Those in the vintage car trade often talk about the value of an unrestored, original car over a shinier, maybe recently overhauled example. While a good restoration improves driveability and polished aesthetics, unprofessional work can do almost irreversible damage, raising future costs and harming the car’s value. A lot depends on the rarity of the model as well, and in the case of 1965-68 Bizzarrini 5300 GTs, originality can be even more crucial due to the relatively high number of convincing replicas out there.
No matter where it lived, a car with a hand-formed aluminum body welded onto a steel chassis will always corrode at the worst possible spots. The Corvette-powered Bizzarrinis are no exception, which is how this example became a candidate for a truly special restoration.
Coldplay bassist and car collector Guy Berryman bought this Bizzarrini 5300 GT Strada, one of just 133 Bertone-bodied A3C and Stradas finished before the company’s 1969 demise. The Chevy-powered 2+2 then went to classic car specialists at Thornley Kelham in the UK, who started by diving into the period documents while conferring with Jack Koobs de Hartog, a Belgian historian in the know with these cars.
Following the research phase, a restoration job of this scale usually takes between 18 and 24 months, or up to 4500 hours. Here’s how the experts at Thornley Kelham explain it:
“The process starts with a professional ‘before’ photoshoot, followed by disassembly and cataloguing of parts and then assigning and managing any subcontractors. Once this is complete, the restoration and rebuild phases begin. In this case the metalwork, usually done in-house, was taken care of by Gary Pitney at GP Panelcraft. The bare metal job here took up to 800 hours. The brakes proved tricky to get ‘just right’, and in the end pragmatism won the day—based on the fact that Guy will use the car regularly. Dunlop-style brakes were therefore a rare specification change—everything else was exactly as the car would have left the factory, crucially maintaining originality in such a rare car.”
Interestingly, as part of efforts to maintain purity and originality, Thornley Kelham left most of the factory welding in place, “despite the fact that some of it was terrible,” but the team did strengthen the chassis where necessary. Mr. Berryman’s Bizzarrini 5300 GT Strada even won a trophy for ‘Restoration of the Year’ at the UK’s Historic Motoring Awards.
The way this outstanding restoration was documented presents the rare opportunity not just to inspect every detail of a stunning Bizzarrini, but also to walk through the steps of such a large-scale project, step by step. If you’re a devoted skeptic wondering how hard a job like this could really be, the detailed gallery below should paint a picture of what an impressive transformation this car experienced. It clearly wasn’t a project for the faint of heart.