Restoration Chronicles: Iso Fidia – Finish and preparation for 2020 Pebble Beach presentation.

I’m writing this update while Fidia #120 has been delivered and is awaiting the 2020 Pebble Beach Concours d’ Elegance presentation. This will be the first time there will be an official “Iso – Bizzarrini” class at this most prestigious event. Showing how much respect our brand has gained in the eyes of serious collectors.So I will now describe the last chapter in the Restoration Chronicles of this Iso Rivolta Fidia serial number 930120. And the car still showed some serious teeth even though it was the finishing phase! I would first like to show the presentation I gave to the public at Concorso Italiano last year – where I showed the car partially finished.It was indeed a spectacular presentation where both esthetically and technically inclined visitors got what they wanted. Mr. Piero Rivolta himself admired the car and remembered that these were his personal preference.After this show the finishing stage was entered. Now, all the installed parts had to be made functional and especially, the car had to start driving. First it went to finish the interior. The leather we chose was specially made according to the small independent company Iso used: Franzi. It is a beautiful blood red of a superb quality and it took quite some time at the upholsterer to finish it. Fitting seat belts were fabricated to match the hue and shine. I had to get it back partly finished because several electrical components had to be tested before we could button her up. The newly restored Becker Mexico Stereo cassette radio (with optional factory amp) was installed and for that the dash needed to be altered a bit.And as expected, of COURSE components like fuel gauge sender went bad when first driving it, great idea to not completely finish the interior yet!

The door seals as Iso used them were very special, they were hand sewn together from two separate pieces, to make them hide the rivets in the chrome roof molding. These were impossible to find so I tried to get the closest possible, which in turn made the doors become impossible to close right. It literally took months before the seals settled enough to make the doors close well enough.

The original trunk material was deteriorated so I had it reproduced according to old samples. The tire cover is not installed to show the detail even in the trunk area.

The custom radiator got painted and fitted and took away the fear of the car overheating again. The original radiators were just not adequate enough, this is now an aluminum cross-flow unit and keeps the car cool even with the air conditioning on. The A/C was finished and worked great – as far as Iso’s system Can work. For a big 4 door car like this it is adequate though, I drove it in 105’ San Fernando Valley weather and it kept up real well. Until it didn’t… It seemed there was a problem with the York compressor and after the (warranty) fix it never gave any trouble again. I wanted to keep the original (matching numbers) Quadrajet carb and after rebuild it just didn’t want to run perfect – at all. So I took it off numerous times to improve it bit by bit – I didn’t want to surrender and just buy a new one. The more I drove the car, the better it worked. I also wanted to keep the OEM fuel pump but after a lot of test miles it gave out on me so I had to go with a new one – the OEM GM one will stay with the car.New headlamp covers and scuff plates were fabricated, the car was coming together. The “griffon” wheel centers had been rechromed badly before and were too thin because of rust from within so I decided to fabricate new ones. I will describe the process at another time but basically I had a hardened “griffon” die made in which I hand formed brass plates and had them chromed after I put the correct dome in them.

And now they shine with like-new detail!The (stainless) front bumper didn’t have too much damage when I got the car but the rear one had been repaired and it took me many hours to get that to fit as it should. The problem with these stainless bumpers is that they are very thin and they warp very easy so I had to cut off the brackets, fit the bumpers “neutral” and weld on the brackets in that position again. Luckily the stainless welding rod matched the bumper metal perfectly so no weld is visible.One thing I always URGE my clients to do now came in very handy! I tell them to make sure there is an emergency pull on both the hood and trunk lid, too often it happens that the main wire breaks. Well guess what??? The trunk lid cable broke and if it were not for the emergency pull I hid in the left taillight I would have had to cut the trunk floor open to gain access… So I’m glad I follow my own advise!! 😎After I was able to drive the car regularly certain items needed improvement, like the position of the breather tube in the air cleaner – something never made for the Iso setup.

I was able to take the Fidia to it’s very first cars and coffee on its own power. It was at the beautiful Malibu Beach C&C at Paradise Cove, put together by the late Andy Cohen. It was this Fidia’s first C&C and Andy’s last one as he passed away a few days later… I remember him walking up to me when I wasn’t even at the parking lot saying this was one of the first 4-door Italian cars on his event and whether he could jump in. Unfortunately he didn’t. Here is a picture of the car’s first presentation – still without rear bumper and passenger seat.After several successful test drives I turned the car over to the upholsterer and we buttoned the car up together. The hardest part on these is the center console – a nest of ALL wiring and very prone to shorts. I had taken precautions by extending all wiring so the lid could easily be taken off, still it took more than 2 days to consider the job done. After all the interior was in I was finally able to install the beautifully restored wood door panels! It’s extremely tricky work, to adapt every hole exactly to the tiny screw it attaches with.All had to be hand drilled, not a job to take lightly because one slip and it’s all over. But it came out wonderful and the following picture shows what I mean by that.I was then fortunate enough to drive the car to my friend Pete and officially deliver it to him. It was a moment we all awaited for a long time and the end of a very fun journey. Next up is the Pebble Beach Concourse d’ Elegance where it will be one of the very few S4/Fidias on the lawn. When you see this car there, remember that it has been restored as close to factory specs as possible: all nuts and bolts, washers and screws are restored OEM units and sit in the exact same position as it rolled off the factory floor with. If any Fidia can be used for authenticity purposes, this one is it! Leaves me to thank the owners Mark and Pete for their trust in my humble shop and skills and I’m sure I’ll see the car around a lot around Southern California!

Restoration Chronicles: Iso Fidia – Introduction

I have had several requests from people to start a blog about my work and here is my first attempt to do so. It will be challenging to stay at it so we will see how far we get with this… I’d like to start with the Iso Fidia I have been working on for some time and is now in very advanced stages of its restoration.

An Iso Fidia (and it’s early version S4) were cars built by the now defunct company Iso Rivolta S.p.a. in Bresso, Italy. They were advertised as “the fastest four-doors on the planet” and priced as high as a Rolls Royce and found their way into the hands of (very) well-heeled buyers only. This is one of the reasons why the production number did not even meet the 200 mark. This, of course, makes them now very rare and finding good examples does not happen very often. The early cars were powered by a Corvette 327 V8, later ones got a Corvette 350 V8 and the last few cars before bankruptcy were powered by the Ford 351 Cobra Jet V8. The car in my shop is the rare 350 V8 4-speed version with all option boxes ticked when ordered new by a client in Italy. It was delivered in May 1970 and was purchased by a doctor in California around 1995. It used to be gold metallic in color with a tan velvet cloth interior, the main things that got changed during its life time.

Here is the car when I first saw it in 2002. A Dutch friend (Marvin) had me do a PPI on the car when it was offered for sale in Van Nuys (airport). I got to inspect and drive it on the runway only because it was not registered, the seller had two hangars full of classic cars he seldom used. The car itself was pretty nice and rust free; however some things were changed and the engine needed work. Marvin ended up not buying it and it was sold to another friend here in Socal. Here are my first pictures of my inspection of the car back in 2002.

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