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1969 ISO Grifo GL

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Giorgetto Giugiaro designed many of the influential and trend-setting vehicles during the 1950s and 1960s including the DeTomaso Mangusta, BMW 3200 CS, Maserati 5000 GT, ASA 1000 GT, Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta SWB Speciale, and numerous others. The styling applied to the Iso Grifo was so attractive that it was later used, to some degree, for the Maserati Ghibli (1967 to 1973). Both had a similar shape, fastback configuration, and similar dimensions (98.4-inch wheelbase for the Iso while the Ghibli had a 100.4-inch platform).

Another individual responsible for some of the greatest vehicles during this time period was Giotto Bizzarrini, whose mechanical genius was applied to Alfa Romeo, Ferrari ATS, and Lamborghini during this time. After working on the Ferrari 250 GTO of the late 1950s and 1960s, he and five other engineers left Ferrari in protest and founded ATS (Automobili Turismo e Sport). Soon after, he was commissioned by Ferruccio Lamborghini to design a V12 engine for use in the 350GT of 1964. The basic design of this engine would power every V-12 Lamborghini until 2010.

It was these two individuals that Iso Autoveicoli S.p.A. selected to help with creating a limited production grand tourer named the Grifo. The styling was courtesy of Giugiaro at Bertone while Giotto Bizzarrini was tasked with the engineering. Just like they had done with their high-performance Rivolta IR 300, the company selected an American powertrain. The Iso Grifo A3/L ('L' for Lusso, Italian for 'luxury') was introduced in 1963 at the Turin Motor Show.

Bizzarrini's passion revolved around motorsport competition with many of his vehicle designs incorporating race-worthy components and state-of-art tune that would endure the rigors of intense and prolonged driving. As a businessman, Renzo Rivolta (owner of Iso) understood the importance of building a gran turismo vehicle that encapsulated both athleticism and luxury, that could perform when it was necessary to do so, while enveloping its occupants in a comfortable environment. Since both individuals were reluctant on conceding any territory, essentially two versions of the Grifo were eventually built, a 'race' Corsa version called the A3/C ('C' for corsa) and the luxurious A3/L. Both would become successful in their own right, with the A3/L achieving success in press reviews and at the salesroom, while the A3/C proved to be a potent competitor.

The Iso Grifo was initially powered by a Chevrolet small-block V8 with a 327 cubic-inch displacement, overhead valves, and rated at 300 horsepower (upwards of 350 bhp depending on configuration) in standard guise. The engine was manufactured in the United States and then shipped to Italy where they were taken apart prior to installation into the engine bay of the Grifo. The engines were backed by a Borg-Warner 4-speed manual transmission with hydraulic disc brakes providing the stopping power. The rear brakes were positioned inboard. The suspension was independent in the front with coil springs, tube shocks, and anti-roll bar while the rear used a deDion axle with coil springs, tube shocks, and Watts Linkage.

The Iso Grifo was the best of both worlds - combining Italian styling with the performance of an American V8.

Edgar Berney and Pierre Noblet drove a prototype A3/C at the 1964 24 Hours of Le Mans where it proved to be a potent contender until it was sidelined prematurely due to brake problems. After a two-hour pit stop, the car returned to racing and was able to finish in 14th place. The A3/C returned a year later and improved upon its position, placing 9th overall.

Shortly after production of the Iso Grifo GL began in 1965, the union between Bizzarrini and Rivolta quickly dissolved. Production of the Grifo GL continued at Bresso, while the A3/C production was handled by Piero Drogo's Sports Cars of Modena, under Bizzarrini's supervision. Twenty-two examples of the Grifo A3/C were built prior to the Rivolta and Bizzarrini split.

A total of 330 examples of Series I and 83 of the Series II cars were built for a total of 413 examples, 90 of which came equipped with 7-liter engines. Just four examples were Series II models with Targa roofs, far less than the 14 examples of the Series I. 23 examples of the Series II had five-speed Tremec transmissions replacing the original four-speed manual.

The Grifo '7 Litri' models were equipped with Chevrolet's L71 big-block V8 engine with Tri-Power and a 427 cubic-inch (7-liter) displacement. They developed approximately 435 horsepower at 5,800 RPM and had a factory claimed top speed of around 186 mph (300 km/h). To accommodate the large 7-liter powerplant, a large scoop dubbed the 'Penthouse,' was added to the hood. Several mechanical components were 'beefed' up to cope with the tremendous amounts of power, including strengthened chassis components, enlarging the engine compartment, and reinforcing engine mounts.

The 7-liter Chevy engine had gained notoriety by powering Corvette race cars around the most storied racing circuits in the world.

