Giotto Bizzarini was born in 1926 to a family that worked in farming. However, his grandfather was an innovator who worked on many different inventions, including the radio. In college, he studied engineering, and his final thesis was on reworking the Fiat Topolino, later inspiration for the250 GTO. After graduating, Bizzarinni began his career at Alfa Romeo. His first job with the company was test driver. However, he quickly proved himself with his educational background and began working on the company’s vehicles. Then, Ferrari was first recognized when he orchestrated the 250 SWB, 250 GTO, and the 250 TR. After leaving Ferrari, he was part of the beginning of the ATS and later worked on the Lamborghini V-12. Then in 1962, the early roots of the ISO began to take share. He met Renzo Rivolta. Initially, he sought out Bizzarrini. The duo first designed the 250 GT. Together they developed the ISO Grifo A3/CS. The original concept started with elevating the Ferrari 250GTO. A movie called Iso Rivolta Chronicles documents the evolution of the name. Originally, Iso was a company that sold refrigerators; however, the decision to branch out to cars, the first being the Iso bubble car. Then, in the 1960s, they started manufacturing the GT cars, which later became the Iso Grifo. Collectors still try to find these cars despite their rarity. Many are eager to restore them to their original glory. Others hope that one day the original factory will become a museum. With all this press and a still increasing demand, it’s no wonder the car is legendary.
Several things make the ISO Grifo A3/C a standout from the competition. Italian race cars like Lamborghini are well known and often use national (duralumin), aluminum copper, and magnesium mix. Using this type of metal makes it difficult to weld. So, ISO designed rivets and found a much better way to join the body together. In all, there are about 1700 to create the body. Additionally, the car weighs only 2200 pounds with 400 hp and a front mid-engine. These features give it more power than similar models from other companies because it has less weight in the front. According to Mecum, the best part of the ISO is the Drogo aluminum bodywork. It also went against the grain of other Italian sports cars. Looking at the car, it’s plain to see that much of the inspiration was from Bizzarini’s early work at Ferrari. Originally, Bizarrini wanted to create a racing vehicle. Instead of recognizing the name, he wanted to name them 3AL, with the L standing for Lusso. However, it was indeed a super coupe with a smaller Rivolta GT champion. The vehicle also ended up being a meld of two different genni.
Although the ISO’s are overshadowed by companies like Ferrari and Porsche, they remain one of the preeminent sports cars from the 1960s. According to Robb Report, many felt that one of the reasons is the paint job crafted by Giorgetto Giugiaro, which includes “high watermarks.” Less than five hundred cars left the showroom between 1963 and 1974 when Bizzarini closed down. Throughout the car’s inception, Renzo Rivolta didn’t see as much of the innovation that Bizzari saw. A fight between Bizzarini and Rivolta caused the shutdown. Despite the professional differences, the two remained friends. However, Bizzarini continued to manufacture the cars without his partner. There were 22 cars manufactured by the partners and an additional 100 manufactured by Bizzarini. The last hundred models had distinct differences from the first line. Piero Drogo of Carrozeria Sports Cars of Modena made the body. However, later some designers tried to emulate the style, so it’s advised people make sure that their vehicle is authentic. It’s also why an auction became so popular.
Famous Iso Grifo
On November 1, 2021, Sotheby’s announced an upcoming auction featuring 75 road and race cars from the Guikas collection. The auction was held at the Paul Richard Circuit in France on November 19 and featured many vehicles that ranged from competition to luxury GTs. However, one car, in particular, caught everyone’s attention, the 1965 ISO Grifo A3/C. One of the things that makes it so famous is its first owner, Johnny Hallyday, known as the French Elvis. According to RM Sothebys, the car was initially registered under Mr. Smet dit Johnny Halladay. At the time, he had 100 million record sales and starred in 30 movies. Then, two years later, he sold the car to Jean Claude Guillaume, who then sold it to Grand Garage Moliere. The last owner changed the color back to its initial classic burgundy. Additionally, they updated portions of the interior. Over time, the car had one other owner Prince Pierre Sangusko. It sat in his garage for over two decades. While he owned it, he changed the paint colors to white with blues stripes. After he died, the car went to Daniel Marin, president of Ferrari France Pozzi. Then, in 2017 Chantilly Concours showed it off at the Great Musicians Cars class, where it won the “Special Reward.” So, now the award-winning car is up for auction and expected to sell for 2.3 million or higher. After all, there is only a handful left and rarely appear for sale.
Peter Gabriel once said, “all of those cars were once just a dream in somebody’s head.” The quote certainly sums up models made by Bizzarin. Throughout his career, he constantly sought improvement and built on previous knowledge to create some of the world’s most renowned vehicles. In addition to the ones mentioned in this article, he also worked on the Carrozzeria Sports Cars Modena, another prized car since only 20 were made. However, the ISO Grifo remains his greatest triumph. It has a storied history and remains a highly sought-after vehicle.