When people think Iso, they usually have in mind the tiny Isetta Bubble-Car, which was also produced, under license by BMW. Indeed, this is how this Italian manufacturer got started. With the success of its small, economical cars, Iso decided to enter the more stratospheric GT market with the Rivolta, which had some success, but it wasn’t until the 1963 Iso Grifo that it really hit pay dirt. Built on an integral steel box section chassis and sporting disc brakes all around, the Grifo was powered by Detroit V8 iron and was meant to challenge Ferraris, Maseratis and other supercars. It sported a very distinctive design, with a pinched nose and unmistakable hood scoop.
The Grifo was not powered by an Italian engine, but rather by the awesome power of the Chevrolet Corvette engine, which produced 300 horsepower, and later by a 7-liter version of the same, pumping out over 390 horsepower. The version of the Grifo could reach a very impressive 170 miles per hour, and accelerate to 60 in 6 seconds.
There’s a reason, however, that you don’t hear about the Grifo, or Iso for that matter, so often: its because it didn’t know how to adapt, and was crushed by the fuel crisis, closing its doors in ignominious defeat in 1974. The 1963 Iso Grifo remains a very capable road car, and is appreciated both for its rarity as well as its road qualities.