Many GM fans are no doubt familiar with the Iso Grifo, the sporty two-seat Italian coupe with a Chevrolet heart (among others) released in 1963. Yet somehow its not-too-distant cousin, the 1966 Bizzarrini GT Strada 5300, pictured above, struggles to gain recognition. And that’s a damned shame.
The basic Iso Grifo was the A3/L street model and Giotto Bizzarrini, who worked at Iso SpA in Milan at the time, soon developed a competition version known as the A3/C, with a radically modified body designed and built by Piero Drogo. Drogo’s new design allowed the engine to move back in the body some 16-inches, creating a “front-mid-engined” configuration which vastly improved weight distribution.
Bizzarrini worked diligently to promote the A3/c, which didn’t exactly please his boss, Renzo Rivolta. This falling out caused Bizzarrini to leave Iso and form his own company called Prototipi Bizzarrini SpA, in 1965. Up until that point, just 22 A3/C’s had been built.
There, at his new company, Bizarrini released a street version of the Iso Grifo A3/C called–you guessed it– the Bizzarrini GT Strada 5300. Standing just 43-inches high, the front-mid-engined supercar featured a 350 hp 5.3L OHV V8 with a single four-barrel carb, four-speed manual transmission, coil springs, de Dion rear axle, and four wheel disc brakes. A supercar in its own right, surely.
However, this particular early example GT Strada, chassis number 0248, experienced a few changes during its lifetime. The original engine was replaced with a 350 hp 327ci Chevrolet V8, with a steel crankshaft, from an Iso Grifo, which was scrapped in 1968. The original manifold and Holley carb were also swapped for a 600 CFM Edelbrock unit for more “spirited driving” on the autobahn.
It even features larger, metric-sized tires: 205/70/R15’s up front with 215/70/R15’s out back.
Just 133 Bizzarrini Strada 5300’s were made before the vehicle was scaled down as the 1900 GT Europa, and the RM Sotheby’s list price range reflects its rarity and value. Price range? £495,000 ($774,000) to £700,000 ($1.09-million). Not cheap, then.
The Bizarrini GT Strada might not be as well known as the Grifo among GM faithful, but it definitely deserves wider recognition among enthusiasts of all stripes and types.