The Story Of The Le Mans Underdog: 1965 Bizzarrini A3/C

The Story Of The Le Mans Underdog: 1965 Bizzarrini A3/C

“Anything Ferrari does, Bizzarrini could do better”

Long, exposed, low-slung, raw, and most importantly menacing. A car that should deserve more recognition than it gets. If you want to learn about this ever-so-stunning car, we have to start from the beginning. Giotto Bizzarrini was the race car savant for Ferrari. After he graduated from technical school he was hired by Alfa Romeo, this caught the prancing horse’s ear, and shortly after in the mid to late 50s, Ferrari hired him.

If you have to know anything about Giotto Bizzarrini, it is that he was ahead of his time, in beauty aspects, racing aspects, and also in technical aspects. Becoming one of the first engineers to ever understand and dip his toes into the world of aerodynamics. You might not recognize Bizzarrini himself, but you will recognize his work. The Italian engineer designed and developed the infamous Lamborghini V12 engine. He was also heavily involved in the Ferrari 250 GT SWB ‘Short wheelbase’, along with the Berlinetta models and variants. Yet, the Ferrari 250 GTO is his most known creation, arguably the most valuable car to ever exist. The 250 GTO was Gittos’ creation from start to finish, every rivet, every line, every aspect, was part of his vision.

Photo Credit: Classic Driver

Most call and label the Bizzarrini A3/C a 1965 250 GTO, because if he were still at Ferrari this is what the 250 GTO would have probably looked like and evolved to. If you look at and scrutinize closely, you can see a few similarities between the Bizzarrini and the Ferrari 250 GTO Series 2. However, Giotto was out of Ferrari before it could have evolved to this design.

The Palace Revolt was an interesting situation that indirectly led to the Bizzarrini company. There was a man name Gardini, and he was the person who decided who was going to buy and get a Ferrari 250 GTO and the 250 Testarossas, he was like family to Ferrari, and he did his job well as he knew who should get one, and who shouldn’t. However, Laura Ferrari had different plans as she would suggest who Gardini should let to buy Ferrari’s. After a while, Gardini broke down and told Enzo, “it’s either me or her”. Yes… I know, it’s pretty dramatic, but what else did you expect? With Enzo’s stubbornness and his temper, he fires Gardini on the spot. The whole staff was left in shock as they knew how significant Gardini is to the company, so his workers signed a petition to bring him back, Enzo didn’t like that, so he fired them all as well.

Photo Credit: My Auto World

Giotto went on to build a mid-engine car, the ATS 2500 GT, which was unthinkable during that time period. No one else was doing that, most sports cars were either front-engined or rear-engined, but Bizzarrini created a car that predated the first mid-engine sports car, the Lamborghini Muira. Bizzarrini then went to work for a few others such as Iso Rivolta, yet, he wanted his own company and his own cars. One of his old coworkers from Ferrari that had also been dropped was in the line for a 250 GTO, but he didn’t get along with Enzo and was dropped from that line as well. So Giotto went on to build him the aerodynamic Breadvan, which was also faster than the GTO due to its setback and lowered engine, which gave it an immensely effective low center of gravity.

It was clearly evident that Bizzirani was one of the first aerodynamicists as he understood the airflow, downforce, and drag of cars. Not only that, but Giotto understood racing and race cars, which led him to use that technology in his cars. Bizzirani always wanted to be a racer, so he built and designed the 1965 Bizzarrini A3/C or actually known as the Iso A3/C to be his own race car that he and others could race. Ironically, aerodynamics was not the strong suit of this car, as it incorporated slab-sides, which led the air to flow on the sides of the car instead of under the car. However, the pros outweigh the cons with this stunning moving piece of art.

Photo Credit: Petrolicious and Artebellum

This car is more than unique, and it’s not just the looks that make it predominately special, but the way it drives and makes you feel. You are set so low to the ground in this car, it is like a go-kart but more eye-catching. The engine, the shape, the power, the steering, and handling, this car had it all, a true purpose-built race car. Interestingly enough, Bizzirani didn’t have enough time to develop an engine, and he always loved Chevy V8’s, so he made the Bizzirani with a slightly modified 327 Chevy V8, it was a passionate Italian car with a powerful Corvette motor. This was like a slap to the face for Ferrari. As Jay Leno says there is nothing sexier than an American engine with Italian Weber Carburetors…

Under the hood, the 1965 Bizzarrini A3/C is powered by a front-mid-engined, front-mid-engined meaning the engine was behind the front axle and slightly mounted under the dashboard. Also implying you can set the timing through the dash. The immense power coming from the American V8 was able to produce a total power output of 400bhp @ 6000 rpm. This was a true race car, produced in an era where you could drive your race to the racetrack, win the race, and drive back home.

It runs spectacularly well and is built of a composite of aluminum and fiberglass. The hood is aluminum and most, if not all other parts are built of fiberglass. The lightweight chassis and body was a huge advantage for racing, as it was light, nimble, and agile in the corners. With the exposed rivets and elongated flowing bonnet, no words are able to describe this underrated race car that was and is beyond beautiful, and advanced for its time.

The distinctive wheel rims stuck out of the crowd as it didn’t run wire wheels, unlike most sports cars of the day. It’s a stunner, but its racing history and heritage are even more impressive. It raced at the Nürburgring, at Reims and was even raced by Chris Amon and Maurice Trenton. The Bizzirani had a prestigious and fascinating career, as it came, conquered, and no one even knew about it.

It’s most significant racing result at the time, was at the most infamous and honorary race. The 24 hours of Le Mans. Sadly, Giotto never had the money to homologate it, so it ran in the 5 liter prototype class as it had a decently big displacement size of 5.4L. The first time out, chassis number 0222 won the 5-liter class and finished ninth overall in the ever-so-difficult endurance race.

Photo Credit: Classic Driver

Even though the name is not known among most crowds, Bizzirani was able to indirectly change the automotive and motorsport world forever, and not just with this car. He took his visions and ideas and put them to the test, creating some of the most revolutionary cars, designs, and engines.

If you would like to know more about this car, one of the owners, Bruce Myers, speaks and explains this car beautifully on YouTube videos such as Jay Leno’s Garage and Petrolicious.





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Paul Tranter

Paul Tranter

Chief Human at I’m literally buzzing with ideas!

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