Renzo Rivolta was born into a family whose core business was milling wood and related products. As such, Renzo grew up with an appreciation not only of nature and beauty, but also machines, speed, and precision. He eventually bought a manufacturer of refrigerators and heaters called Isothermos, which later pivoted towards making scooters and motorcycles post WWII in an effort to provide Italians with more affordable means of transportation. Eventually, Isothermos (which had shortened its name to Iso) leaped into the world of manufacturing automobiles, producing the Isetta, now famous as a result of BMW's licensed production of the quirky little car. Rivolta, however, had his sights set on something much more grand; to produce the most stylish, innovative, luxurious, comfortable, and perhaps most importantly reliable Grand Tourers the world had ever seen at the time. Iso (now renamed Iso Rivolta), introduced their first GT - the IR 300, built to compete with competitors such as Maserati & Ferrari. Amazingly, Iso cars were built using American engines and transmissions, styled by Giorgio Giugiaro (Lotus Espirit, BMW M1, DMC Delorean ring a bell?), and engineered by Giotto Bizzarrini (one of the key players in the Ferrari 250 GTO). What's not to like? In 1963, Iso unveiled the two cars seen here; the Grifo A3 L designed to be a more luxurious GT, and the Grifo A3/C (corsa or competizione), intended for racing. Interestingly, the difference in the two models and the consequent objectives of the two cars eventually led to the split of Bizzarrini and Iso.
The Iso Grifo A3 L launched with a 327cu in Chevrolet V8, mated to a 3 automatic or 4 speed manual transmission also sourced from Detroit. Towards the end of its production, this was updated to the big block 427. This green example is one of those, just one of 15 built with the big block and a then-available five-speed transmission.
The Iso Grifo A3/C has a slightly more interesting story; while it shared the same 327cu in powerplant and running gear, Bizzarrini developed the A3/C with a tubular space frame and a curvaceous aluminum skin draped atop. Bizzarrini considered the A3/C his own, an evolution & successor to the 250 GTO he previously worked on. In fact, after Bizzarrini and Iso parted ways, Bizzarrini continued to manufacture the A3/C under the name Bizzarrini 5300GT. This stunning example finished in bare metal with exposed rivets is actually not a true A3/C; rather a reconstruction built with original parts to exact specifications. It was even reviewed and approved by Rivolta's son, Piero.