It all started with a Matchbox car.
I was about ten or 12 when I discovered the Iso Grifo, and I’ve been in love with it ever since. The tiny Matchbox car showed the Italian lines so well, but couldn’t show the cars heart. That’s because under the hood was an all american Chevy 327.
The car was built by Iso Rivolta between 1965 and 1974. Barely more than 400 of them were built. Giotto Bizzarrini was responsible for designing the mechanical swhile Giorgetto Guigiaro created the body.
The front suspension was pretty basic, wishbones and coil springs. The rear had a de dion live axle. The car had disc brakes all around. Depending on which 327 landed in the car it had between 300 and 350 horsepower.
The later models shifted to the 427. I was never a big fan of this style because of the raised hood necessary to make way for the bigger engine. Still, that big block could whip the Iso Grifo along at 170 mph.
So why didn’t it rule the world? Half breed snobbery, no doubt. While that Chevy engine was solid, the car didn’t have technical panache under the hood. Iso was a small company and couldn’t gather enough steam to take the world by storm.
I remember about 20 years ago, the prices for Iso Grifo’s were very reasonable, downright cheap. Those days are gone. While it’s still affordable for an Italian exotic, you can expect to spend between $200k to $300k for a nice one.