A native of Livorno, Bizzarini was chief engineer at Ferrari in the 1950s, working on such notables as the Ferrari 250 GTO. He split from the company in a major upheval in 1961, worked first with ATS, and then started his own company, Bizzarrini, in 1963. Bizzarini also worked for other makers including Iso, Lamborghini, and Alfa Romeo. A series of concept cars in the 2000s bear his name.
Family history and early career
Bizzarini was the son of a rich landowner from Livorno. His grandfather, also named Giotto Bizzarrini, was a biologist who had worked with Guglielmo Marconi on his inventions, especially the radio, following which one of the Livorno Library sections was named The Bizzarrini Library.
Giotto Bizzarrini graduated as an engineer in the University of Pisa in 1953. He taught briefly before joining Alfa Romeo's 'Servizio Esperimenze Principali' unit under Ing. Nicolis in August 1954. He was assigned to the development of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta chassis.
He left Alfa Romeo in 1957 and went to Ferrari. He was quickly promoted to controller of experimental, Sports and GT car development.
He worked five years at Ferrari as chief engineer. He also worked as developer, designer and skilled test driver. The Ferrari 250 GT 2+2/GTE, the 3 litre Testa Rossa V12 engine, the Ferrari 250 TR or Testa Rossa and the Ferrari 250 GT SWB (Short Wheelsbase Berlinetta or Berlinetta Passo Corto) were influenced by his ideas and technical solutions. For one of the most successful Ferrari racing series, the Ferrari 250, Bizzarrini worked hard to develop the chassis, engines and advanced dynamic solutions.
Ferrari 250 GTO
His masterpiece at Ferrari was the 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO. He was first involved with the 250 GTO project in 1960. Ferrari wanted a GT racer with better aerodynamics than the previous 250 GT SWB. The SWB was a great racer but with poor wind penetration coefficient. Jaguar had just launched the Jaguar E-Type and Ferrari need a top contender in the tracks.
Tests started secretly with a Ferrari 250 GT unit, bodied by Mario Boano, with chassis number #2643GT, Mr. Bizzarrini's personal car. This car was developed and was used as a test mule for technical solutions later seen in the GTO. This car was known as the Bizzarrini Ugly Duck. Experiments with SWB showed a great loss power due poor aerodynamics. Then Bizzarrini developed a small front surface and longer bonnet to improve speed and reduce front lift tendency at high speeds. Bizzarrini also moved the engine well back into the chassis to improve weight distribution and handling. He also lowered the engine, using a dry sump lubrication system. The result was the Ferrari 250 GTO, one of the greatest sport cars ever.
In 1962, when the GTO was launched, it was the ultimate in aerodynamics. Carroll Shelby 289 AC Shelby Cobra cars had an advantage on slow tracks, but the GTO achieved a superior top speed and dominated the GT class.
Count Volpi, the specials and ATS
In 1961, he was one of the "famous five" engineers who left Ferrari. This is known as the "Ferrari night of the Long Knives" . It was caused because Ferrari wanted to reorganise the engineering staff. Bizzarrini left Ferrari and founded with the rest of ex-Ferrari engineers (Carlo Chiti, and others) ATS, Automobili Turismo e Sport company to build a Formula 1 single seater and a GT sport car, the A.T.S. Serenissima.
In 1962, Bizzarrini was hired by Count Giovanni Volpi, owner of the SSS, Scuderia Serenissima Republica di Venezia, to uprate a Ferrari 250 GT SWB to GTO Specification. Ferrari was upset with Volpi and refused to sell him a GTO.
Bizzarrini applied all the ideas from the GTO and developed with Piero Drogo of Carrozzeria Sports Cars in the Modena works an aerodynamically advanced body, even lower than the GTO, with the roof line dramatically extended to the rear end, then abruptly truncated following the Kamm aerodynamic theory. The car was completed in just 14 days. The mechanicals were vastly reformed, the engine fitted well set back in the chassis and lowered, using dry-sump lubrication. This car, chassis number #2819GT was called the Ferrari Breadvan, and is currently raced in vintage Sport Car events. The car was raced in period with some success, with Carlo Abate and other drivers at the wheel, but could not beat the works GTO's because of the lack of a five speed gearbox. At least another two 250GT series cars were developed by Bizzarrini, Piero Drogo, and team-mates Neri and Bonacini to GTO spec and received distinctive bodies with similar advanced shapes.
Also in 1962, Bizzarini founded Societa Autostar, an engineering firm through which he would bid for freelance engineering projects.
Ferruccio Lamborghini commissioned Societa Autostar to design an engine for his new GT cars. The engine was first shown in the Lamborghini 350GTV prototype and was first manufactured for use in the 350GT. Variations of the basic design have been used in every V-12 Lamborghini since. Originally displacing 3,464 cc (211 cu in) in the 350GT, it has since been increased in displacement to 6,496 cc (396 cu in) in the current Murciélago LP640.
Iso Rivolta and Bizzarini SpA
A dispute between Bizzarini and Iso Rivolta led to a end to their collaboration and to Societa Autostar building variants of the Iso Grifo under the Bizzarini marque. This led to Bizzarini changing the name of Societa Autostar first, in 1964, to Societa Prototipi Bizzarrini and then, in 1966, to Bizzarini SpA.
Bizzarini SpA also developed advanced designs for other companies, including American Motors for which they built prototypes for the AMX/3 project, and as style and technical consultant for GM in Europe and USA, top Japanese motorcycle marques and well-known designers such as Pininfarina.
Bizzarini SpA ceased production in 1969.
Bizzarrini is still busy with personal projects and conferences.
At the 2005 Geneva show, the new owner of the marque Bizzarrini showed the new GT Strada 4.1 concept. It's a two-door GT with a 4.1-litre 550 bhp (410 kW; 558 PS) plant (maximum speed - 360 km/h (220 mph), 0-100 km/h in 3.8 sec.) and was planned for production in 2007.
In 2008, Giotto Bizzarrini is teaching and collaborating with the Roma University, developing advanced projects and designing, building and developing his own sport cars. He often said: "I'm not a car designer, I am a worker".