The Only Bizzarrini Monoposto Prototype “F1 Car” Ever Built

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This is the only example of the 1965 Bizzarrini Monoposto prototype that was ever built, it’s a single-seat, open-wheeled racing car powered by a highly-modified Corvette 327 V8 producing over 420 bhp.

Though it likely wasn’t intended to compete in Formula 1, company founder Giotto Bizzarrini put the word out that he was considering an F1 entry with the car, and he received some valuable free publicity via an article in Road & Track Magazine (August 1966 issue) about a “classified” Monoposto.

Fast Facts – The Bizzarrini Monoposto Prototype

  • The 1965 Bizzarrini Monoposto prototype was built for French businessman and gentleman racer Regis Fraissinet, it has a tubular steel chassis, a fiberglass body, and a rear-mounted 327 cubic inch Corvette V8.
  • “Monoposto” is Italian for “single seat,” it’s a term used to describe open-wheeled formula cars and other vehicles that typically can accommodate only one person at a time.
  • Bizzarrini was an Italian sports and racing car manufacturer founded by former Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, and Iso engineer Giotto Bizzarrini – best known as the creator of the Ferrari 250 GTO.
  • When Fraissinet first drove this car it scared him so much he decided he didn’t want it. Giotto Bizzarrini won some free press in Road & Track Magazine by leaking that he was considering an F1 entry with the car.

Giotto Bizzarrini

Giotto Bizzarrini graduated as an engineer from the University of Pisa in 1953, he was soon working for Alfa Romeo and remained with the Italian company until 1957, when he was headhunted by Ferrari.

Image DescriptionGiotto Bizzarrini standing with a Bizzarrini 5300 GT, believed to have been taken in 1965. Image courtesy of Bizzarrini.

His natural engineering ability shone through, and Bizzarrini was soon the head of experimental, sports, and GT car engineering.

It was at this time that he developed his most famous creation, the Ferrari 250 GTO, though he also worked on the development of a number of other historically signifiant cars, including the Ferrari 250 TR and the Ferrari 250 GT SWB.

After leaving Ferrari, Bizzarrini was promptly approached by Ferruccio Lamborghini, who contracted him to build an advanced new V12 engine for a line of GT cars that would go on to become key rivals for Ferrari.

Bizzarrini was also hired by Renzo Rivolta of Italian automaker Iso to do the engineering work on a line of new V8-powered GT cars. It would prove to be a fruitful partnership however Bizzarrini wanted to build race cars and Rivolta wanted to build luxury GT cars – eventually Bizzarrini left in 1964 to launch his own marque and build his own cars.

The most famous car to come from the Bizzarrini factory in Livorno, Italy was the Bizzarrini GT 5300, a car closely based on the Iso Grifo A3C he had developed while working for Rivolta.

The car proved successful on the track but perhaps suffered from a lack of funds required to develop it into a true Le Mans winner.

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Image DescriptionWith a weight of just 1,300 lbs (590 kgs) and 420+ bhp on tap, this car is so fast it apparently scared its first owner into giving it up on the spot.

In 2020 it was announced that the Bizzarrini marque was being brought back and a limited production run of the Bizzarrini 5300 GT would be produced.

The Gentleman Driver And The Magazine

In 1965 French gentleman racer Regis Fraissinet approached Bizzarrini and contracted the company to design and built a new single seat, open wheeled racing car for him powered by the venerable 327 Corvette V8.

It’s not known exactly what Fraissinet intended to use the car for. Formula 1 entry is unlikely, but the car would have been ideally positioned for use in Europe’s hotly contested hillclimbing championships.

Bizzarrini and his team designed the car following the best principles of the day, it has a tubular steel spaceframe chassis, a lightweight fiberglass body, and the engine is mounted in the rear.

Giotto Bizzarrini had a well-known love for the Corvette V8, it’s the engine he used in many of his road and race cars as well – quite the vote of confidence from the man who designed the legendary Lamborghini V12.

1965 Bizzarrini Monoposto Prototype F1 Car 13

Image DescriptionAs you would expect with a single seater of this vintage, the cockpit it small and spartan, with a steering wheel, three pedals, a right-side shifter, and only essential instrumentation.

The Corvette engine intended for this car was sent to Bizzarrini’s old alma matter, the University of Pisa, where experiments were done on it in the engineering department, eventually getting the horsepower figure from 375 bhp up to over 420 bhp thanks to a slew of changes including four Weber carburetors and “double-hump” cylinder heads.

The engine was fitted to the car and mated to a ZF gearbox, once complete the word was sent and Fraissinet came to test the car.

According to Bizzarrini this is what happened next:

“It was like a dragster, it was so quick! We took it to the small circuit near Livorno, where Mr Fraissinet tried a test drive the car. He pressed the throttle and accellerated for a while and suddenly stopped. He got out of the car because he was afraid he couldn’t drive it more.”

Not wanting to leave Fraissinet out of pocket he gave him some shares in his company. He allegedly then put the word out he was considering a Formula 1 entry using the completed Monoposto prototype as bait.

His apparent ruse was rewarded with an article in Road & Track Magazine in August 1966, reporting on the “classified” Bizzarrini F1 prototype.

1965 Bizzarrini Monoposto Prototype F1 Car 1

Image DescriptionThe modified 327 cubic inch Corvette V8 in the back has resulted in this car becoming a minor celebrity, thanks to the fact that it’s been on display at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky for a number of years.

For Sale: The 1965 Bizzarrini Monoposto Prototype

Apparently Bizzarrini kept this car for years, well into the 1970s. It was eventually sold and imported into the United States in the 1980s and then refurbished, with work completing in 2008.

It was then shown to much interest at the 2013 Concorso Italiano in Monterey, California and it is currently on loan to the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky. A car of this type with a rear-mounted Corvette V8 has been impressing museum goers for years now.

The car is now for sale on Bring A Trailer, and it’ll be up to the new owner if they want to leave the car on display in the museum or bring it home and park it in their garage.

If you’d like to read more about it or register to bid you can click here to visit the listing.

Editor’s Note: I royally screwed up the schedule with this article, it got buried and we missed the auction end date by quite a margin! It sold for $115,000 USD and you can read more about it via that link above.

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Images courtesy of Bring A Trailer

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