Lot 255 - 1968 ISO Grifo Seven Litre
|Estimate||£240,000 - £280,000|
Renzo Rivolta was a successful industrialist in the sector of Refrigeration just outside Milan in Italy. During the post-war period of the 1950's, he branched into motor-scooters and then microcars, manufacturing the Isetta Bubblecar which was very successfully licenced to other manufacturers; most notably BMW who went on to build over 130,000 examples. In 1962, Renzo Rivolta moved into the luxury performance motorcar segment revealing, at the Turin Motor Show, his sleek 2+2 'Rivolta IR300' competing directly with established marques such as Maserati and Ferrari. In 1963, Giotto Bizzarrini (previously of Ferrari) provided mechanical expertise for Iso to refine the drivetrain and platform for a new Berlinetta Coupé with the bodywork penned by Gioretto Guigaro at Bertone.
The new Iso prototype 'Grifo A3/L' was revealed at the Turin show in 1963 to overwhelming approval. First production Iso Grifo's followed and all used reassembled and blueprinted Chevrolet Corvette 5.4 litre engines until a seven-litre option was introduced in 1968. With some detailing modifications, such as a subtle bonnet scoop, necessary to accommodate the taller engine and a black band across the rear roof pillar to denote the car as a seven-Litre, a total of 322 Series I Grifo's were built before the design received a facelift in 1972 after which time a further 78 (Series II) Grifo's were built. In total 90 Grifo's were specified in seven-Litre form with only four being built in righthand drive.
This Iso Grifo is the 1968 Earls Court Show car and is one of only four righthand drive, super-rare seven-litre Grifo's built. Whilst it was priced similarly to the Lamborghini Miura and Ferrari Daytona in its day and with performance statistics to match, it has only been in more recent years that the collectability of Iso's finest cars has been comparable to the cars that the Iso's were designed to compete with when new.
The knowledgeable owner, for the past 28 years, has been the recognised UK authority on Iso & Bizzarrini cars. Consequently the car is well published and its history very well documented. Purchased in 1986 without its original 427 cu in, 390bhp unit, a 454 cu in replacement with 0.030" overbore delivers a displacement of 7.5 Litres. Aesthetically the engine bay remains very much as it would have been when the car was new, in both show condition and physical layout. Respected V8 Specialists 'Knight Racing' completed the engine rebuild and dynamometer tests record 490bhp at 5,500rpm.
The engine is mated to a modern Tremec TKO600 five-speed gearbox capable of handling this mighty power. This unit has a very close match of ratios to the ZF gearbox that Iso originally optioned on its models. Considerable care and expense has been invested into the manufacture of a stainless steel exhaust system which, although of bigger bore, is true to the subtle profile lines of the original and sings with suitable throb and growl.
The vendor relates that starting is reliable and the car quickly warms. Handling is tight and power delivery instant and somewhat relentless - the horizon arriving often quicker than anticipated. The poise of the car on the move is reported to be well balanced and purposeful; the brakes firm and strong. It is clear that a great deal of time and effort have been invested into this car to ensure that the driving experience is reliable yet exhilarating. Pampered, not raced, this Grifo is a true credit to its fastidious owner. The black leather interior remains entirely original and beautifully patinated. The red coachwork is virtually flawless and has a deep, rich lustre. Wheels are Campagnolo Elektron with correct magnesium alloy centre spinners.
High profile awards for the car include a First in Class trophy for 'Best of Both Worlds' in the Cartier Style et Luxe at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in 2004.
A rare opportunity to acquire one of the most powerful, rarest and most elegant-looking sporting GT's of the period.
Interested parties should satisfy themselves as to the description and condition of each lot prior to the sale. Buyers are advised to inspect the car in person or use a professional to carry out this service.