- A stunning limited-production sports car
- Fitted with a Ford 351 Cleveland V-8 engine, one of only 37 delivered as such
Renzo Rivolta started building Isothermos refrigerators before World War II. Following the war, Rivolta recognized Italy’s need for transportation and named his new car company Iso Rivolta, alongside some of the most talented automotive designers in the country, including Giotto Bizzarrini and Giorgetto Giugiaro. Prior to the creation of the company bearing his name, Rivolta built scooters and then the famous Isetta bubble cars, which were later built by BMW. With the proceeds of the BMW deal, Rivolta resolved to build a GT car. The Iso Rivolta, a Bertone-styled four-seat coupe, appeared in 1962 at the Turin Motor Show and was built near Milan. The sportier two-seat Grifo was sold from 1965 to 1974.
Nuccio Bertone and Giotto Bizzarrini soon convinced Rivolta that a more sporting offering was required, and in 1963 the Iso Grifo A3/L (Lusso) was introduced, accompanied by its race-developed sibling, the A3/C (Corsa). Retaining the reliable, powerful, and deceptively lightweight Corvette engine and drivetrain, the car was low, sleek, and had excellent weight distribution.
Bizzarrini’s background was almost exclusively competition based, and it became increasingly apparent that his focus was on the A3/C, whereas Bertone and Rivolta were more conscious of the necessity for the A3/L to be a commercial success. In 1964 plans were put in place to develop a more refined version of the A3/L, to be known as the Iso Grifo GL (Gran Lusso). It was hoped that the car would be produced in greater numbers than the A3 variants—of which only a handful had been made—and would offer genuine competition to Ferrari and Maserati.
By the time the Series II cars were introduced in 1970, the Chevrolet 454 big-block V-8 was the powerplant of choice. These were then heavily reworked at the factory to include items such as forged connecting rods and a large-capacity finned aluminium sump, designed by Bizzarrini himself, which enabled the oil to be kept cool at high sustained revs.
The Grifo GL Series II example offered here is stunningly presented. Completed on 14 May 1973, it was born with a Ford 351 Cleveland V-8 engine and outfitted with a 3.31:1 rear axle ratio, air conditioning, and power steering. Finished in white with a rust-coloured interior, exactly as it presents today, it was delivered new to Germany, where it is believed to have remained since new. This would make a fine addition to any significant Italian sports car collection.