Iso Grifo | Isotta Fraschini

Isotta Fraschini was an Italian luxury car manufacturer of luxurious and prestigious cars, as well as trucks, and engines for marine and aviation use. Their motto was “Import, sell, repair”.

The company was founded in Milan in 1900 by Cesare Isotta and the brothers Vincenzo, Antonio, and Oreste Fraschini.

Isotta Fraschini produced one of the first cars with four-wheel brakes, and were early pioneers of overhead cam engines. They introduced the Tipo 8, the first production automobile to be powered by a straight-eight engine, at the Paris Salon in 1919 and began delivering them to customers in 1920.

With the growth of the wealthy middle class in North America in the 1920’s, Isotta Fraschini marketed deluxe limousines to the new American aristocracy. Early film stars drove Isotta Fraschinis and many films and books of the 1930’s and 40’s era featured these exotic cars.

Isotta-Fraschini promised that every car could do 150 km/h (93 mph). The car was very luxurious and it cost more than a Model J Duesenberg. Around one third of these cars were sold in the United States.

Seriously affected by the economic crisis of the 1930’s and by the disruptions of World War II, Isotta Fraschini stopped making cars in 1949. Only five of the last model, the Tipo 8C Monterosa, were produced. 

Attempts to revive the company in the 1990s failed and the company finally closed in 1999. 

The Iso Grifo is a limited production grand tourer automobile manufactured by Italian Iso Autoveicoli S.p.A. between 1965 and 1974. Intended to compete with Ferrari and Maserati GTs, it utilized a series of American power trains and components supplied by Chevrolet and Ford.

The first production GL models (series I) appeared in 1965 and were powered by American Chevrolet Corvette small-block 327 (5.4-litre) V8’s fitted to American supplied Borg-Warner 4-speed manual transmissions.

In 1970, the Grifo Series II appeared, with sleeker styling and hide-away headlights, powered by big-block Chevrolet 454 V8 (7.5-litre) engines. 

It was replaced in 1972 with the Grifo IR-8, which utilized a small-block Ford Boss 351 engine (5.8-litre) as its power train.

This was the last Iso of any type, as the manufacturer went bankrupt and eventually shut down and ceased all operations permanently in 1974. The bankruptcy had a number of causes, perhaps the largest being the 1973 oil crisis which significantly reduced demand for cars with large V8 engines.