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Saturday, July 25, 2015

A bizarre '60s concept supercar

This 1968 concept car was the starting point for what would become one of the world's most famous auto design firms, Ital Design. Just as amazing and bizarre as the car itself is the fact that it was lost -- as in just plain misplaced -- for almost a decade.
Bizzarinni P538. (Picture from: http://bit.ly/1RUk8ko)
The Bizzarrini Manta was based on a race car, the Bizzarinni P538. Car designer Giorgetto Giugaro, who had worked for several Italian automakers and design houses, saw the retired racer as his chance to strike out on his own.
1968 Bizzarrini Manta. (Picture from: http://bit.ly/1RUk8ko)
The most unusual aspect of the Manta, besides the garish color scheme, is its seating. The driver sits in the center of what is, essentially, a bench seat. Passengers would sit to either side with the three occupants riding shoulder to shoulder.
Left side view of 1968 Bizzarrini Manta. (Picture from: http://bit.ly/1RUk8ko)
For the driver, getting in involves opening one of the very, very long doors, sitting in the passenger seat and sliding across into the driver's seat. Getting over the gearshift lever is, surprisingly, no problem.
Interior view of 1968 Bizzarrini Manta. (Picture from: http://bit.ly/1RUk8ko)
Since this is a concept car, the seats and steering aren't adjustable leaving an average-sized driver in the awkward position of having the steering wheel between his knees.
Rear side view of 1968 Bizzarrini Manta. (Picture from: http://bit.ly/1RUk8ko)
Despite its Italian roots, the Manta is Detroit-powered. Behind the passenger compartment is a 400 horsepower 5.4-liter Chevrolet V8 engine. With the engine in the back rather than the front, designer Giugario decided to simply let the car's shape flow from its engineering. 
A 400 hp 5.4-liter Chevrolet V8 engine in the 1968 Bizzarrini Manta. (Picture from: http://bit.ly/1MnaORG)
He didn't give the Manta a needlessly long hood or try to hide its long back end. Instead, the car's profile follows a clean, simple line up over the engine and the passenger compartment then down to the ground in front.
Unveiled at the 1968 Turin motor show, the Manta is now considered one of the most influential concept cars of the 1960s. In its day, it was featured on the cover of Road & Track magazine. Motor Trend also called it "one of the major stars of the exhibit." After its Turin debut the Manta went to shows in Tokyo and Los Angeles. On its way back to Italy the car, the car was lost. *** [EKA | FROM VARIOUS SOURCES | SUPERCARS.NET]
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