1965 Iso Grifo A3 COMPETIZIONE
Coachwork by Drogo
Chassis no. B0213
Engine no. 129-F12183Q
Coachwork by Drogo
Chassis no. B0213
Engine no. 129-F12183Q
327ci OHV V8 Engine
4 Twin Weber Carburetors
420bhp at 5,400rpm
4-Speed Manual Transmission
4-Wheel Independent Suspension
4-Wheel Hydraulic Disc Brakes
*One of the first twenty Drogo-bodied Aluminum examples
*Restored in 2012 by Bizzarrini foreman Salvatore Diomante
*Shown at the 2013 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance
*Featured in road test with Paul Frère in Auto Motor und Sport magazine in 1965
THE ISO GRIFO A3 COMPETIZIONE
Renzo Rivolta was one of the more ingenious entrepreneurs of the Italian postwar landscape. Mr. Rivolta was the owner of the Isothermos refrigeration company, but, after the war, he decided to follow his passion and branch off into automotive manufacturing. The visionary started with motorcycles and then introduced the Isetta—a wildly successful mass-market economy car that he eventually licensed in full to BMW and other companies. By the early 1960sRivolta's interests had turned to touring cars, and he introduced the Iso Rivolta GT at the 1962 Turin Auto Salon.
One of Rivolta's key recruits to his fledgling company was the famed Giotto Bizzarrini, the gifted engineer who had played a pivotal role in the development of Ferrari legends like the Testa Rossa and the 250 GTO. After the so-called Palace Revolt of 1962, Bizzarrini left Maranello and soon found employment as a freelance contractor, taking a significant role with Iso.
In an effort to spur sales, Bizzarrini and others encouraged Rivolta to build a sports car, and the engineer soon received the go-ahead to develop such an Iso on a shortened Rivolta GT chassis. The resulting Iso Grifo was introduced in two versions at Turin in November of 1963, with the luxury touring A3/L (for lusso) displayed on coachbuilder Bertone's stand, while Bizzarini's race-prepped A3/C (for corsa) was presented on Iso's stand.
Wearing aluminum coachwork penned by Bertone's Giorgietto Giugiaro and built by Piero Drogo's Carrozzeria Sports Cars in Modena, the A3/C was a spectacular vision with aerodynamic flair. The results were an impossibly low and wide car that was exotically curved from every angle. In an effort to avoid the complications of engine production, Iso utilized a 5.3-liter Chevrolet Corvette engine in all of its cars, which was tuned for racing in the A3/C. The big-block motor was sunk far behind the front axle, giving the car a competition-worthy mid-engine layout that optimized weight distribution. According to some historians, Bizzarrini described the A3/C as the second coming of his GTO, and a more refined one at that.
Logistically, Bizzarrini provided full build execution for the AC/3 at his factory in Livorno, while Iso and Bertone took on production of the Grifo A3/L. To Rivolta's thinking, the Grifo was just a tool to promote his GT car, but Bizzarrini was ever consumed with racing, and a widening philosophical gap inevitably developed between the two men. After perhaps just 20 examples of the Drogo-bodied A3/C's were made, Bizzarrini left Iso altogether and continued to produce the model under his own name—the 5300 Strada. While production totals are somewhat uncertain, it is believed as few as 115 examples were made under both names.
Part of the A3/C's transition from an Iso product to a Bizzarrini standalone involved a change of coachbuilder from Drogo to Salvatore Diomante and his Carbondio concern, which was eventually reborn as Autocostruzione SD of Torino. Diomante is the rare craftsman who not only helped build the original cars of the 1960s, but has become the world's foremost restorer of these cars. His efforts have helped preserve and document the short run of breathtaking A3/C and 5300 Strada examples, giving Italian sports car enthusiasts an opportunity to experience the most developed versions of Bizzarrini's original.
THE MOTORCAR OFFERED
Like many cars made under the Bizzarrini mantle, chassis no. B0213 does not possess a clearly documented history. However, the car is believed to be first referenced in factory paperwork on December 15, 1964, and both the body appearance and the chassis numbering suggest that this A3/C is one of the first twenty riveted aluminum-bodied examples produced by Drogo. Also referenced in the paperwork, are records between Bizzarrini and Carrozzeria Sports Cars.
B0213 was retailed in early 1965 to Auto Becker in Germany, and B0213 was featured as a test car in the April 1965 issue of Auto Motor und Sport Magazine, driven by legendary racing-driver Paul Frère. Ownership soon passed to Swiss scrap collector and privateer racer, Pierre De Siebenthal, who by some accounts served as a Bizzarrini factory driver. De Siebenthal was known to have owned and raced various Bizzarrini-made cars during this period, and though there is no documentation proving that this car was ever used in such a way, it may very well have been driven in some of the owner's campaigns. In any event, it is quite clear that he retained possession of B0213 for many years.
In 1993, after decades of ownership, the A3/C was sold by De Siebenthal to former Livorno principal Salvatore Diomante. Diomante would show the car, pre-restoration, at the Auto Moto Retro show in Torino, before he eventually rebuilt the motor to his latest specifications and refinished the rare Drogo body. Upgrades included the addition of four Weber carburetors mounted on a Diomante manifold, which was a development of the Campagnolo manifolds that were originally equipped in period.
After completing restoration in 2013, the A3/C was purchased by the consignor, who then showed the freshly restored car at the 2013 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance.
Upon close inspection, it is evident that Diomante has exercised characteristic skill in his restoration, leaving the car in a stunning state of condition, and equally prepared for further vintage racing use. Now equipped with drilled competition pedals, the Diomante intake manifold, and Schroth 4-point racing harnesses, this muscular A3/C is perfectly prepared for hot laps.
Offered with the sale of B0213 are many historical documents, including an original copy of the April 1965 issue of Auto Motor und Sport, various receipts and paperwork from the 1993 sale from de Siebenthal, as well as a signed testimonial of authenticity from Salvatore Diomante. B0213 is an arresting vision of sports car engineering in its purest form, delivering both race-worthy performance and a visceral appearance. This piece of automotive history would make a crowning addition to any sports car collection.
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