To mark the 90th birthday of Giotto Bizzarini, and celebrate his lifetime of incredible contributions to the automotive community, Italian brand Bulgari sponsored a special class at the 2016 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance auto event dedicated to the gorgeous vehicles which bear the master craftsman’s name. Why would a luxury jewelry and watch maker get involved with bringing obscure Italian automobiles to one of the most legendary automotive gatherings in existence? The connection between the two is actually quite natural.

2016-pebble-beach-1 2016-pebble-beach-2 Bulgari-blue-bulgari-bulgari-octo-4

Both are fiercely Italian in design and execution, but Bulgari remains active, of course, while Bizzarini was around for but a few years. Bulgari’s commitment to preserving Italian heritage both in jewelry and in cars is apparent in their current partnership with the Concours, though it’s worth noting that members of the Bulgari family have long been tied to the automotive community. From Gianni Bulgari racing his Ferrari 250 GTO back in the early ’60s, to Nicola Bulgari’s current collection of nearly 200 cars in Allentown, PA, that interestingly includes a number of classic Buicks that have been restored to concours condition, the connection goes deeper than the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance sponsorship.

Advertising Message

2016-pebble-beach-4 2016-pebble-beach-5 2016-pebble-beach-6 Bulgari-Octo-Velocissimo-Ultranero-watch-8

Nicola’s appreciation for classic American cars surprised me at first, but when I thought further about the vibe of Bulgari products, it actually makes quite a bit of sense. Classic American luxury was all about overindulgence, especially the baroque land yachts of the 1970s, and that spirit jives rather well with Bulgari.

2016-pebble-beach-60 Bulgari-Octo-Finissimo-102371-BGOP40BGLXT-aBlogtoWatch-17

Bulgari may not be inextricably linked to the automotive community in terms of design, but there are certainly many threads linking the two if you consider the worlds of each. After-all, the first thing I think of when Bulgari is mentioned is gold. Gold watches, gold bracelets, gold necklaces, gold rings. Closing my eyes and picturing myself wearing an Octo, I’m not stepping out of a Ferrari or Alfa Romeo, but rather a Cadillac Coupe DeVille, or Buick Riviera. Bulgari’s connection to the world of cars isn’t about being an
enthusiast, it’s about having an appreciation for the finer things in life, whether that’s a vintage car or a Serpenti necklace.

2016-pebble-beach-26 2016-pebble-beach-8 2016-pebble-beach-58 2016-pebble-beach-57

With that in mind, I wondered how many fans of Bulgari were also fans of an obscure brand like Bizzarini. Positioned in their own zone at the far end of the iconic 18th fairway at Pebble Beach, the unmistakably Italian machines caught my attention from a distance and were more than worth the trek past a smattering of vintage BMW motorcycles. Thirteen Bizzarinis graced the grass of Pebble Beach, and my favorite was not only a standout in the class, but at the show overall. The Italdesign Manta Concept, was designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro, and its wedgy, space-pod body covered in mint green paint is 1960s futuristic design at its very, very best.

Advertising Message

2016-pebble-beach-30 2016-pebble-beach-31 2016-pebble-beach-47

I really felt that the Bizzarinis were quite special because they sent a surge of energy though me when I got to them. You see, I’d gotten up at an ungodly hour for “Dawn Patrol” to watch the precession of rare vintage automobiles roll out onto the grass, and this was four days into the madness that is Monterey Car Week. For some, it is merely a formality, what they really want is their caffeine, sugar, and a complimentary commemorative baseball cap.

2016-pebble-beach-45 2016-pebble-beach-44 2016-pebble-beach-55

It may not need to be said, but do not ever underestimate the allure of free coffee and donuts, not to mention bragging rights. For me, there’s nothing quite like watching an array of the rarest automobiles in the world motor down a cart path, mist swirling past their headlights, exhausts belching, engines clattering. Ok, bragging rights, coffee, and donuts don’t hurt either. I found a quiet spot away from the crowd that had materialized near where the cars entered, and waited for beautiful hardware to pass by. The cars came in little clumps, spaced out to make sure that if something went wrong with one car, it wouldn’t mean a pileup resulting in a financial loss equivalent to the GDP of a small country.

