Ultimate Garage 2.0: Car #4

“If you find it hard to laugh at yourself, I would be happy to do it for you.”

– Groucho Marx


Day #500, once again compulsion defeats disappointment. Is the phrase “ennui on steroids” an oxymoron?


The second of three “original hybrids” in Ultimate Garage 2.0, the 1966 Iso Grifo smallblock just missed the cut the first time. I rationalized the exclusion by saying it was a very similar car, in looks and drivetrain, to another car that made it. That is still true, but I deem it irrelevant this time.


See the source image


The top photo is from allcarsforsellnz.com; the bottom is from a site called astonmartin-lotus.com. The reason I specified the smallblock version is that the model equipped with a Chevrolet big block, the Iso Grifo was powered by Chevrolet and Ford engines, necessitated a giant roof-like structure in the middle of the hood that hurts the appearance for me.

Iso, an Italian firm, was the same company that developed the Isetta bubble car (Isetta means “little Iso” in Italian). That design was licensed to many manufacturers, most notably BMW, and the earnings from those licenses allowed Iso to produce GT automobiles. Iso’s first car exported to the US was the Rivolta in 1963 (Iso was founded by Renzo Rivolta). The Grifo was introduced in 1965.

In 1965-66 the Grifo was available with two versions of the legendary Chevy 327 cubic-inch smallblock V8. In more aggressive tune with a higher compression ratio and solid lifters the engine was rated 340 HP/360 LB-FT of torque. The transmission was either the Borg-Warner T-10 four-speed manual, a five-speed manual by ZF or the Powerglide automatic.

The Grifo was not cheap; the POE (Point Of Entry) price was about $15,000. The base price for a 1966 Corvette coupe was about $4,300. The Grifo is still not cheap; according to Hagerty the average price of a 1966 Iso Grifo with the higher output engine is about $350,000.

The 1973 oil crisis in addition to more stringent US emissions and safety standards of the early 1970s doomed the Grifo, which had been changed in 1970 to the Grifo Series II and again in 1972 to the Grifo IR-8. Iso went bankrupt and ceased operations in 1974. Only 412 Grifos of all types were made, which helps to explain their value.

I think these cars look amazing and they weren’t just for show, either. Imagine 340 HP/360 LB-FT in a car that weighed about 2,900 pounds.

Any thoughts on the Iso Grifo?







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Please have a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day weekend and don’t forget the reason for the holiday.