Giotto Bizzarrini, Ferrari and Lamborghini Icon, Has Died
Giotto Bizzarrini, the automotive industry icon behind the Ferrari 250 GTO and Lamborghini’s famed V-12 engine, passed away on May 13, aged 96.
Bizzarrini Design, the revived automotive outfit bearing Giotto’s name, took to Instagram yesterday to share news of his passing just ahead of his 97th birthday. Bizzarrini was one of the last remaining titans of the golden age of the Italian automotive industry, himself attached to projects set to be remembered long after all of us. Bizzarrini’s automotive career began all the way back in 1953, when he joined Alfa Romeo after graduating from the University of Pisa earlier that same year. Bizzarrini would work on the development program for the Giulietta, before ultimately becoming a test driver and engineer for the brand’s more experimental projects. For his efforts at Alfa, Bizzarrini would be recruited to join Ferrari in 1957.
During his time as chief engineer at Maranello, Bizzarrini would have a hand in creating the brand’s most iconic and valuable car: the 250 GTO. Development of the project is said to have begun with Bizzarrini own short wheelbase 250 GT, which he’d help transform into a proper motorsports competitor. Improved weight distribution, a relocated engine, dry sump oiling, and reworked aero helped solidify the car’s performance on track. Bizzarrini wouldn’t be at Ferrari when “Il Mostro” entered production however, as he departed the company as part of the Great Ferrari Walkout of 1961. The 250 GTO would go on to win the FIA’s over 2000cc class for GT Manufacturers in 1962, 1963, and 1964. Only 36 were built, today remaining some of the most expensive cars in the world.
Bizzarrini would continue his influence in the automotive world as an independent engineer before creating the Societa Autostar in 1962. It would be through Societa Autosta that Bizzarrini helped develop the Iso Rivolta and Grifo models during their short-lived relationship. It would also be during this time that another Italian sports car maker would come to Bizzarini for help in taking on Ferrari: Ferruccio Lamborghini.
It was Bizzarrini who developed the first V-12 engine for use in Lamborghini products, which made its debut in the 350 GT model. The 3.5-liter V-12 started its life as a high-strung revver, spinning all the way up to 9800 rpm. Ferruccio was aiming for a more relaxed motor for street use than one might find in a Ferrari, and so the brand’s engineers worked with Bizzarrini to relax the dual-overhead cam monster. That said, a hot version of the engine would be spun sideways and stuck in the middle of the Miura, birthing the world’s first mid-engine supercar. The Bizzarrini V-12 proved to be an absolute powerhouse for Lamborghini, with its architecture being carried over until the Murciélago left production just over a decade ago.
Giotto would go on to sell his own sports cars under Bizzarrini SpA, a company birthed from Societa Autosta. The Bizzarrini 5300 GT Strada arrived in 1964, based on the Iso Rivolta platform. Under the hood sat a 5.4-liter V-8 sourced from Chevrolet producing 365 hp. The next year, a Bizzarrini 5300 GT won its class at the 1965 iteration of the 24 hours of Le Mans. Only 133 cars were ever made, ensuring their highly collectible status today. More recently, the Bizzarrini name has once again found itself attached to a new supercar. Known simply as Giotto, the V-12-powered supercar aims to honor the incredible career achieved by its namesake. While Giotto himself wasn’t involved in the project, we’re sure the company is more committed than ever to do the man justice.
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