The 1965 Italian GP was a true failure for Ferrari. What's more, of his three cars on the grid, only one managed to finish. Specifically, the one driven by Lorenzo Bandini, who was left at the gates of the podium after arriving behind Jack Stewart, Graham Hill and Dan Gurney. A spectacular triad of aces behind the wheel, completely dominated by British-made vehicles. In addition, that season was won by Jim Clark on the back of his Lotus 33 and 25. However, some tifosi not only remember that September 12 in Monza as a soulless day for the Scuderia de Maranello. Far from it, the shape of a strange model presented in the heat of the occasion was recorded in the minds of some.
It is the Strale Daytona 6000 GT. A sports car that, although it hides the mechanics of an ISO Rivolta GT "Road”, visually it is quite similar to a Ferrari 250 LM. As it is, everything is enigmas. Where had that mark come from? Were there real intentions to create a new range at the level of those offered by Maserati, Bizarrini or Ferrari? Are we talking about a unique piece? At this point of confusion, it is best to go in parts explaining this story of what could have been and was not. Let's see. First of all, Carlo Bernasconi has to enter the scene. Director of an exclusive Milanese dealer who, however, was not satisfied with just selling models produced by others.
Far from it, he wanted to launch his own range. Of course, he had neither capital nor technical equipment in order to support this dream. However, around 1964 he bought a damaged Rivolta GT at a low price. Seriously damaged but eventually recoverable, This was the basis for giving free rein to his creativity working together with the Nembo workshop in Modena.. Also known as Neri & Bonacini, this one not only built chassis for Ferrari, Lamborghini or Maserati. He also made quite noticeable mechanical transformations. Thanks to this, Bernasconi entrusted to this company not the restoration, but the complete reconversion of that wrecked vehicle. So far everything is clear, but what was the objective to achieve?
Well, neither more nor less than a competition GT with the possibility of being manufactured in short series for individuals and teams. Something very in line with the times. Not surprisingly, the Italian reference in this regard was the Ferrari 250 LM. Launched precisely during the same year as the Strale, 1964. On this idea, the chassis of the Rivolta was shortened in order to achieve better behavior in curves even at the risk of generating quite critical handling. In addition, an attempt was made to lighten the package as much as possible making this design a promising upstart for the World Championship for Makes. In other words, the top of endurance racing with Le Mans as the main trophy.
And speaking of Le Mans, we come to the mechanics. And it is that that Rivolta GT “Road” had a specification very similar to that used by the ISO A3/C prepared by Giotto Bizzarrini for the 1964 World Cup. Premiered at the 12 Hours of Sebring. But especially famous thanks to the fourth overall position and first in its class during the 24 Hours of Le Mans that same year. Now, Bernasconi and Nembo's project implied a substantial change with respect to ISO A3/C. Not surprisingly, a multitude of new adjustments and details were added to the work on the chassis. That is, we are not talking about a simple epidermal change. Absolutely.
In any case, the truth is that the engine did remain practically unchanged. In this way, the 8-liter V5,3 block from a Corvette delivered 490 hp with two double-body Weber carburettors. Also, from the ISO also inherited some excellent suspensions. With double wishbones at the front and radial arms with DeDion axle at the rear. That is to say, in the absence of assessing issues related to reliability or assembly, that improvised design in the small Neri & Bonacini workshops was no joke.
Of course, it had to be sold. Thus, Bernasconi created the trade name Strale. The Italian word to refer to javelins, so clearly there was a visual relationship with speed. And boy, was this where the real trouble started. And it is that, like so many other automotive initiatives presented with as much impetus as little head, the Strale Daytona 6000 GT had to face financing problems. Obviously, these were expected to be resolved thanks to the advances made by the first petitions. However, that never came. And no wonder. After all, in 1965 Italy there were other, much more reliable options if you wanted a high-end sports car. In addition, most of the sales were registered in the segment of usable GTs both on circuit and on trips.
In short, what could be the gap for a kind of carbon copy of the Ferrari 250 LM? Obviously very little. What's more, everything that happened to the few cars produced by Scuderia Serenissima supports this interpretation. At this point, the life of the Strale Daytona 6000 lasted only a few months. And yes, the use of the plural is fully conscious, since the existence of at least two prototypes is known. Less than the five of which came to speak long ago. Fortunately, both have survived to this day and, specifically, this one – the only one with a roof and not targa – was in the hands of Bernasconi until 1991. After that, it was completely restored to be immediately afterwards auctioned by RM Sotheby's last 2010. Quite an eccentric Italian marvel with an American engine.
P.D. Due to the clear connection with ISO thanks to the chassis and mechanics of Chevrolet origin, in the restoration this unit received the emblem of this brand both on the hood and on the steering wheel. What's more, the model is usually named as if it were an ISO, which invites not a few confusions.
Photographs: RM Sotheby's