Giotto Bizzarrini, Father Of The Lamborghini V12 And Ferrari 250 GTO, Has Died Aged 96

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Bizzarrini was an engineering genius whose talents touched an array of Italian brands.

Giotto Bizzarrini, the legend behind the legendary Lamborghini V12 and the Ferrari 250 GTO, has died. He was 96 years old.

Bizzarrini (the design company) took to Instagram to announce the news, with a simple tribute to the man behind the supercar brand. Born on June 6, 1926, Bizzarrini went on to graduate from the University of Pisa in 1953. For the next two decades, he would work as an engineer in the Italian automotive industry, starting at Alfa Romeo.

He joined the Milanese brand in 1953 as a test driver and quickly became instrumental in identifying and rectifying issues. Just four years later, Bizzarrini moved to Ferrari, where he worked on several important models. As chief engineer for the Prancing Horse, the engineering genius sprinkled his influence and ideas over the 250 TR Testa Rossa, 250GT SWB, and even the racing models.


Of course, his piece de resistance was the iconic 250 GTO. Enzo Ferrari wanted a serious race car that would best rivals from across the globe, and Bizzarrini was entrusted to make sure Maranello wouldn't be humiliated on the racetrack again.

The engineer began development on the GTO with a test mule that was reportedly known as the Bizzarrini Ugly Duck. The SWB chassis wasn't ideal, with aerodynamic drag causing a loss of speed. Bizzarrini cleverly increased the bonnet length while simultaneously reducing the size of the frontal area to reduce front lift and drag at high speed. The 250 GTO's weight distribution was also improved thanks to Bizzarrini's forward-thinking design. The engine was moved back, lowered, and a dry sump lubrication system was adopted.

Sadly, his time at Ferrari was cut short; he and five other engineers left the company over organizational issues.


Bizzarrini would then go on to work as an independent engineer and lent his expertise to several important projects. In 1962, he would go on to establish Societa Autostar, where he assisted Italian automaker Iso with the development of the Rivolta and Grifo. A dispute between these two entities ended the partnership.

His engineering mastery stretched across the Italian automotive industry and Bizzarrini even designed the iconic Lamborghini V12. Through Societa Autostar, the 3.5-liter V12 (first seen in the 350GT) was born and went on to power several Lambos, including the Countach, Diablo, and even the Murcielago SV. The engine was then retired, with the Aventador and all-new Revuelto utilizing new 12-cylinder engines.

In 1966, Societa Autostar went through a name change and was rebranded as Bizzarrini SpA. Between 1965 and 1968, the niche automaker would go on to produce the gorgeous 5300 GT Strada, a Giugiaro-designed beauty powered by a 5.4-liter Chevrolet-sourced V8 with as much as 400 horsepower.


Bizzarrini SpA closed its doors for good in 1969, after the company declared bankruptcy. That was the end of Giotto's car-making exploits, but the engineer would later go on to consult for other automakers and even teach at Rome University.

While his death is a tragic loss for the automotive industry, Giotto Bizzarrini's legacy will live on in the reborn Bizzarrini brand. Earlier this year, the brand revealed its first supercar for the modern era, aptly named the Giotto. Unlike the latest batch of hypercars, the company has rejected the idea of an electric drivetrain and has opted for a V12 - another nod to the late Bizzarrini.

With an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission and gorgeous styling, the Giotto should be a truly special motorcar. Testing will only commence in 2024, so it will be some time before we see these on the road.


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