These cars have been leapfrogging certain Ferraris, Aston Martins, and more in their value climb.
An article recently published by Bloomberg has people talking about the Iso Grifo, a classic Italian car the publication says has been “going gangbusters during COVID.” That description certainly is enough to generation attention, especially for those who are looking for the next big collector car, yet they haven’t heard of Iso before. Even if you’re just interested in something you don’t know much about, or are just looking to refresh your memory, read on for an explanation about why the Grifo is so special and fetching top dollar these days.
Most likely you’re familiar with Rivolta’s work in the Isetta, the bubbly car where the entire front is a door, a design which was sold to BMW later. Rivolta took that cash infusion from BMW and decided to aim higher with a GT car, which was the Iso Rivolta revealed in Turin back in 1962. From there it was a natural progression to creating the Grifo, a two-seater which was revealed in 1963 and hit the market in 1965. Production wrapped up after 1974.
Enthusiasts have typically responded well to Italian bodies with a burly American V8, which is exactly what you get in the Iso Grifo. More specifically, the body was designed by Bertone, which reportedly the man referred to as his masterpiece later and it’s easy to see why. The car used the 327ci small block V8 from the Corvette. As for the transmission and chassis, those were designed by Bizzarrini. Considering the car could hit 165 mph, the Grifo was just as capable as Ferraris of the time.
During its production run, the Iso Grifo was made in several variants. One of the most sought-after is the A3/C, which was the competition spec. Among the changes to the car was mounting the engine aft 16 inches, technically making it a mid-engine layout back when such a thing was novel. A mere 22 of the Iso Grifo A3/Cs were made.
While not quite as desirable as the A3/C, the Iso Grifo A3/Ls made from 1970 to 1974 are another favorite of collectors. Unlike the other model years of the street spec version, these had a longer nose and hidden headlights, a look greatly preferred. Called the Series II with production reaching 78 cars versus 322 for Series I.
While there were about 400 Iso Grifos made for street use, it’s estimated about 160 were scrapped thanks to the tendency for that beautiful Bertone coachwork to rust like nobody’s business, a problem common with other Italian cars of the time. Rarity almost always pushes values on the market ever higher, unless we’re talking about something highly undesirable like a Lada.
As the Bloomberg article points out, it’s hard to get a fix on how much most Iso Grifos have been selling for recently since the vast majority are private transactions, not public auctions. However, we do have some auction examples to provide somewhat of a measure. A 1963 Iso Grifo A3/L prototype was auctioned by Gooding & Co. in 2018 for $1.76 million. Given the rarity of the car since it wasn’t a production model, that amount is on the high end, as demonstrated by the $362,500 a 1968 Iso Grifo Series I snagged when it crossed the block with the help of RM Sotheby’s. That’s more on par with current market analysis of the value of these cars, although that has been on the rise. But we’re not seeing any evidence the Iso Grifo has taken off during the COVID-19 lockdowns, so we’re chalking that up to Bloomberg editors wanting a click-generating headline as well as others wanting to pump up interest in the cars, which probably worked.
Check out the Bloomberg article here.