In 1964, former Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, and Lamborghini engineer Giotto Bizzarrini started the Bizzarrini S.p.A., an Italian automobile manufacturer. Before closing its doors in 1969, the company produced approximately 200 high-performance coupes.
Bizzarrini designed the GT Europa on Opel 1900 underpinnings as a proposal for the German marque’s new sports cars in the mid-1960s, while operating his newly founded eponymous company. Bizzarrini developed the Europa from 1966 to 1969, and it was a tiny GT car. The car was originally powered by a 1481cc Fiat straight-4 engine, but with the addition of a 1900cc Opel engine, it was renamed the Europa. Only five of the perhaps 20 vehicles constructed used an Opel engine.
The beautiful coupe, which had a passing resemblance to the bigger 5300 GT, was designed to propel the manufacturer into mass production. Unfortunately, Opel turned down the idea in favor of an in-house project, forcing Giotto to build the automobile himself at his Livorno facility alongside his other vehicles. Also, financial difficulties – and eventually bankruptcy – stopped him from completing the assignment. Many people consider it to be the 1900 that Opel should have manufactured instead.
Bizzarrini’s Success Story That Ended Badly: Bizzarrini 1900 GT Europa
Giotto Bizzarrini began his automotive career as a graduate engineer with Alfa Romeo, where he worked from 1954 to 1957. He subsequently went on to work for Ferrari as a test driver, quickly rising through the ranks to become the company’s head engineer, responsible for vehicle development and design. He worked on vehicles such as the 250 TR, 250 GT SWB, and 250 GTO during his time in experimental, sports, and GT car development. In 1961, Giotto resigned from Ferrari and founded Società Autostar, an engineering firm.
The firm changed its name to Società Prototipi Bizzarrini after signing a contract with Iso to gain the rights to construct the Rivolta GT and the Grifo A3L and A3C models. The Bizzarrini 5300 GT, also known as the Strada and the America, was released in 1965 as the Iso Grifo A3C. The Bizzarrini 5300 GT was widely raced and, with a top speed of 160 mph, was one of the fastest vehicles on the LeMans Mulsanne Straight in 1964 and 1965. In both years of the LeMans 24 Hour, the street legal 5300 GT coupe won its class and finished ninth overall. Between 1965 and 1968, a total of 133 were produced.
In 1966, Bizzarrini introduced the 1900 GT Europa. This was a scaled-down version of the 5300 GT, which was noted for its superb handling. The goal was to make a less expensive version of the 5300 GT to appeal to a wider audience. Between 1966 and 1969, around twenty 1900 GT Europas were constructed. The Bizzarrini P538S single-seat barchetta race vehicle was introduced in 1965 and made its debut at LeMans the following year. The V8 P538S was forced to withdraw in 1966, earning the team a DNF, followed by a DNQ the following year. Despite its misfortunes, the model was one of the fastest on the Mulsanne Straight during its 1966 run.
Despite its founder’s immense engineering talent and knowledge, the company ran into financial difficulties and shuttered its doors in 1969. Giotto is still active in the industry, and it is believed that he worked on continuation P538S versions in the 1970s with Salvatore Diamanté, a former Bizzarrini engineer. He was also involved in the design of the BZ-2001, a one-of-a-kind supercar created in 1990. Giotto collaborated with experts from Rome’s La Sapienza University on the Kjara concept hybrid sports car in 1997. In 2000, the three-liter V6 variant was ultimately constructed and displayed at the Turin Motor Show.
A General Overview Of The Bizzarrini 1900 GT Europa
Bizzarrini quit Ferrari after the Palace Revolt in 1961 and went into business for himself in 1966, building the 5300 Strada and P538 sports racers. However, Bizzarrini also tried to create a more inexpensive sports vehicle, which resulted in the 1967 release of the 1900 GT Europa.
Unlike its older brother, the 1900 Europa, which was driven by a Chevrolet V8, the smaller Bizzarrini was powered by a powerful 1900-cc Opel engine that produced 110 horsepower and was situated between the front axle and the driver. The Europa was a formidable possibility, weighing little over 1400 pounds (due to its fiberglass body) and featuring independent suspension, a limited-slip differential, and four-wheel disc brakes. Only 12 are thought to have been built.
The automobile was sold to Giorgio Giordanengo after the plant closed, and it was originally equipped with an Alfa Romeo engine and five-speed gearbox before being replaced with a real Opel engine. Before selling the car to Paul Kawan of Belgium, Giordanengo kept it for 25 years. It is currently with a Belgian owner and is being offered for sale with a number of documents proving the car’s continuing care in recent years.
Bizzarrinis are extremely rare cars, and the 1900 GT Europa is even rarer. This Europa provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to own a stylish GT from one of the industry’s leading designers. While manufacturing estimates differ from source to source, it’s thought that just 15 to 20 Bizzarrini 1900 GT Europas were ever built.
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