GALLERY: Behind The Scenes On Our 1965 Bizzarrini A3/C Film Shoot
As with every car featured in a Petrolicious film, this week’s low-slung slash of red has a story to tell. It’s one that includes a who’s who of iconic 1960s Italian manufacturers, engineers, and designers, but there’s an international element as well; in 1965, this car, Bizzarrini A3/C No. 0222, won the 5000cc and over class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans with Chevrolet V8 power. Now, some 50-odd years later, we sit down with our friend and notable collector (though he won’t call himself as such) Bruce Meyer, the owner of this remarkable machine, to revisit its history and enjoy it in motion at the Thermal Club in Palm Desert, California.
Having previously worked for both Alfa Romeo and Ferrari (where he would become a chief engineer and the head of experimental sports car development), it’s fair to say Giotto Bizzarrini paid his dues before his name started appearing on the cars he built. After being ousted from Ferrari along with other integral members of the company following management conflicts (basically, these guys didn’t like Enzo’s wife’s involvement with the company, and gave Enzo an “us or her” ultimatum), Bizzarrini set up shop consulting, and then partnered with Renzo Rivolta in 1963 to produce the Iso Grifo A3/L, a GT road car engineered by Bizzarrini and drawn by Giugiaro to be aimed at the likes of Ferrari.
His interests and focus shifted increasingly toward motorsport though, and with it, the A3/C (“C” for “Competition”) came into the world. The cars would be powered by Chevy 327 small blocks, and this rabid torque paired with the streamlined litheness of the body made for a formidable piece of kit. Though the A3/Cs were never consistently competitive, they would prove their potency in 1965, when French drivers Régis Fraissinet and Jean de Mortemart took the car to an impressive 9th overall at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and first in its class.
What is the car up to these days? Bruce sums it: “When you own something that should be shared, it’s a pleasure to share it.” It’s a simple statement, but a significant one. Cars with Le Mans provenance tend to be socked away save for a few yearly appearances, and to many, the name Bizzarrini is just another piece of automotive arcana, so an attitude like Bruce’s is paramount to keeping these lesser-known legacies alive. Seeing the car in pristine restoration condition with arid desert and a few palms in the background is a drastic juxtaposition to its bug-and-rock-pocked body barreling down Mulsanne 52 years ago, but its ability to inspire and give joy has endured, and thankfully it’s in the hands of somebody who wants to share. That’s Driving Tastefully®.