The Fusion of Italian Design and American Power
In 1939, Renzo Rivolta established a company in Genoa producing fridges and heaters called Iso Thermo.
After the war, Rivolta went on to produce motorcycles such as the Iso Moto and later also small cars such as the Iso Autoveicoli.
In 1950, Renzo Rivolta designed and patented a small car, which he started to produce in 1953 as the Iso Isetta, the original bubble car.
After the war, the Rivolta Family founded Iso Autoveicoli S.p.A, as an automobile and motorcycle maker.
Renzo Rivolta went on to produce more cars, the Iso Rivolta GT and Iso Grifo sports cars.
The Iso Grifo was an Italian-American masterpiece, fusing Italian luxury and design with American power.
The Iso Grifo was built between 1965 and 1974.
Giorgetto Giugiaro of Bertone designed the bodywork, one of the most acknowledged Italian designers. The design is elegant and memorable.
The powerplant was pure American, initially using a Chevrolet V8 engine, ranging from mild to wild with 5.4-litres to 7.0-litres engines sourced from the Corvette and Camaro.
With a top speed of 167mph, depending on the engine and specification selected.
Between 1972 and 1974, Iso used a small-block Ford Boss 351 engine due to the ’70s oil crisis.
The Iso Grifo attracted the attention of celebrities and high-profile figures, including Elvis Presley, Johnny Hallyday, Brian Johnson, Sonny and Cher, George Harrison, and Mike Hailwood.
The Grifo starred in the Beatle’s Magical Mystery Tour film in 1967.
Grifo means Griffin in Italian.
The Griffin is a mythological creature, half lion and half eagle. The lion represents Renzo’s coat of arms, and the eagle symbolises the Freedom of America.
Sadly, the company doors were closed in 1974, partly due to the oil crisis.
The brand needed to be more exclusive for the well-heeled clients and was not helped by having an American engine.
Especially as other elite manufacturers of the time were building their prestige cars with their own high-performance engines.