While the exterior was 'athletic,' the interior was luxurious with Saddle leather bucket seats, leather-wrapped center console, and a three-spoke wood-rimmed steering wheel with Griffin center cap, and woodgrain dashboard housing Veglia Borletti instrumentation. Desirable interior amenities included a dash clock, air conditioning, power windows, and a Becker Europa II AM/FM radio.

The Iso Grifo was a successful combination of Italian styling combined with the performance of an American V8.


by Daniel Vaughan | Nov 2021

Related Reading : ISO Grifo History

In 1962, the Milan car manufacturer ISO introduced its second model, the Grifo. The first was the Rivolta. Giorgio Giugiaro of Bertone designed the body and Giotto Bizzarrini, creator of the Ferrari GTO, engineered it. The Grifo was powered by a Chevrolet 5.3 liter V8 and sat atop a shortened Rivolta platform. The engine was placed in the front and drove the rear transaxle. The Borg-Warner T4 4-speed....
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Related Reading : ISO Grifo History

Founder and head of Iso S.p.A. of Bresso, Renzo Rivolta began his business Isothermos in refrigerators before moving on to automotive design. The company is well known for its bubble cars and motorcycles, but their claim to fame lies in their performance GT car Iso Grifo. In 1960 Renzo was immensely attracted to the British Gordon GT prototype. Borrowing it for inspection Renzo also borrowed some....
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1969 Vehicle Profiles

1969 ISO Grifo GL vehicle information
Coupe
Coachwork: Bertone

Chassis Num: 920.242

1969 ISO Grifo GL vehicle information
Coupe
Coachwork: Bertone

Chassis Num: 7L950.297

1969 ISO Grifo GL vehicle information

Chassis Num: 7L930.260
Engine Num: 1362

Performance and Specification Comparison

Price Comparison

$1,300-$13,448
1969 Grifo GL
$13,448-$25,580
1969 ISO Grifo GL Base Price : $13,448

Other 1969 ISO Models

Grifo

Year
Production
Wheelbase
Engine
Prices
96.50 in.
8 cyl., 327.00 CID., 350.00hp
98.40 in.
8 cyl., 327.03 CID., 300.00hp
$14,985 - $14,985
98.40 in.
8 cyl., 327.03 CID., 300.00hp
8 cyl., 327.03 CID., 365.00hp
$14,985 - $14,985
98.40 in.
8 cyl., 327.00 CID., 300.00hp
$13,750 - $13,750
98.40 in.
8 cyl., 454.20 CID.
8 cyl., 427.04 CID., 350.00hp
98.40 in.
8 cyl., 327.00 CID., 300.00hp
8 cyl., 327.03 CID., 350.00hp
8 cyl., 427.04 CID., 400.00hp
$13,448 - $13,448
98.40 in.
8 cyl., 327.00 CID., 350.00hp
8 cyl., 327.03 CID., 350.00hp
8 cyl., 427.04 CID., 400.00hp
$13,448 - $13,448
98.40 in.
8 cyl., 329.53 CID., 325.00hp
8 cyl., 327.03 CID., 350.00hp
8 cyl., 427.04 CID., 400.00hp
$13,448 - $13,448
98.40 in.
8 cyl., 351.00 CID., 325.00hp
$13,450 - $13,450
98.40 in.
8 cyl., 327.00 CID., 300.00hp
8 cyl., 327.03 CID., 350.00hp
8 cyl., 427.04 CID., 400.00hp
$13,450 - $13,450

Industry Production

#1#2#3ISO
1974Chevrolet (2,333,839)Ford (2,179,791)Renault (1,355,799)
1973Chevrolet (2,579,509)Ford (2,349,815)Fiat (1,390,251)
1972Chevrolet (2,420,564)Ford (2,246,563)Fiat (1,390,251)
1971Ford (2,054,351)Chevrolet (1,830,319)Volkswagen (1,128,784)
1970Ford (2,096,184)Chevrolet (1,451,305)Volkswagen (1,193,853)
1969Chevrolet (2,092,947)Ford (1,826,777)Volkswagen (1,241,580)
1968Chevrolet (2,139,290)Ford (1,753,334)Volkswagen (1,191,854)
1967Chevrolet (2,206,639)Ford (1,730,224)Toyota (1,068,321)
1966Ford (2,212,415)Chevrolet (2,206,639)Volkswagen (1,168,146)
1965Chevrolet (2,375,118)Volkswagen (1,174,687)Toyota (1,068,321)
1964Chevrolet (2,318,619)Ford (1,594,053)Toyota (1,068,321)

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