Bizzarrini Could Return After 50 Years With Former Aston Martin Executives at the Helm
Bizzarrini once produced sleek Italian coupes with V-8 power and it will return under new ownershipby Ciprian Florea, on LISTEN 06:17
Bizzarrini, an Italian manufacturer that built a few notable sports and racing cars in the 1960s, could return after 50 years of absence. The company formerly led by engineer and designer Giotto Bizzarrini is reportedly being revived by London-based luxury car dealer group Pegasus Brands and a team led by former Aston Martin CEO Dr. Ulrich Bez.
Bizzarrini is returning as a low-volume manufacturer
Founded in 1964 by Giotto Bizzarrini, who previously worked as an engineer at Ferrari and Alfa Romeo, the Bizzarrini brand survived for only five years, being abandoned in 1969.
More than 50 years later, some of its designs have reached iconic status and Pegasus Brands wants to take advantage of that and revive the name. According to Autocar, revival efforts will be led by a trio of former Aston Martin executives, including Dr. Ulrich Bez.
Details of an official relaunch and future cars are unknown at this point, but Bizzarrini will operate in London, Geneva, Kuwait, Abu Dhabi, and Dubai. The plan is to ensure that the "legendary name lives on to compete on the global stage, while also engaging with a new generation of collectors and enthusiasts."
Ulrich Bez is the most prominent name involved in the project and he will act as chairman of the new Bizzarrini company. Bez has worked at four major carmakers, including Porsche, BMW, and Aston Martin. At Porsche, he led the company’s motorsport efforts in Formula One and Le Mans and he also directed the development of the first 911 Turbo, the Carrera RS 2.7, 968, and the 993-generation 911. At BMW, Bez helped develop the Z1, a V-8 engine concept and various car systems. He was also vice president of engineering at Daewoo in the 1990s, helping the brand reach global recognition.
Bez joined Aston Martin in 2000, spending 13 years with the British company.
As chief executive, he turned Aston Martin into a global luxury brand, increasing sales and recognition. He also oversaw the launch of 20 new car models, as well as the company’s return to motorsport in five different categories.
At Bizzarrini, Bez will work with other former Aston Martin employees: CEO Christopher Sheppard, who led the brand’s Middle East North Africa division, and CMO Janette Green, who worked for the British company for almost 10 years.
Giotto Bizzarrini wasn’t named in the company’s revival plans, which could mean that the man who created the original firm might not be included in the modern incarnation of the carmaker.
Giotto Bizzarrini’s successful career and his short-lived company
Bizzarrini was established in 1964, at a time when its founder, Giotto Bizzarrini, was already a famous engineer. Giotto began his career as a test driver for Alfa Romeo in 1953, but he was quickly noticed for his engineering skills and joined Ferrari in 1957.
He was quickly promoted to handle experimental and sports car development and influenced the design and engineering of the Ferrari 250 GT 2+2, 250 GT SWB, 250 TR, and the 3.0-liter Testa Rossa V-12 engine. Bizzarrini also developed the chassis, engine, and dynamics of the 250 GTO, arguably the most iconic Ferrari ever built.
In 1961, Bizzarrini left Ferrari alongside other five engineers, following a conflict within the company’s engineering staff. They founded a new company called ATS to build a Formula One car and a road-legal sports car. In 1962, Bizzarrini helped develop the unique Ferrari Breadvan, a race car based on the 250GT, using the ideas he applied for the GTO project.
Later in the 1960s, Giotto was commissioned by Lamborghini to design its first V-12 engine for the 350 GT. Variations and upgrades of Bizzarrini’s original V-12 design was used by the Italian company until 2010. Right before he established Bizzarrini, Giotto developed the Iso Rivolta IR 300 and the Iso Grifo, the latter a famous grand tourer powered by an American V-8 engine.
Based in Livorno, Bizzarrini produced both road-legal and race cars.
The 5300 Strada, the brand’s first street car, was introduced in 1966. Based on the Iso Rivolta, the 5300 was a sleek two-door coupe powered by a 5.4-liter, Chevy small-block V-8 engine rated at 365 horsepower. A total of 133 units were produced until 1968. A scaled-down GT followed in 1966, called the 1900 GT Europa. Originally a concept design for Opel, the Europa was built in some 17 units after the British company launched a less aggressive production model. Giotto’s third car was the P538, a mid-engined race car designed for endurance racing. Five examples were built with the 5.4-liter Chevy V-8, but one was delivered with a Lamborghini V-12 mill.
Race-spec Bizzarrinis were raced at both the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the 12 Hours of Sebring. The outfit’s biggest success was achieved at Le Mans in 1965, when a Bizzarrini won the 5.0-liter class and finished ninth overall.
Following the bankruptcy of Bizzarrini, Giotto was involved in a few other car projects, most notably the production version of the AMC AMX/3 concept. He has also built replicas of the P538 in Livorno during the late 2000s. In 2005, the new owner of the marque introduced the GT Strada 4.1 concept at the Geneva Motor Show.