Created as a modern revival of Bizzarrini’s iconic P538 racecar a decade ago, the P708 was built and designed with cooperation from Giotto Bizzarrini himself but the project never went any further than the development of a single prototype, which after sometime out of the limelight, is now coming up for auction by RM Sotheby's at its Rétromobile sale in Paris next month.
Just like one one of the engine options that powered a couple of the original P538s, at the heart of the new P708 revival was a Chevrolet V8, this time a 7.0-litre LS7 mated to a six-speed CIMA manual transmission.
The P708 prototype shows a very strong nod to the historic Bizzarrini P538 in its styling, starting with the flowing form of the front wings, which similarly tighly stretch themselves, mimicing the original, while the bonnet air intakes and exit slots also follow the style of the 1960s racer, albeit on the revival car the former are just moulded styling cues.
The car also features lower round lights spotlights embedded into the front spoiler, another neat theme taken from the original. There is original styled Bizzarrini badging on the bonnet which has been retained despite the supercar's later metamorphosis into 'Magnate' branding.
The cues keep coming and behind the driver's and passenger's heads the tapering roll hoops follow a similar pattern while the car's flanks are again dominated by a big air intake cutout. At the rear a similar single round taillight on either side is utilised, again positioned in a receessed panel section.
A convoluted project that took a longtime to come to gestation, as well as receiving input from Bizzarrini, the initial momentum was spawned by legendary UK-based race engineering firm Galmer Engineering while German automotive designer Stefan Schulze was also involved.
The car's carbon fibre bodywork was built by Magnate (Siam Intermagnate Co., Ltd.) of Thailand and according to RM Sotheby's development costs exceeded US$3,500,000 in the pursuit of building a car that could rival the supercar establishment. It would settle in Thailand and the prototype car was assembled in Chonburi province. It would be renamed by then project owner Kevin Gallaghan and his company Magnate Automotive, as the Magnate P708 Barchetta, and promoted as the first Thai-built supercar but a name change didn't help the project gain any momentum.
Believed to have been initially constructed and designed in the period from 2005–2009, this car was sebsequently shown at a few shows, including a high profile appearance at Bangkok's 'Thailand International Motor Expo', in an effort to drum up interest before traveling to Germany for further display and to sort out the car’s electronics.
However, the project stopped at that point and the car was left in Germany until 2013 until it was purchased by its current collector, an enthusiast and fan of the Bizzarrini marque, in a dismantled state. He took it upon himself to bring the car to the U.S. and finish the build. Now fully functional, the car has accumulated about 1,000 road miles with the current owner, who commented that it is ‘a rocket ship to drive’ thanks to its exceptional power-to-weight ratio.
RM Sotheby's say that this is "an exciting glimpse into ‘what might have been’ had Bizzarrinis still been in production today, this is a true one-off automobile developed to celebrate and honour one of the most fascinating cars of the 1960s and is a faithful tribute to a wonderful Italian–American automotive hybrid."
The auctioneers reckon this curious car, chassis number P708-0001, will fetch between US$300,000-500,000 while it's being sold without reserve. The also note that the car is titled in Montana, USA, as a 1974 Bizzarrini P708 Barchetta.