Farewell to engineer Bizzarrini, the “Giotto” of Ferrari and Lamborghini

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Farewell to the engineer, designer and entrepreneur Giotto Bizzarrini, one of the excellences of the Italian automotive industry, who contributed to making Ferrari vehicles iconic (he created the famous GTO and worked on the equally famous Testa Rossa) and Lamborghini, after having contributed to make Alfa Romeo grow and to give life to a factory that bore his name which produced some of the most beautiful and powerful Italian grand tourers. The “Giotto of the automobile”, as he was nicknamed, died on Saturday 13 May at the age of 96 in Rosignano (Livorno). The funeral will be held on Monday 15 May, at 11, in the Livorno church of Quercianella.

Born in Livorno on 6 June 1926, Bizzarini – one of the two “Tuscans” of national automotive engineering (the other is Carlo Chiti) – studied Engineering at the University of Pisa and the topic of his 1953 degree thesis immediately puts his aptitude for designing in the automotive field was on display: a study of a sports car derived from the Fiat 500 Topolino with an air-cooled 750 cubic cm engine; car later built and always present among the competitors in the historic Mille Miglia. Immediately after graduating in mechanical engineering, he taught at the University of Pisa, but his interest in cars was too strong and he abandoned teaching to move to Oto Melara in the engine test room. In 1954 at Alfa Romeo, a forge of internationally renowned engineers. Unlike his other colleagues, Giotto was also a good test pilot, one of the few engineers able to personally evaluate the effects of his innovations. Strengthened by his experience in Alfa Romeo, in 1957 he moved to Ferrari: here he worked on the development of the V12, the four-cylinder 2000 cubic cm of the Testa Rossa, the 1000 cubic cm (which would later be mounted on the Asa 1000), and the 6 2.5 liter F1 cylinders. In 1958 he was head of the Experience Department and under his direction masterpieces such as the Spider California, the 250 GT SWB (stands for Short Wheelbase) and the legendary 250 GTO were born.

In September 1961 he was among the “rebels” who attempted to oust Enzo Ferrari from control of the company. The abandonment of the House of Maranello will also mark the beginning of a series of economic and corporate misadventures that will force him to lead an increasingly uphill life. With the defectors Ferrari in 1961 participates in the constitution of the Ats, but will soon come out. In 1962 he founded Autostar in Livorno, a company for the design of cars and engines, where he conceives the 12-cylinder 3500 cm³, then sold to Lamborghini (which, after various modifications, will mount it on the Countach). For Lamborghini he also created the engine of the famous Lamborghini 350 GTV. In the meantime he collaborated with the Milanese industrialist Rivolta, owner of Iso, for the design of a GT with a Chevrolet V8 engine. The Iso Grifo A3 L, a two-seater coupé, and the Iso Grifo A3 C, a racing version which in 1964 won first place at the 24 Hours of Le Mans were born. In February 1964 Prototipi Bizzarrini was born, based in Livorno. He also breaks with Rivolta and the Iso Grifo cars will become Bizzarrini GT Stradas. The GT Spider 5300 and 538 Sport models will follow. In 1966 Bizzarrini Spa was established, which produced the new GT Europa model, a two-seater coupé with fiberglass bodywork and a 1900 cubic cm four-cylinder engine. The adventure of the new company also ended with this car. Bizzarrini then fully designed and built the legendary Bizzarrini 5300 GT Strada, featured in the film “Bullit” with Steve McQueen, a symbolic car of the Sixties. From 1969 to 1972 he collaborated with BMW on the experimental car AMX / 3. He returned to teaching at the University of Florence, a position he held until 1982, and moved his business to the Mugello circuit where, with his son Pietro and his wife Rosanna, he continued to design racing cars. Forced by the new ownership to abandon the Autodrome, he returns to the Livorno hills.

Bizzarrini later worked as a consultant for automotive companies, collaborating in the design of some prototypes such as the BZ 2001 (spider on Ferrari mechanics), but for various reasons the project did not take off. In 2012 he was awarded an honorary degree in Design at the University of Florence. In autumn 2022 Livorno celebrated his genius with a three-day event dedicated to him inside the Hangar Creativi. Mayor Luca Salvetti, on behalf of the municipal administration and the city of Livorno, expressed condolences for the passing of Giotto Bizzarrini, «engineer, designer and entrepreneur in the automotive sector known throughout the world». «He was truly an excellence from Livorno – declared the mayor – Last autumn Livorno celebrated his genius with a three-day event dedicated to him inside the Hangar Creativi. A few months earlier Bizzarrini had been awarded the gold medal of Livorno talents by the Councilor for Culture Simone Lenzi and by the Livorno al Centro association. It was truly a Livorno native who brought prestige to the city of him, he continues, with his creations he brought the name of Livorno to the world. In fact, he created famous motoring legends, including the Ferrari 250 GTO, the Lamborghini V12 engine and the 5300 Gran Turismo cars that bear his name, built in series right in the Livorno factory. The whole city embraces his family.’

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