The story of this Italian sports car begins, oddly enough, with Isothermos, an Italian refrigerator manufacturer founded in Genoa Italy in 1939. The company was taken over in 1942 by Renzo Rivolta, a car-crazy engineer and industrialist who soon ended refrigerator production and moved the company to Bresso, Italy where they began production of high-quality motorcycles. Isomotos, as they were known, were very well-built bikes with excellent performance, and despite being rather more expensive than the competition, proved popular with the Italian public. While motorcycles were critical in getting war-torn Italy back on wheels, buyers needed something more practical for year round use and runs to the shops. The solution came in the form of the Iso Isetta bubble car, a cheap, simple three (or four, depending on year and spec) wheeled micro car with a motorbike engine and room for two adults and some groceries. The Isetta was a moderate success in the home market, but it was Rivolta’s decision to sell the design rights to other companies that proved his biggest stroke of genius. Most notably, BMW produced a version of the Isetta that became one of the most popular microcars in Germany, exactly what the physically and economically devastated nation needed post-war. Renzo Rivolta’s business acumen afforded him the cash he needed to move decidedly upmarket with a line of elegant and stylish GT cars to take on the likes of Ferrari and Maserati. His new cars utilized Italian designed chassis and bodies built by the legendary Carrozerria of the day, but to save on development costs, he utilized affordable and reliable American V8 horsepower, first from Chevrolet, and later from Ford. After Renzo’s death in 1966, his son Piero took over operations and continued to expand upon his father’s dream by adding additional models and even making a moderately successful foray into motorsport. The Lele (named for Piero’s wife Lele Rivolta) debuted in 1969 as part of a three-car lineup that included the 2-seat Grifo and the four-door Fidia with the four-seat GT Lele positioned between the two. The Lele was Piero Rivolta’s answer to the Lamborghini Espada, Maserati Mexico and the Ferrari 365 2+2; a uniquely styled GT coupe which bore more than a passing resemblance to the Espada, particularly in the long and dramatic fastback roofline and slightly chunky proportions. This is hardly coincidence as both cars were styled by Bertone at about the same time. From 1969 through 1972, the Lele was powered by Chevrolet’s 327 and 350 V8 engines. From 1972 through the company’s demise in 1974, the cars utilized the big Ford 351 Cleveland engine. Regardless of the power plant, the Lele proved a formidable competitor in the GT car class, delivering excellent performance and handling in a stylish and distinct body. Approximately 260 examples were produced through all series until Iso closed its doors in 1974, making them exceedingly rare and desirable today. This fine example is chassis 50.0087, a 1971 model equipped from new with Chevrolet’s 350 cubic inch, 300 horsepower engine backed by a 5-speed manual transmission. Finished in white over a rich dark red leather cabin, this is an extremely well-maintained and highly original car that has never been fully restored. It is crisp and stylish in its white paintwork, which is a very high quality respray. The Bertone-styled bodywork is straight and tidy, with excellent panel gaps and nice, sharp feature lines. Fine details abound, such as the double-hash vents behind the wheels, and the distinct half-covered headlamps that recall other famous Bertone designs such as the Lamborghini Espada, Jarama, and Alfa Romeo Montreal. Chrome trim is used sparingly, on the bumpers, window trims and in delicate strips along the sills, all of which presents in excellent condition. The car rides on the signature, funky knock-off alloy wheels cast by Campagnolo for Iso. The luxurious four-place cabin is trimmed in dark red leather which is in lovely original condition, having taking on a warm and welcoming patina. The leather has been very well cared-for, and remains supple and free of excessive wear or damage. Dark red carpets are also excellent and likely original, as are the door and interior quarter panels and the ivory headliner. Switchgear is all in good order, and the original Personal steering wheel, Jaeger clock, and Becker Grand Prix AM/FM stereo remain in place and in great condition. Importantly, the Iso Lele is a very well sorted and soundly engineered automobile that returns fabulous performance from the stout and reliable Chevrolet small-block V8. The Chevy engine is backed by a sophisticated 5-speed ZF gearbox which allows the V8 to stretch its legs, giving the Lele continent-crushing ability, even with four passengers aboard. The engine is tidy and well-detailed, showing signs of regular and professional maintenance, even retaining the original quilted hood insulation pad. This Lele runs and drives beautifully, emitting a glorious growl that is part American muscle, part Italian sophisticate. This rare and stylish Iso Lele is a wonderful and well-sorted example in very desirable specifications that benefits from many years of attentive care, now ready for its next keeper to fully enjoy.