2016-pebble-beach-28 2016-pebble-beach-32 2016-pebble-beach-33 2016-pebble-beach-37

The “Elvis” BMW 507, a Mercedes-Benz 540 K, a Alfa Romeo Guilietta Sprint Speciale, and a BMW Mille Miglia Roadster passed by me in a matter of minutes. That’s like seeing a Panda Paul Newman 6263, that was worn by Newman, a Jaeger LeCoultre Polaris II Memovox Alarm, Patek Philippe 2499, and Blancpain Le Brassus Tourbillon Carrousel on the wrists of people walking past you.

2016-pebble-beach-62 2016-pebble-beach-61 2016-pebble-beach-27

My head was on a constant swivel, I didn’t want to miss a thing, but as I had learned with the events during car week, that’s just not possible. The sheer amount of automobilia present in the greater Carmel and Monterey area makes it impossible for one to not overlook something, and in order to fully enjoy yourself, you just need to embrace that. Did I lay eyes on the concours winning 1936 Lancia Astura Pinin Farina Cabriolet? I might have, but I can’t say for sure, there were lots of pretty, black, pre-war cabriolets out there.

2016-pebble-beach-56 2016-pebble-beach-52

What are unmistakeable are the curvaceous cars that Mr. Bizzarini built in Livorno. You may not be familiar with them, but you’re undoubtedly familiar with some of the other works he had a hand in before striking out on his own, like the Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa and GTO.

2016-pebble-beach-12 2016-pebble-beach-11 2016-pebble-beach-10 2016-pebble-beach-9

The origins of the wildest, the Italdesign Manta Concept, go back to the mid-sixties when Giotto began development on the P538 competition prototype in hopes of coming up with a car which could give the Ford GT40, Porsche 906, and Ferrari 250 P a run for their money. Bizzarini would have been especially happy to stick it to Ferrari since he was among the talent that left the company in 1961 following a disagreement with Enzo Ferrari.

2016-pebble-beach-34 2016-pebble-beach-51

Maximum resources were dumped into the project, and although P538 achieved one of the highest speeds on the Mulsanne Straight at Le Mans in 1966, a ruptured radiator pipe took the car out of the race. A change in regulations for the prototype category made the Corvette-engined car obsolete, and with so much Bizzarini in financial turmoil, the P538 chassis was sold off to the newly formed Italdesign in 1968. From there, Giugiaro penned one of the most memorable concept car designs of the era, in 40 days, at the age of 28.

2016-pebble-beach-24 2016-pebble-beach-23 2016-pebble-beach-22 2016-pebble-beach-21 2016-pebble-beach-14

If it were up to me, the magnificent dust buster would have taken home top honors in the class, but I wasn’t asked to judge – maybe next year. Instead, noted denim enthusiast (and automotive guru) Jay Leno, and a jury of experts awarded the Bizzarini Class R Award to Padma & Jürgen M. Wilms, of Düsseldorf, Germany, for their 1969 American Motors AMX/3 Auto Costruzioni S.D. Coupe. A perfectly reasonable choice seeing as it is an absolutely stunning vehicle. It’s also certainly worth mentioning that there were many watches on many wrists – I can’t show them all, but take a gander at a few above.

2016-pebble-beach-59 2016-pebble-beach-50 2016-pebble-beach-43 2016-pebble-beach-39

Back to the cars, Allison and Mark Sassak of Plymouth, Michigan, took home second place for their 1966 Bizzarrini 5300 Spyder Prototype Stile Italia, and because oddness is sometimes rewarded, even in the thick of the automotive aristocracy, Albert Spiess of Pfäffikon, Switzerland, was awarded third for the aforementioned 1966 Bizzarrini P538 Italdesign Manta Concept.

2016-pebble-beach-35 2016-pebble-beach-36 2016-pebble-beach-13

As part of their ongoing philanthropic efforts, Bulgari donated jewelry to charitable causes associated with the Concours. The donated pieces included a Bulgari necklace in pink gold and mother of pearl, as well as a B.zero1 ring in pink, white, and yellow gold. The Pebble Beach Company Foundation, the primary charitable partner of the Concours, raised over $1.75 million benefitting over 80 local charities. After all, it’s not all caviar and champagne out on the grass, that’s what The Quail is for. bulgari.com

Advertising Message

Subscribe to our Newsletter