’s advanced racing ideas emerged again with the superb P538S. Alas his namesake, this ultra low barchetta raced in Le Mans but without bottom line success. As consolation, it was clocked as the fastest car down the Mulsanne straight.
As word of the beauty and capability of this car spread throughout the land, it was reincarnated in various privateers’ schemes and dreams in vintage races. On August 13, RM Sotheby’s is going to auction one of the originals as part of the Monterey Week extravaganza.
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