One of the most beautiful sports cars of the 1960s, the A3C Grifo and its eventual racing variant, the Bizzarrini 5300 was about more than just looks. The competition version won the large displacement GT class at Le Mans in 1964 and 1965, a testament to the mechanical sophistication, aerodynamic efficiency, and durability of the car.
When architecting his beautiful and impressively fast Iso Grifo, Renzo Rivolta relied on one of Italy’s greatest automotive engineers, Giotto Bizzarrini, who designed the Ferrari 250 GTO and Testa Rossa prior to leaving Ferrari in the famous “palace revolt.” Mr. Bizzarrini designed the Iso Grifo with the necessary elements for success: the stout, reliable and easily tuned Chevrolet small-block V-8 engine and 4-speed gearbox from the Corvette, a welded-sheet platform frame, sophisticated suspension, and a lightweight and aerodynamic body. Compared to the Corvette, it was significantly lighter and featured technical innovations that even the most exotic cars of the era could not better. The resulting car was a true race car for the road that looked the part, with the roofline standing a mere 43 inches above the pavement.
Built initially as the Iso Grifo A3/C and later as the Bizzarrini 5300, fewer than 150 of these cars were made, but their looks, performance, and pedigree secured them a place as one of the most desirable Italian cars ever made. Consequently, it is no surprise that when Zagato acquired Iso Rivolta in more recent years, it was the A3/C that they chose to honor with their all-new model, the Iso Rivolta GT Zagato (GTZ). As with the original, the GTZ uses the powertrain of a Corvette, specifically the 660hp LT4 from the C7 Z06 and superb 8-speed transmission with paddle shifters. Also retained are the enormous carbon ceramic brakes. From that basis, the car undergoes a 2,500 hour transformation at Zagato’s facility in Milan, Italy.
Aesthetically, the car is completely re-imagined with carbon fiber bodywork that honors the stunning Giorgetto Giugiaro designed original yet still looks incredibly contemporary. This reduced the weight of the car and no panels or exterior components were shared with the Corvette. The glass, lights, door handles, and wheels are unique to the GTZ and are either fabricated in-house or built by suppliers to Zagato’s specifications. Finished with typically Italian Zagato flair, the car boasts more luggage space than its donor, an important consideration in what is designed to be a grand tourer in the great European tradition.
Zagato has limited production of the GTZ to just 19 examples, of which this was the first car commissioned and spent two years in the making. Finished in Le Mans red tri-coat metallic, the car draws inspiration from the Le Mans class-winning A3/Cs of 1964 and 1965. The exterior paintwork is complemented by a charcoal Italian leather interior with contrasting red stitching. Upon completion, the car was shipped over from Italy and displayed at The Quail Motorsports Gathering during Monterey Car Week in 2021, where it won its class. With approximately 100 miles, the car is in stunning condition. It is also the first GTZ to arrive in the United States, and given the lead time and backlog for these cars, it will be the only one in the Americas for at least a year, guaranteeing a level of one-off exclusivity that makes even the most exotic offering from a legacy manufacturer look pedestrian by comparison.