Flat, wide, and aerodynamic best describes the ISO A3/C Grifo, its lines formed for purpose rather than beauty. It was developed in 1963 by nonconformist engineer Giotto Bizzarini, who at that time had a hand in many Italian sports and racing car projects. And there are many who are convinced that had enough A3/C been built for it to be homologated for the GT class, it could have been a world champion.
Background and origin
Born in 1908, Renzo Rivolta became a well-known, successful entrepreneur in Italy by the start of the 1960s. His company, Iso, started out making refrigerators, then mopeds, and nally the Isetta products. But while Iso was manufacturing scooters and small delivery vans, Rivolta had a keen interest in fast, powerful cars. And that led to him thinking of building his own GT car.
Meanwhile, Giotto Bizzarrini was born in a small village south of Livorno in 1926, going on to study engineering and aerodynamics at the University of Pisa. In the summer of 1954 he started his rst job in the automotive department at Alfa Romeo, where under the leadership of former Grand Prix driver Consalvo Sanesi he was put to work as an ‘educated test driver’. His job was to discover weaknesses and then work on how to solve them.
He did so well at Alfa Romeo that he was poached by Ferrari when he was 31. In Maranello Bizzarrini was instrumental in the development and running of the 250 GT SWB and the GTO. But at the end of 1961 he left Ferrari as part of the famous engineer revolt, which led to him founding his own company Autostar in Livorno in 1962. That was renamed Prototipi Bizzarrini in 1964 and then Automobili Bizzarrini in 1965.
Rivolta had the desire, the money, and the possibilities to develop and build a GT car, while Bizzarrini had the know-how to get the job done right. So the pair agreed that Bizzarrini would work together with the Iso engineers, to whom the idea of developing a GT car was somewhat foreign. In June 1962 Rivolta proudly unveiled the prototype of the Rivolta GT IR300 in front of his villa on the company grounds in Bresso, a few kilometres north of Milan. The two-door, four-seat car was styled by Bertone, under the guidance of young head stylist Giorgio Giugiaro, and powered by the 5.4-litre V8 engine from the Chevrolet Corvette.
More in the current issue!
by Harold Schwarz und Michael Cotton
Photographs: Klemantaski, The Cahier Archive/Bernhard Cahier, McKlein