Saturday, March 2, 2013

American Muscle, Italian Style: Iso-Rivolta Grifo

Early Grifo at speed, pic from Wikimedia Commons

In the early 1960s, Iso-Rivolta SpA of Bresso, Italy was already famous for its sleek, Chevrolet Corvette-powered IR300 grand tourer, and company founder/president Renzo Rivolta wanted a followup to the IR300. The sleek fastback Grand Tourer that resulted was the work of famous automotive engineer Giotto Bizzarrini, late of Ferrari, and young hotshot designer Giorgetto Giugiaro at Carrozzeria Bertone. Also powered by a Chevrolet Corvette V8, and having a clean-sheet chassis design, this was an elegant yet potent exotic car that was mostly built by hand and received rave reviews. 17 targa-top versions were built, with the remainder of the 413 Grifos produced from 1963-74 being coupes.

The car developed 390 horsepower (290 kilowatts) in its stock form, and was not a small car at its length of 174.4 inches (4,430 millimeters). Transmission availability included 4-speed Muncie and 5-speed ZF manuals, or 3-speed automatic on special order. Over the years, engine availability included the Chevrolet Corvette 5.4-liter V8, Ford "Cleveland"5.7-liter V8, and 7-liter and 7.4-liter Chevrolet V8s, all sourced in the US but totally reworked and blueprinted at the factory.

The Grifo's interior featured incredible luxury and comfort along with style, and build quality was top-notch. Variations of the Grifo chassis were used under the Fidia sedan and Lele 2+2 coupe, offering spirited handling and a comfortable ride.

In 1970, the Grifo lost some of its elegant style and cachet with a then-stylish droop snoot nose and hideaway headlights, and got an execrable bonnet scoop, then went away in 1974 with the remainder of Iso-Rivolta's car range.

Lesney-Matchbox produced a UK-market Grifo in small-scale in the late 60s, which was a staple in toyboxes worldwide for years, and the one in the author's collection has some wear and tear plus some detailing.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Got something to say? Add a comment!
All comments are subject to moderation. All spam, hate comments, flame comments or trolling comments will be declined.