Iso Grifo A3/L Prototype – 1963
Marca : ISO rivolta
Modello : Grifo
Versione : A3/L
Anno : 1963
Telaio N. : 420001
Esemplari prodotti : One-Off
Designer : Giorgetto Giugiaro
Carrozzeria : Bertone
Progettista : Giotto Bizzarrini
Motore : 8 cilindri a V di 90°
Cilindrata : 5.358,6 cc
Distribuzione : OHV
Valvole Cilindro : 2
Alimentazione : 1 carb. Holley
Potenza : 350 CV SAE a 5.600 giri/min
Top speed Km/h : 260
2018 – Scottsdale – Gooding & co. – $1,760,000
At the 1963 Torino Motor Show, one of the decade’s most celebrated berlinettas, the Iso Grifo A3/L, was introduced on Bertone’s stand. Powered by a Corvette V-8 and built on the Iso Rivolta’s short-wheelbase chassis, the Grifo was designed by legendary engineer Giotto Bizzarrini with substantial input from Bertone stylist Giorgetto Giugiaro. Company principal Renzo Rivolta was so impressed with the prototype that he immediately approved production, and the model quickly achieved a faithful following for its handsome aesthetics and powerful mechanical specifications.
Chassis 001, presented here, is the prototype shown on the Bertone stand. The one-off car features numerous subtle differences from subsequent production examples. With a lower roofline and beltline, the coachwork is even sportier than the cars that followed, featuring unique details like a stainless steel wraparound roof band. Likewise, the interior was more luxuriously appointed, including a special shifter and steering wheel, among other unique features.
Following display at Torino, the prototype toured auto shows throughout Europe and was exhibited at the 1964 New York Auto Show before becoming a development car at the factory. By the early 1970s, the Grifo reportedly had been imported to the US by an actor, and while in Southern California it was purchased by well-known collector Ron Kellogg. It then passed to an intermediary in Yucca Valley, California, by which time the body had been repainted orange and the nose was replaced with one taken from a standard production Grifo.
In the late 1970s, this rare prototype was discovered by Winston Goodfellow, the well-known motoring author who founded the Iso & Bizzarrini Owner’s Club and is recognized as one of the world’s foremost experts on the marque. Amazed that he had located the one-off A3/L prototype – and that the car had only 50,000 km recorded at that time – Goodfellow gently circulated word of the car’s existence, and by the early 1980s, it was purchased by John Ling, a respected concours judge and collector who owned a restoration shop in Waukesha, Wisconsin.
Mr. Ling eventually sought to return the Iso to its authentic auto show appearance and opted for a full restoration. The front-end work was entrusted to the respected restorer Scott Grundfor; he utilized a CAD program to digitally map the original nose (based on period photos) and precisely fabricate an identical copy. Afterward, the Iso returned to Mr. Ling’s shop, which refurbished the drivetrain and chassis components, refreshed the interior, and repainted the exterior in correct Grifo silver. The beautifully restored prototype was then presented at the 1989 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®, winning a class award and the Gwenn Graham Memorial Trophy for Most Elegant Closed Car (a first for any postwar automobile).
In spring 1991, the A3/L was featured in Road & Track’s Exotic Cars Quarterly, and its build was explained at length in Goodfellow’s deeply researched 1995 book, IsoRivolta: The Men, the Machines. Around this time, Mr. Ling sold the Grifo to Dr. Frederick Reeser, a retired eye surgeon and collector based in Milwaukee, and he returned the car to Pebble Beach in August 1995, winning First in Class. The car also garnered awards in 1997 at Concorso Italiano and the Meadow Brook Concours d’Elegance.
A few years later, Dr. Reeser sold the Iso to Scott Grundfor, and he in turn sold it to an enthusiast residing in New York. Not long after, the A3/L was purchased by the consignor, and the car was maintained and displayed at the Blackhawk Museum in Danville, California, for many years.
Continuing to display the benefits of the authentic restoration, and still showing less than 52,000 km, this one-of-a-kind Grifo A3/L holds particular significance within the marque. The fabulously presented prototype exhibits the good quality of the paint and chrome, and the sumptuous interior is swathed in both Tobacco leather on the upper surfaces and perforated brown leather on the floors and parcel shelf. The cabin is replete with brilliant details like the unique shifter and wood-rimmed steering wheel, floor-hinged pedals, and smoke-tinted rear Plexiglas window.