The Iso Grifo was exclusive. In ten years, a mere 504 were built. Styled by Bertone, the Grifo was rooted in the Rivolta GT. Giotto Bizzarrini – ex-Ferrari engineer – shortened the latter’s chassis. That added agility to the base model. It was then passed on to Bertone. With that sort of pedigree, Iso were ready to take on Ferrari!
Time, then, to add some speed to the mix. Enter the Chevrolet Corvette. Well, its engine, anyway. The American V8 imparted some serious grunt to the Grifo. It probably did not please European purists. But, for drivers content with beautiful bodywork – plus muscle car oomph – things were bubbling up nicely. The top-spec Grifo came with the 7-litre version of the Chevy V8. That made it good for 170mph. It hit 70 in first gear alone. 390bhp was duly unleashed. Bizzarrini’s reduced wheelbase helped transmit power to tarmac. Wisely, Iso had fitted a full set of disc brakes!
As it turned out, the Grifo did indeed go toe to toe with Ferrari – in the form of the Daytona. The Maserati Ghibli, too, was given a real run for its money. For a small outfit like Iso, that was some achievement. Sadly, financial woes would plague it, in years to come. The fuel crisis – in ’74 – finally sealed the firm’s fate. By then, though, the Iso Grifo had already established itself as a thoroughbred Italian sports car!