When, in the early 60s, Renzo Rivolta married race-bred mechanicals by Ing. Giotto Bizzarrini and timeless GT styling from Giorgetto Giugiaro at Bertone, the result was the magnificent Iso Grifo. While most cars carried a blueprinted 5.4-litre Corvette V8, in 1969 the company introduced a 7-litre option.
The big block Chevy L71 engine is one of the world’s greats. In alloy-head, ZL1 form it was the prime engine used in Can Am racing, producing colossal power and only trumped by the turbocharged Porsche flat-12 in 1972. So, equipping the already fast (170mph or so) Grifo with the 400bhp+, ‘standard’ 427 made the car a potential rival to Italian contemporaries such as the Miura and 365 GTB/4 ‘Daytona’.
Externally, 7-litre Iso Grifos can be recognised by the tall ‘box’ on the bonnet and were produced in very small numbers. Gooding & Company, which will offer this car at its forthcoming 20-21 January Scottsdale, Arizona sale, states that just 66 examples were built. And, of that figure, it is understood that chassis 920.242 is one of only six delivered new to the USA.
Completed in March 1969, it was the very first 7-litre that came to America and stood on the company’s stand at the 1969 New York Auto Show. It was then sold, via GT Motorcar Corporation of South Norwalk CT, to the chairman of the Textile Rubber & Chemical Co., F. Harvey Howalt Jr. of Dalton GA who ran the car for almost a decade.
Having benefited from a mid-80s restoration it was then used sparingly on ‘special occasions’ - as the catalogues states - until passing into the current owner’s hands in 2002. This time, a complete restoration was commissioned and the seven-year process resulted in the show-standard car you see here, superbly finished in Viola Negro, a typical colour of Italian sports cars of the time.
Completed in 2010, the big block Grifo has been shown at just two concours events: Concorso Italiano and Avila Beach, earning Best in Class at both.
The car will be offered next January at Gooding’s two-day sale during the Scottsdale, Arizona sales week. Estimate: $350,000 – 550,000.