1976 Bizzarrini P538
£849,990 | Location: United Kingdom
The ‘Bizzarrini’ name has remained synonymous within the historic automobile and contemporary racing world to this very day, achieving some notable accomplishments with Italian sports car manufacturers in the 50’s and 60’s before building cars under his own name shortly after. The start of his career began with Alfa Romeo as a test driver where he aided the development of the Giulietta’s chassis before joining Ferrari, where he assisted with the development of the renowned Testa Rossa and later the formidable 250 GTO.
Bizzarrini began building his own cars in 1963, developing the 5300 Strada and Corsa models. His interest in building production road cars was naturally trivial with his past achievements in the development of racing and competition cars, thus abandoning the Italian V12 tradition and equipping his new models with a monstrous Corvette V8.
In 1966, Bizzarrini entered an all new racing spider into the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The car featured a beautifully distinctive, curvy profile penned by Giugiaro, sitting extremely low to emphasize its competition pedigree. In the rear of the car is a 5.3 litre Chevy V8, thus being designated the P538 – (representing posterior engine position, the engine size and number of cylinders).
Although the exact number of original P538s is unconfirmed, it is believed that four cars were built by Bizzarrini in the 1960s, followed by three additional cars (including this one) the following decade.
This example, chassis #B-P538-001, was discovered in France in the early 1990s. Purchased by a Mr Roger Hurst, of Kent, who subsequently re-sold it in 1995 to its next keeper, one of the original founders of the Chequered Flag International. Seeing the potential and rarity of the P538, the gentleman decided to keep the car for nearly 20 years.
In 2009 the owner wanted to clarify the car’s early history, conferring with Bizzarrini expert Jack Koobs de Hartog to assess the P538, which was soon to undergo restoration. Carefully inspecting the frame and build technique, the marque specialist concluded that the car exhibited the welding, materials, and overall construction used on the later cars built by Bizzarrini himself. Mr. Koobs took several photographs of the unrestored chassis, body, and parts and presented them to Mr. Bizzarrini for his opinion. Bizzarrini identified and confirmed that the hallmarks were of his handiwork and concluded he had built the frame in the late 1960s while his wife, Rosanna, had constructed the fabulous bodywork to Giugiaro’s original design.
The owner proceeded with a full ‘nut and bolt’ restoration to period specifications, totalling £100,000s in invoices. This work included sourcing a period-correct 5.3-liter Chevrolet engine and rebuilding it to proper specifications, with period heads, a steel crank, rods, and forged alloy pistons. Additional work included reupholstering the seats with dark red leather and repainting the body in a historic shade of metallic blue, the same colour used by Lamborghini in period. “Azzuro 402”, used by Bizzarrini in period for the 2nd P538.
Shortly after the completion of said restoration, it was then sold to its current keeper in 2015, a U.K. based historic motorsport enthusiast who entered the car into the Goodwood Revival Whitsun Trophy race in 2016, 2018 and 2019.
This P538 benefits from an extensive list of recently carried out works via IN Racing LTD with no expense spared (fully documented with numerous invoices), followed by some comprehensive scrutineering to ensure the car was ready for both road and track use.
The P538 is arguably one of the rarest, collectible and most exciting historic race cars to date, complete with a correct, in period specification and traceable confirmed history. Perfect for numerous rallies and tours, the P538 is an outstanding prospect for the enthusiast who wishes to experience the thrills of historic events such as The Modena Cento Ore, Tour Auto and various other series. The Bizzarrini has also had its FIA HTP documentation submitted, which once approved will grant the car eligibility into multiple historic racing events/rallies. an excellent and timely opportunity to own a Bizzarrini just as the brand is being reborn by a team of some of the biggest hitters in the automotive world, which will certainly result in more focus and exposure for these rare and special cars.