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BZ-2001
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  Bizzarrini BZ-2001
 

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Country of origin:Italy
Produced in:1993
Numbers built:1
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:January 29, 2018
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Click here to download printer friendly versionWhen American collector Barry Watkins was introduced to one of the rare Bizzarrini 5300 GT Spider's and its value at the 1989 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, he recognised potential of a new Bizzarrini supercar as a future collectible. Through mutual friends, he came into contact with Giotto Bizzarrini, who was keen to collaborate. Watkins travelled to Italy with preliminary drawings, which the legendary engineer liked and he allowed Watkins to use the Designo di Bizzarrini name.

While the plan was to build the production version of the new BZ-2001, around a bespoke chassis, Watkins hit the ground running by basing the first prototype on an existing car. As a base, he used a Ferrari Testarossa that had been damaged in an accident. To help him with the construction of the prototype, Watkins hired specialist Luis Romo after a chance meeting just a mile from his house. Romo started working out of Watkins' California race shop, building 1/5th scale model and the full size car in clay using instructions sent by Bizzarrini.

Once Watkins and Romo finalised the design, carbon-fibre composite panels were constructed to complete the prototype. The lines chosen were modern but included subtle cues reminiscent of earlier Bizzarrinis like the nostrils on the nose. The car featured prominent intakes in the flanks to feed the laterally mounted radiators, and an integrated rear wing. Clearly designed for California weather, the BZ-2001 was purely a roadster. The Ferrari underpinnings were virtually unchanged with the exception of an additional subframe on top of the engine to increase rigidity.

Production of the prototype had started in the second half of 1992 but received new urgency in November of 1992 when Brian Jackson showed interest in the car and urged Watkins to complete in time for the Barrett Jackson Scottsdale auction of January 1993. Romo and Watkins managed to get the car done just in time and it was understandably the star in the main auction display tent. In the next few months, the prototype was further completed to full running order. During this period, it received much coverage both in national and international publications.

In April of 1993, Bizzzarrini himself came to the United States for the BZ-2001's official launch at the Long Beach Grand Prix. The prototype was subsequently shown at Concorso Italiano and the San Diego Auto Show. In 1994, Bizzarrini was back at Watkins' shop to help design a brand new spaceframe chassis for the production version. This was to be powered by a purpose built, seven-litre, four-cam V8 engine. Unfortunately, Watkins' funds ran out before the car could be completed and attempts to find other backers were unsuccessful.

As a result, the Bizzarrini BZ-2001, despite receiving universal acclaim, remained strictly a one-off and one of the 1990s great what-ifs.

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  Article Image gallery (13) 75001 Specifications User Comments (2)