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Iso Rivolta
Fate bankrupt
Founded 1953
Defunct 1974
Headquarters Bresso, Italy
Key people Renzo Rivolta, founder
Industry Automotive
Products Automobiles, Motorbikes

The motor company Iso Rivolta was an automobile and motorbike manufacturer, predominantly active from the late 1940s through the early 1970s. They are known for the iconic Isetta 'bubble car' of the 1950s, and for a number of powerful performance cars in the 60s and early 70s.

Contents

History

Iso Rivolta was initially named Isothermos and manufactured refrigeration units before World War II. The company was originally founded in Genoa in 1939, but was transferred to Bresso in 1942 by Renzo Rivolta, an engineer and the heir of industrialists. The business was refounded as Iso Autoveicoli S.p.a. in 1953 to reflect the production of motorized transport. Renzo Rivolta died in 1966, and his son, Pierro, took over as managing director.[1] At the start of 1973 the Rivolta family ceded the business to an Italian American financier named Dr Ivo Pera who promised to bring American management know-how to the firm:[2] the business was again renamed to Iso Motors, just before fading rapidly into obscurity.

Two prototypes were shown in the 1990s, however, neither reached production.

Early Years: Motorcycles

After the Second World War, the company reopened its doors, completely changing its activity. In 1948 it began to build motorcycles, scooters and motocarries (three wheeled transport scooters/motorcycles). Among the most famous are the Furetto (1948), 'Isoscooter (1950),' Isocarro (1951), 'Isomoto (1954) and' Isosport (1953). The last Iso motorcycle was presented as the Iso 500 in 1961. Isomotos were known as expensive, but durable and well-built.

1950s: Isetta Bubble Car

Iso Isetta Turismo
1967 Iso Rivolta IR 300 GT Coupe
Iso Grifo A3

In the mid-1950s, he started to develop a miniature car for two persons and front entrance, initially with only three wheels, later, for reasons of stability, with four wheels (the two on the rear very close together): the Isetta Bubble Car. About 20,000 of the bubble cars were built at the Rivolta works near Milan, but this volume was dwarfed by that of the German licensee[1]

Starting in 1954, Isetta was licensed to automobile manufacturers in several countries: France (by VELAM), Spain, Great Britain and Brazil (by Romi). The most successful, however, was the German Isetta built by BMW. The BMW-Isetta fulfilled the dream of mobility in post-war Germany and about 130,000 had been sold by 1962.

1960s: Performance Cars

Together with engineer Giotto Bizzarrini, designer Giorgetto Giugiaro and chassis builder Bertone, Renzo Rivolta began developing the Iso Rivolta IR 300, which was first presented at the Torino Show of 1962. It was an elegant 2 + 2 Coupé with well-balanced technical components and outstanding driving performance.

The 5.4 L V8 Chevrolet Small-Block engine and the transmission came from General Motors in Detroit, and the de Dion suspension and four wheel disc braking system came from the large Jaguars of the time. This concept was maintained for almost all production cars of Iso. Starting in 1971, Ford 351 Cleveland engines replaced the GM small block.

Iso Rivolta's most well-known Gran Turismo automobile was the Iso Grifo which featured a low, slung, sporty berlinetta body by Bertone. After Bizzarrini left the project, this prototype formed the basis for his own Bizzarini 5300 GT. The Grifo Prototype was further refined by Iso, receiving a reworked, less aggressive and more luxurious body in the process, and went into production in 1965. The Grifo was powered by Chevrolet´s 327 cubic inch (5.4 litre) V-8 producing either 300 or 350 hp. In 1966 a convertible version of the Grifo was shown, but never reached production. Starting in 1968 the Grifo was also available with Chevrolet's 427 cubic inch big-block V-8; this version was known as the Grifo 7 litri and was easily recognized by the broad air inlet on the hood. Later-day Grifos, the Series II, featured concealed headlights and a slightly modified front area.

After the sudden death at Milan on 20 August 1966[3] of Renzo Rivolta, his son Piero became the director of Iso Rivolta, aged only 25 then. Under Piero's leadership, Iso built the limousine Fidia, "the fastest four seats on wheels" (Advertisement, 1967) with body by Ghia, the Grifo 7 litri (with the GM V8 7 L marine engine) and the 2 + 2 fastback Coupé Lele (1969) with body designed by Bertone, intended as the successor to the IR 300. Iso Rivolta went bankrupt in 1974, only 1.700 Iso Gran Turismos had been built in those ten years.

Today, Piero Rivolta and his wife Lele live in Sarasota, Florida. His son Renzo is leading Rivolta Marine, his daughter, Marietta, is in the management of Zagato Centrostile, Milan, Italy, she is married to Andrea Zagato.

ISO Models

Years Model Power Top speed Notes Image
1953-1955 Isetta - - Iso Isetta.jpg
1962-1968 Iso Rivolta IR 300 300 PS (221 kW) 215 km/h (134 mph) Iso Rivolta 1969.JPG
1964 Grifo A3 L 350 PS (257 kW) 210–275 km/h (130-171 mph) Iso Grifo A3 L 1.JPG
1966-1973 Grifo Lusso GL 300 300 PS (221 kW) 190 km/h (118 mph)  
1967-1974 Fidia 300 / S4 300 PS (221 kW) 220 km/h (137 mph)  
1967-1974 Lele 300 300 PS (221 kW) 230 km/h (143 mph) Iso Lele in profile in London.jpg
1970-1974 Grifo 7 Litri 406 PS (299 kW) 300 km/h (186 mph) Iso Grifo a FrankfurtM.JPG
1970-1974 Grifo Can Am 395 PS (291 kW) 270 km/h (168 mph)  
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Prototypes

  • 1972 prototype Iso Varedo
  • 1993 prototype Iso Grifo 90
  • 1996 prototype Iso Grifo 96

References

  1. ^ a b "Marbles and Motors: Trying a new luxury Iso". Motor: page 30–32. date 1 March 1969. 
  2. ^ "Road Test: Iso Lele automatic". Motor: page2 2–7. date 27 April 1974. 
  3. ^ "News and views: Renzo Rivolta". Autocar 125 nbr 3680: page 454. 26 August 1966. 

External links


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