Iso Rivolta is Back!

On our MMR daytrip to Monza, we were puzzled yet excited to find two brand new ISO Rivoltas. This led to a lengthy conversation with a group of enthusiasts whose story we share with you now.

In 1964, the ISO Autoveicoli SpA of Bresso, Italy, famous for the design of the Isetta "bubble car" of the 1950's, launched its new model, the ISO Rivolta A3. The company also commissioned engineer Giotto Bizzarrini to build 22 racing versions which were called ISO Rivolta A3/C or competition models. When Rivolta abandoned the racing project, he allowed Bizzarrini to continue building these under his own name, and they became known as the Bizzarrini GT Strada.

With bodies designed by the then young Bertone stylist, Giugiaro, and powered by Corvette's small block 327/365 engines, ISO Rivoltas had pedigree. They also had a de Dion rear end and Jaguar disc brakes. Both were highly desirable engineering features of the day.

Renzo Rivolta died suddenly in 1966 and control of the company passed to his then 25 year old son, Piero Rivolta. Sales slowed and the company was sold in 1973 to an American investor. The company declared bankruptcy in 1976.

At that point, with the help of Piero Rivolta, the former ISO engineer, Roberto Negri, took over the remains of the company. This included all the documents, construction drawings, chassis and entire car bodies, and formed his own company called "Il Bottegone". Its purpose was to maintain a parts supply to existing owners and to restore the original cars.

Several years ago, Piero Rivolta asked Negri to determine whether sufficient parts existed to build more original A3/C's. It was determined that they could build five original cars that could be registered under the existing original ISO documentation. The engines are period Chevrolet engines with stamped ISO numbers and build dates of between 1963 and 1966. They were shipped to California where their compression ratios were lowered and they were otherwise modified to accept modern fuel. They still use four side-draft Webers.

Californian Gerd Eckstein is an ISO collector who is overseeing the building and marketing of the remaining available five models. Two have been built and both were at monza. Three more are being constructed. The unpainted vehicle pictured here was completed for presentation at the European Vintage Cup races. The painted version sat beside it.

As with all good stories, there is a lot more to this one than we can do justice to here. For more information about the history of this fascinating car, we refer you to Winston Goodfellow's book, ISO Riivolta: The Men, the Machines. The book was updated in 2009.

For more purchase information about the cars, please contact Gerhard (Gerd) Eckstein at eckos10@hotmail.com