Registration No: GBD 442C Chassis No: BO 215 Chassis B0215 is the only right-hand drive A3/C with period competition history and a riveted aluminium body by Drogo. This magnificent car is powered by a Pete Knight 5.3L Chevrolet engine fitted with a Holley and currently producing 520bhp on the dyno and a top speed of circa 176mph. Beautifully prepared by Stanton Motorsports for an owner with a cavalier disregard for expense the car specs include De Dion rear suspension, BPA LSD, correct Dunlop brakes and a full leather interior. The car is offered with HTP & FIA papers and with a significant history file. It is road registered and has an additional engine and some running spares. This well-known car has been a regular entrant at all the most prestigious events including Le Mans & Spa. It makes a noise like the wrath of God and your mother is not going to like it. 18.05.2014 HSCC Silverstone International Circuit Northamptonshire England. GT and Sports Car Cup #77 Alex Bell and Peter Bradfield Iso Grifo A3 and C
The story of Iso Automobili begins with “Isothermos”, a refrigerator manufacturer in Genoa, Italy. In 1942, a motor-mad industrialist and engineer named Renzo Rivolta took over the business, renamed it Iso Autoveicoli and moved the whole works to Bresso, just outside of Milan. Under Rivolta’s guidance, Iso gradually moved away from refrigeration and began building motorcycle around 1948. Iso motorcycles were very expensive, but also very desirable thanks to robust engineering and exquisite build quality. In the early years after World War II, Italy was struggling to recover from the pummeling it received by both Allied and Axis forces. Motorcycles were popular, providing cheap transportation to get the nation back on wheels. But people also needed something more practical and usable on a daily basis. Iso unveiled the Isetta bubble car in 1953 – a three (later four) wheeled car powered by a motorbike engine and with room for two adults and a bag or two of groceries. The cheeky little Isetta proved popular enough to inspire Renzo Rivolta to sell the rights to produce his car to other manufacturers. Most notably, it is the car that helped BMW survive the post-war years and put Germany back on wheels. Selling the rights afforded Rivolta a generous pile of cash which he in turn used to develop a rather more luxurious machine compared to the tiny Isetta. In the early 1960’s Renzo Rivolta teamed up with Giotto Bizzarrini and Giorgetto Giugiaro on GT car that was more suited to the rapidly recovering global market. The new car, named Rivolta, is one of the first examples of the “hybrid” sports car to come out of Europe in the 1960’s. Italian designed and built, the car was constructed with a pressed sheet steel frame and fitted with a proven, reliable and affordable Chevrolet 327 V8 lifted from the Corvette. The suspension was comprised of wishbones up front and a proven DeDion rear axle with limited slip Salisbury diff – a tough and reliable unit used by Jaguar for years. Also courtesy of the Brits were the Dunlop four-wheel disc brakes. The Iso Rivolta was rounded out with luxurious and comfortable four-seat cabin, delightfully described in period literature as having “Efficient functioning united to sober elegance”. Performance was strong thanks to a minimum of 300hp from the Corvette engine in the IR 300, and 350hp from the IR 340. The literature also proclaimed the Iso Rivolta was “Silent from 40-240 (kph) in top gear!” That was enough to convince 792 lucky buyers over a 7 year span to shell out their hard earned Lire for a chance to own one of these stylish and elegant GT cars. This 1969 Iso Rivolta IR 340 is one of the very last Rivolta’s made. The car was completed on March 5, 1969, and delivered new to Sig. Oglihri in Italy, and was equipped with the 350 hp motor, 4 speed transmission, 3.31 rear end, Borrani wheels, air conditioning, and quick steering. It is a very pretty and well restored example that has benefited from proper care while in the hands of a marque enthusiast, and is one of only 167 produced with the higher horsepower motor. The paint quality is very good, the older restoration having been done to a high standard. Panel fit is excellent the gaps are consistent, and the body lines crisp and well defined. The red paint is very attractive, accented with good quality chrome and polished brightwork. The aforementioned Borrani wheels are painted in the proper shade of silver/gray, lending an understated and classic look to the Giugiaro-penned lines. The wheels wear new Vredestein tires that offer the proper period look combined with modern performance. The Rivolta was an expensive and luxurious GT car for its day, with a beautifully finished cabin and plenty of standard equipment. Our fine example doesn’t disappoint when you climb aboard. Occupants are treated to tan leather covering the four seats, door panels and dash. The interior was retrimmed some time ago but remains in excellent condition, showing little wear, exhibiting a pleasingly broken-in quality. Brown carpets complement the tan leather very nicely and present in fine condition. This car wears original air conditioning, power windows, original shift knob and steering wheel. The wood instrument panel is in excellent condition, fitted with an array of original European-specification gauges. This fabulous example retains its original matching numbers matching 350 hp Corvette-sourcedengine, and as such returns excellent performance and reliability. It is also very easily serviced by any competent classic car specialist, making it an ideal choice for Italian car enthusiasts who prefer to drive their cars on a regular basis without worrisome service bills. Few examples of the handsome Iso Rivolta are as correct and well presented, and thanks to regular care it is very healthy and ready for Grand Touring in classic Italian style.