For industrious automotive artisans and engineers, no time or place was as ripe with opportunity as Italy in the 1950s. Many cars from the era survived thanks to those who squirreled them away in barns, or families who passed down a grandfather’s GT to younger generations. Until recently, they were just old cars. Now, whether they have “matching numbers"—their original chassis and engines—or not, they are highly coveted.
Here is our series of Italian vintage cars you should invest in, from a 52 Siata to a 63 Iso. To start things off here is the 1963 Iso.
Read the full series here.
Iso Grifo A3/L Prototype by Bertone
Like Germany, Italy after World War II had a decimated economy and a population in need of inexpensive transportation. Refrigerator manufacturer Iso (Isothermos), founded in 1939 and restructured as Iso Autoveicoli in 1953, responded to the opportunity. Under industrialist Renzo Rivolta, Iso produced motorcycles, scooters and a tiny bubble car that was also made under license by BMW as the BMW Isetta. With his fortune made, Rivolta hired Giotto Bizzarrini, the magician behind Ferrari’s 250 GTO; stylist Giorgetto Giugiaro; and coachbuilder Bertone to create a luxury GT with performance to rival Ferrari. The Iso Rivolta IR 300, introduced in 1962, was beautiful and practical, using a powerful Chevrolet 327 cubic-inch V-8 engine that, with 340 hp on tap, could compete with anything made at the time. Iso followed with a racier design called the Grifo, produced from 1965 until 1974, when the company folded.
The car shown here is the original Iso Grifo: a one-off prototype with unique coachwork, first exhibited at the 1963 Turin Auto Show. The shape was created by a young Giorgetto Giugiaro, whose time with Bertone produced memorable 1960s designs like the Alfa Romeo Giulia GT.
Bertone began in 1912 in Grugliasco and was guided by Nuccio Bertone after World War II. The company designed prototypes and built bodies for production cars, closing its doors as a family-owned company in 2014. In its heyday, Bertone was a giant, noted for cutting-edge creations. An affiliation with Lamborghini and Maserati cemented its reputation for the avant garde, thanks to Marcello Gandini’s designs for Lamborghini that included the Marzal show car, Miura and game-changing Countach of the 1970s.