Iso Grifo A3/C Corsa by Bertone

Car producer : 

Iso

Model:

Grifo A3/C Corsa by Bertone

Year:

1964-1965

Type:

Coupe



Iso was initially named 'Isothermos and manufactured refrigeration units before World War II. The company was originally founded in Genoa in 1939, but was transferred to Bresso in 1942 by Renzo Rivolta, an engineer and the heir of industrialists. The business was refounded as Iso Autoveicoli S.p.A. in 1953 to reflect the production of motorized transport. Renzo Rivolta died in 1966, and his son, Piero, took over as managing director. At the start of 1973 the Rivolta family ceded the business to an Italian American financier named Ivo Pera who promised to bring American management know-how to the firm: the business was again renamed to Iso Motors, just before fading rapidly into obscurity.

The Iso Grifo is an Italian grand tourer automobile manufactured by Iso Autoveicoli S.p.A. between 1965 and 1974. Intended to compete with Ferrari and Maserati GTs, it used a series of American engines to simplify production, lower cost, and maximize reliability. Styling was by Giorgetto Giugiaro at Bertone, and mechanicals the work of Giotto Bizzarrini.

The first production GL models appeared in 1965 and were sold with modified Chevrolet Corvette small-block 327 (5.4 L) V8s fitted to Borg-Warner 4-speed manual transmissions. With over 400 horsepower (300 kW) and a vehicle weight of less than 2,200 pounds (1,000 kg), the Grifo was able to reach speeds over 275 km/h (171 mph).

In 1970 the Grifo Series II appeared, with sleeker styling and hide-away headlights and big-block Chevrolet 454 V8. It was replaced in 1972 with the Grifo IR-8, which used a small-block Ford Boss 351 engine. This was the last Iso of any type, as the manufacturer shut down in 1974.

In 1963 he designed the Iso Grifo A3/L (L for Lusso) for Renzo Rivolta, who was looking for a follow-up to his Iso Rivolta IR 300. The body was designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro at Bertone, while Bizzarrini put his expertise in the mechanicals. Bizzarrini figured there would also be a demand for a race version of the Grifo and came up with the A3/C (C for Corsa) with a dramatic modified alloy body. He later dubbed it his “Improved GTO", as he had been the designer for the 250 GTO when he had worked for Ferrari. The engine was moved back about 40 centimetres (16 in), making the A3/C one of the first front-mid-engined cars ever built. To adjust the timing a piece of the dash was removed. Both cars were being built simultaneously. When leaving the factory both the 250 GTO and Iso Grifo originally fitted Pirelli Cinturato 205VR15 tyres (CN72).

That same year Bertone showed the Grifo A3/L prototype at the Turin Auto Show, while Iso showed off the (partly unfinished) competition version; the Iso Grifo A3/C. Both were overwhelmingly successful. Although design changes had to be made to the prototype, Iso concentrated on getting the Grifo A3/L ready for production. The car got a light facelift that made it less aggressive but turned it into possibly the most elegant-looking Gran Turismo (GT) supercar ever produced. This “street” Iso Grifo GL received the fast, modified but reliable Chevrolet small-block 327 Corvette engine V8 (5.4 L) engine—either in 300 or 350 hp—coupled to a Borg-Warner 4-speed toploader. These engines were ordered in the United States, but were completely taken apart and blueprinted before they were put in; as they did with the Iso Rivolta IR 300. With over 400 horsepower (300 kW) and a weight of less than 2,200 pounds (1,000 kg), the vehicle was able to reach speeds over 275 km/h (171 mph).

While Renzo Rivolta focused on the A3/L; Giotto tried to promote the A3/C—making for some tension between the two. This meant that the Grifo GL was being produced at Bresso and the A3/C at Piero Drogo’s Sports Cars of Modena under Giotto’s strict supervision. In 1964 the prototype Grifo A3/C raced at Le Mans (Edgar Berney/Pierre Noblet), running well until brake problems required a two hour pit stop. The car then resumed the race, finally finishing in 14th place; an encouraging result for a brand-new car. Only 22 examples of the Bizzarrini Grifo A3/C were constructed before a disagreement between Renzo and Bizzarrini ended the cooperation.

Finally in 1965 Giotto Bizzarrini and Renzo Rivolta split ways, which resulted in separate production of the street Grifo GL and the competition Bizzarrini A3/C. Giotto refined his A3/C and this eventually turned out to be his line of Bizzarrini 5300 Stradas and Corsas. From here on the “Grifo” name was lost in connection to Bizzarrini.

The car developed 390 hp (290 kW) in its production form and could reach 110 km/h (68 mph) in first gear. Renzo Rivolta also showed a one-off Grifo A3/L Spyder at the Geneva auto show. The production of Iso Grifo GL started in 1965. In October 1966 the very first Grifo (car #97) with Targa Top was shown at Turin. This was one of 13 Series I Targas ever built; later, four series II Targas were built.

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