Iso Grifo A3C – Bizzarrini 5300 GT @ Le Mans

Ferrari 250 TR, GTO, Breadvan are all prodigal babies of Giotto Bizzarrini, the mythical car engineer. He worked for Ferrari from 1957 as a developer,...

Ferrari 250 TR, GTO, Breadvan are all prodigal babies of Giotto Bizzarrini, the mythical car engineer. He worked for Ferrari from 1957 as a developer, designer, skilled test driver, and chief engineer for five years. He developed the Ferrari 250 TR (Testarossa), Ferrari 250 GT SWB (Short Wheelbase Berlinetta or Berlinetta Passo Corto), and 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO. The best cars of its times… He was then eventually fired and joined Automobili Turismo e Sport (ATS), a company started by the ex-Ferrari engineers. At ATS he worked on upgrading chassis #2819 GT, a Ferrari 250 GT SWB, to GTO specifications for Count Giovanni Volpi. This resulted in the Ferrari 250 GT SWB Drogo also known as the “Breadvan” or “camionette” in french. Not a cute car indeed, but it may have become even more famous than GTO : it was 7 km/h faster than GTO at Le Hunaudières straight at Le Mans, but a broken driveshaft meant the end of the race…

Iso Grifo A3L (Lusso) or Bizzarrini 5300 GT Strada : the street legal version

Bizzarrini started a cooperation with Giorgetto Giugiaro – a Bertone designer in that time – that resulted in the Iso Grifo A3L (L for Lusso) unveiled in 1963. It was based on a shortened Iso Rivolta GT chassis with an extremely low and wide handmade bodywork styling. Here is one featuring the camping of Le Mans, were plenty of classic car clubs put cars in their context, here it was with a Solex and a VW Combi.

Road legal

It was one of the fastest production car of its time with a top speed of 160 mph (260 km/h). Later Iso Grifo 7 Litri units were powered by a big block Chevrolet Corvette 350 bhp engine.

Iso Grifo A3C or Bizzarrini 5300 GT Corsa : the competition version

Bizzarrini derived and built 29 competition versions named Iso Grifo A3C, C for Competizione or Corsa. A new lightweight riveted aluminium body was designed and built by Piero Drogo and the 400 bhp engine was moved further back in the chassis into the driver’s cabin. This is a must for the car enthusiats since aluminium body are costly to repair if damaged but otherwise suffer less from corrosion. The american V8 engine is also easy to repair at a much lower cost than italian equivalent V12 engines of this time. Anyway, the car was targeting endurance races and entered the 1964 and 1965 Le Mans 24 hour, 1965 Nürburgring 1000 and 1965 Sebring. It achieved a Le Mans class win in both years and a 9th overall in 1965 with no factory support. A3Cs were one of the fastest cars on Le Mans’ straight line in both years, as 250 Breadvan earlier…
Thanks to Le Mans Classic, these rare cars are back on track, enjoy this footage I made in the 2010 edition.

The last bizarre mystery of the Bizzarrini’s

Now there is still something I cannot explain: Why are these race versions featured in Le Mans Classic getting the “Strada” sign on their back pillar although they are obviously “Corsa” versions? Does anybody reading this have any clue on that?