I have had the long lost Iso Grifo #369 in my shop and I treated the car to a “sympathetic recommissioning” by not altering the car’s appearance but just cleaning it by retaining it’s (most coveted) patina. By now we all realize this word has been misused in many places, however, this car BREATHES it! The car came to me with the front fenders full of the small “mechanics dents”, the main reason why Sam (the second owner) parked the car decades ago. To correct this I hired a friend who is a specialist in this field and flies all over the world to help owners of special cars out. He is a person who does not use any paint, but “massages” the sheet metal and makes the sheet metal come out perfectly straight. He did exactly that and the fenders look like factory originals now…
The second person I hired was a detail specialist who first assessed the paint and told me what to expect. He found a few old repairs, probably from small dings (door) and rock chips (valance areas). At some edges there were some touch ups done a long time ago, the present ones were left to add to the character of the car. He suggested to hand-polish the paint and make the repairs disappear as much as possible. So he spent 4 days on a stool in my shop; NO machines but all kinds of polishes, rags, cleaners and waxes. When he was done the car truly showed off its 22000-kilometer heritage! There were no areas overly “restored”; he put it back as one would expect the factory would have delivered it. What I was most excited about was to have found a Grifo with bone stock gray metallic body parts on it – after detailing these parts I was able to extract the correct color code which I will use for my current (and future) Grifo restorations! The color is a medium charcoal but holds 4 different colors of metallic flakes – very fine but visible with a magnifying glass under sunlight. Right, I didn’t hold it there too long! 😎
While the exterior was being detailed I had an interior specialist go through the interior to mainly restore the original leather and corduroy. The leather was still supple but did have some aging signs and a bit of discoloration in the driver’s seat edge. He was able to make it all come out beautiful, when you open the doors on this car it feels like you’re in 1974!
The trunk compartment held the highly coveted Iso tool roll, Bettani jack, fully original upholstery and an even more awesome find: a spare wheel which has never been mounted! The original Cinturato tire is like new and never touched the road! So the trunk compartment was easy to clean up and put back to the year 1972.
The engine compartment needed more cleanup work, obviously old oil and oxidized parts. Several parts were missing their (black) paint and we decided to not repaint them but preserve the parts as they are – just clean them. The engine got serviced, a few new tie rods were installed and the car now runs and drives like any restored Grifo I handled.
Some repairs I did: the vacuum headlights did not open; they were connected wrong after a solenoid locked up – I put new bellows in and they now work perfectly. The door windows did not work and it turned out some “mechanic” had tried to re-use the brittle (Ducellier) motor gears and (of course) they failed again – leaving Sam wondering if they could do ANYTHING right to his Iso! I DO give the “mechanic” some credit for his inventiveness though, I included his “good for ten minutes fix” of the gears with steel wire and resin… Looking at the picture; I’m glad Sam did not give him more to work on! It does have 2 (non-audible, small) holes in its exhaust system but I don’t see it my task to change anything on it – it still carries the (now non-existent) Iso-stamped chrome muffler tips. One of the many revelations Grifo 369 brought us by just existing.
The car is still in my shop to assist in another project I’m dealing with: to restore a client’s Iso Grifo who’s sheet metal has been badly mangled by an accident, but even more by the welding job afterward. That car is missing it’s original factory dimensions and Sam’s Grifo 369 is very happy to offer it’s perfect body for all kinds of cardboard take-offs.
I have made known to the Iso-Bizzarrini community that this car still exists and for all of them this is the first time they laid eyes on it. Only 5 or 6 of them ever saw it in person but they rave about it (as they should). A true miracle how it could go undetected all these years, especially in this condition. Sam should be hailed for how respectful he treated his car, he is the one who kept it and made the word “survivor” mean too little for a car of this caliber. It now gets driven occasionally and it will probably be shown at the Supercar Sunday next week – it’s first non-work related outing in decades. I’m looking forward to it!