Bizzarrini 5300 SI Spyder Prototipo. (Image credits: Rob Clements)
Giotto Bizzarrini was one of Italy's leading engineers in the late 1950s and 1960s. After working for Alfa Romeo, Bizzarrini moved to Ferrari where he was responsible for the development of the 250 GTO. He left the Maranello based manufacturer in the big winter 1961 walk-out. Now as a consultant, he joined forces against Enzo Ferrari with Feruccio Lamborghini, who was interested in developing a Ferrari-beating luxury GT. Bizzarrini's efforts resulted in the 350 GTV prototype, destined to be fitted with a beautifully designed 3.5 litre V12 engine.
His second customer was Renzo Rivolta's Iso. Under his supervision, the Iso Rivolta and Grifo A3 models were developed. The Grifo A3C was an ingeniously designed GT-racer. It was easily recognizable from the road going A3L by its ultra-low body work. In a quest to get the perfect weight balance, the Chevrolet Corvette engine was moved so far back in the chassis that it was only partly visible when the hood was opened; the engine's coils could be reached through a flap on the dashboard. On the track it proved immediately successful, with a class victory in the 1964 24 Hours of Le Mans race.
Seeking more success, Bizzarrini requested Rivolta to increase the racing department's budget. Rivolta refused and Bizzarrini walked out again, but with the rights to produce the A3C. Iso did however, retain the Grifo name for further production of the A3L model. Now produced under the Bizzarrini name, the sleek car was now known as the '5300 GT Strada' or '5300 GT Corsa', for the road going and racing examples respectively. Production lasted just three years, in which just over 100 examples were produced.
One of the stars of the 1966 Geneva Motorshow was found on Bizzarrini's stand, the 5300 SI Spyder. Of the 104 road cars to be produced, three examples were fitted with a Spyder body. Under Bizzarrini's supervision, its all-alloy body was developed at Turin's Stile Italia (SI). Other unique features included retractable head lights, seats molded in the body and a multi function roof design. The alloy hardtop was fitted with separate roof panels, which allowed the Spyder to be a Coupe, Targa or full Convertible. Two more examples were produced in 1967 and 1968 by Stile Italia, both slightly different from the Geneva "Prototipo".
Shown above is the Prototipo, fully restored after being in hiding for over three decades. The restoration was completed just hours before it made its debut at the 2004 Concorso d'Italia and Meadow Brook Concours d'Elegance, where Giotto Bizzarrini was celebrated with a separate class. The car's current owner is also in possession of one of the two production Spyders.
(Image credits: Rob Clements)
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