Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 5
There were several incarnations of the legendary Iso Grifo. The first to appear was the 1964
Grifo A3/L (Lusso), designed by Giotto Bizzarrini (who looked after the mechanicals) and blessed with one of the most beautiful Giorgetto Giugiaro (Bertone
) body's to ever grace a car.
Although really only a prototype, the A3/L was shown at the Turin Motor Show by Bertone, while Iso themselves displayed their competition version A3/C. Minor modifications were made to the car while Iso geared up for serious production, the resultant Grifo Lusso GL 300 of 1966
being the first commercially available iteration.
This car was truly magnificent, being fitted with the dependable Chev Corvette small-block 327 V8 engine mated to a Borg Warner 4 speed toploader. As was the case with the Rivolta, the engines were not simply purchased from GM and plonked into the engine bay. Rather, each was completely stripped down, blueprinted and then painstakingly re-assembled.
The result was an engine producing more than 400 bhp (300 kW). The Grifo was light too, resulting in a potent power to weight ratio. Claimed top speeds were over 280 km/h, a brilliant achievement for the 1960's. In production form, the engine was slightly de-tuned, but still managed to develop an awesome 390 hp (291 kW).
Unfortunately however cracks started to appear in the Rivolta/Bizzarrini collaboration. Rivolta was concerned with the manufacture of the street going A3/L's being manufactured at Iso's Bresso facility, while Bizzarrini concerned himself with the manufacture of the A3/C which were being constructed at Piero Drogo's Sports Cars of Modena.
Grifo A3/C raced at Le Mans, being driven by Edgar Berney and Pierre Noblet. The Grifo proved itself on the day, coming a credible 14th place. Bizzarrini was left to ponder what could of been, the two hour pit stop to address brake problems costing the car a possible podium finish. In the end, only 22 A3/C's were constructed before the Rivolta/Bizzarrini collaboration came to an end.
Then in 1966
Renzo Rivolta died suddenly, leaving his son Piero to run the company. Fortunately this did not spell the end for the Grifo, and in 1968
the awesome Grifo 7 Litre was launched, this iteration being fitted with the Corvette L71 427 big-block V8. Naturally the Grifo had to undergo some significant structural changes to allow the fitment of the 7 litre V8 engine, although the only noticeable body change was the power bulge in the bonnet. The 7 litre V8 produced 435 hp (324 kW) at 5800 rpm, and Iso claimed the new model could reach a top speed of 300 km/h (186 mph).
The first major facelift occured in 1970
, the Grifo Series II now featuring a sleeker but still beautiful body. The most obvious design highlight was the introduction of new hide-away headlights.
Iso manufactured four Grifo Series II Targa’s, and switched from the 427 engines to the newer 454, the IR-9 “Can Am” version being born. Although bigger in capacity, the new engine was down on power and production of the 7 Litri ceased in 1972
Subsequently Iso switched to using the Ford Cleveland Boss 351 4BBL engine, these cars being known as the Grifo IR-8. Still utterly brilliant, sales began to dwindle due mainly to the oil crisis. Iso had never been a high volume seller, and it was probably inevitable that the company would eventually close its doors. Bugger.