If it is good enough for John Lennon

18 August 2022

With the Quattroporte of the early 1960s, Maserati established a market for Italian sports saloons. A few years later, Piero Rivolta introduced a fast four-door into the Iso product range.

Designed by Giugiaro and built by Ghia, the Iso Rivolta Fidia (initially named the ‘S4’) should have met instant success. But the truth was somewhat different.

Problems beset the launch of the four-door Iso Rivolta, though it gained certain celebrity status when John Lennon showed great interest in the marque and bought the second Fidia made (and the first with right-hand drive). And other well-heeled celebrities did become buyers; after John Lennon came Pete Townshend, Sonny Bono and James Last.

However, the problems were to do with the press launch in Athens. The local fuel was of poor quality and had too low an octane rating for the new Italian saloon, resulting in accusations of horrible pinking from the journalists given a chance to drive it. These articles somewhat unfairly damaged the car’s reputation from the outset.

The premiere of the four-seater came in the autumn of 1967 at the Frankfurt Motor Show. It was described as ‘The fastest four seats in the world.’

In addition to the previous lousy press, the production was massively expensive; hence Rivolta raised the sale price to a level not far off that of a Rolls-Royce.

The Fidia started with a 327 Chevy V8 by 1973, but after General Motors demanded payment in advance of shipment, Iso switched the engine supplier, and he delivered cars with a Ford 5.8 litre V8.

As an aside: When DeLorean was ousted from GM, he started his own car company and hired Fidia’s designer, Giorgetto Giugiaro, then clear of Ghia, to design his dream car.

Iso Rivolta ceased to exist as a company in 1974 and built just over 190 cars.