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  Bizzarrini Manta

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Country of origin:Italy
Produced in:1968
Numbers built:One-Off
Introduced at:1968 Turin Motor Show
Designed by:Giorgietto Giugiaro for ItalDesign
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:August 08, 2012
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Click here to download printer friendly versionLaunched at the 1968 Turin Motor Show, the Bizzarrini Manta was the fruit of a collaboration between two Italian motoring greats at opposite phases of their respective careers. Designer Giorgietto Giugiaro had just established his own company, ItalDesign, for which the Manta was the very first design. On the other hand the P538, on which the show car was based, represented the end of the line for Giotto Bizzarrini as an independent manufacturer. Judging from the result, the two men timed their collaboration just right.

Following spells at Fiat, Bertone and Ghia, the still very young Giugiaro felt it was time to set up his design studio in 1967. Thanks to the quality of his previous designs, he had few problems securing funding. All he needed was a spectacular project that would ensure the launch of his new company would not go unnoticed. In the workshop of the ailing Bizzarrini company, he found the suitable basis for his new show car. This was the mid-engined P538, which had previously been raced at Le Mans but now lingered in a corner waiting for a new purpose.

Conceived late in 1965, the P538 was the first clean-sheet design from Giotto Bizzarrini for his own company. Built for an American customer, the first two examples were fitted with Lamborghini's V12 engine; another Bizzarrini design. Intended for competition, the third chassis was equipped with the small-block Chevrolet V8 that was also used in the marque's front-engined cars. With very few test kilometres under its belt, the car was entered in the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans where it retired after a waterline burst during it pit stop. It was raced once more in October of 1966 and then set aside.

Taking advantage of the cutting-edge chassis, Giugiaro abandoned the traditional 'three-box' design, which had easily identifiable nose, cockpit and tail sections. Instead, the profile of the Manta consisted of a single line that ran from the tip of the nose to the cut-off tale. This was only because of the mid-mounted engine, which allowed for the very low required by this approach. A focal point was the windshield that had a rake of just 15°. Glass was also extensively used aft of the cockpit, showing off the engine and also aiding visibility.

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  Article Image gallery (25) Specifications