1971 Bizzarrini 128P Barchetta
Coachwork by Bizzarrini
Chassis no. 128P 01
•One of two prototypes built
•Reborn in the 1990s at the Bizzarrini works
•Featured in numerous press articles
•First time offered publicly in Europe
At the famed International concours at Amelia Island in 2017 a characteristically different Italian prototype was awarded with the Camille Jenatzy prize for the 'Most Audacious Exterior'. Looking more like a car extracted from a 1970s TV space cartoon series than a real working sports prototype, this car could only have come from the pen of Giotto Bizzarrini and is one of a brace that he built. To see the other today one must travel to the famed Museum in Turin, however this, the sole example out of institutional 'captivity' could be yours today and it is offered without reserve.
Bizzarrini's heritage is a fascinating one, for much of his career he was someone who influenced the success of major brands such as Alfa Romeo and Ferrari, where he is credited with the iconic GTO. That all changed in 1962 when he decided to go freelance. First, he worked for Lamborghini and then assisted in the rival of the Iso brand, it was the latter move that would finally lead to cars which wore his own name and which resonate around the world as wild, fast and individual machines. In all just 139 of his 'production' A3C and Strada cars were built until the factory stopped building them in 1969.
Bizzarrini returned to consulting work and also to training other engineers at the University of Pisa, his next projects were more outlandish, this is one of those. The 128P was built by Bizzarrini late in 1971 and was first seen at the Turin Motor Show in 1972.
From research made by the seller, he can report that from conversations with authority Jack Koobs de Hartog, this striking avant garde machine came straight from Giotto's pen and was built by him. As mentioned above, it was one of two such prototypes, its survival, is the most extraordinary tale.
Designated as the 128P, these cars were built on tubular space frames of a squat 87 inch wheelbase and clothed in the most outlandish wedge shaped bodies yet to come from Giotto's mind. They were to be powered by a transverse mounted FIAT 1300cc inline four-cylinder engine fed by a pair of side-draft Weber carburetors.... That giant killing powerplant put out some 130bhp in this rally spec form and was mated to a Colotti T46B VW-derived transaxle which was geared to be able to propel this land missile to 140mph and had Bizzarrini's trade mark independent suspension ensuring that it had incredible handling too. That very car was entered in the 1973 Targa Florio, but an accident put Bizzarrini and his partner Massimo Larini out of the running, today it lives in the Museo Nazional dell'Automobile in Turin.
This is actually a left-hand drive version of what would become the right-hand drive competition variant, and that it had the most extraordinary life. Having served its testing apprenticeship, the barchetta body was removed and a new Europa coupe was put on this chassis, with it again being displayed at the next year's Turin show.
As charted in Auto Italia magazine, the car certainly had potential, but it would disappear after the show. The barchetta body was discarded by Bizzarrini and would lay dorment outside the factory until it was resuscitated by the Bizzarrinis in the 1990s. As recounted in an extensive article in Ruoteclassiche in 1993, at this point the body was extracted from behind the Bizzarrini works and placed on back on its original flat-pan chassis, towards the end of the article and as the car neared completion, a photo shows a happy Giotto seated in the 128P. The tale of its rebirth is certainly a fascinating read, but one that the motoring fraternity can only be grateful was achieved, as the visual evidence of this amazing machine is testament to.
Bizzarrini would sell the car on its completion, effectively the first time that it left the works! It is reported to have emigrated into Japanese ownership at this point from which it only returned in the last decade. The current owner acquired the car in 2013 in America, since when a necessary sorting was undertaken out to put the car on the road. This outlandish prototype has since been used occasionally and shown at events such as the aforementioned Amelia Island Concours.
In recent months prior to its sale it has been titled for the road in America, which may assist future road use in European countries. One of two and certainly the only one that will ever be on the market, it is an interesting snapshot in the Bizzarrini story and deserving of attention.
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