Restoration Chronicles: Iso Fidia – Disassembly 3

It’s Christmas time and I have a bit of time to update my site. The work on the Iso Fidia is progressing next to the finish of the restoration of a 1955 Porsche (Pre-A) 356 Speedster. Here you can see how Ricky at disassembly concentrating on the wiring while I tackled the engine compartment. This is the original motor the car was delivered with: a 1969 March 21 casting Corvette L-46 350 V8. The Iso company used very good motors for their cars, this 350 horse L-46 is just one step down from the legendary (mechanical lifter) LT-1. (It only needs another intake, cam and carb – it still had pressed in rocker studs) The heads were the same 2.02 heads as the LT-1 and this motor could really open up!

Through the years several things got changed but nothing I can not reverse back to original. When I inspected the car in 2002 my main complaint was the lower end knock it had when seriously revved and yes – it still had it! 😎 But, it will be rebuilt with better internals than factory – the outside will stay fully stock. Fortunately major items like water pump, manifolds and starter were still the original 1969 units. The transmission is the original Muncie 4-speed and there was a noticeable hard spot in shifting which later showed explained itself once I had it open.

I had to cut up the exhaust system as it was fully welded so did not clear the frame and had the wrong mufflers welded into the wrong position. These engines do not come out easy, it takes 3 people and a LOT of tricks to do this! Especially in Fidias there are clearance problems with the distributor and clutch system, sometimes I ask myself how they did it in the factory. I am specifically showing the motor mounts: these are the original (worn out) units and because of the power steering Iso had to cut a corner off the LH one to make it fit. I found out the hard way 8-).

Once the motor was out, the true scope of what damage a quick paint job can do came out: the gloss black paint covered everything! Not only sheet metal but wiring, relays, brake system, steering – they just shot whatever they could reach. Fortunately, some of the original wiring colors could still be seen. Lots of Mickey Mouse “repairs” which are because original parts could not be sourced.

Now there is a lot of weight off the car, the next items that will be tackled are underpinnings, interior and wiring.

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Getting ready for Pebble Beach Concours d’ Elegance

After a few weeks of preparation, the illustrious 1967 Bizzarrini Strada of my late good friend Gerd Eckstein was picked up today on it’s way to the Pebble Beach Concours d’ Elegance in Pebble Beach, California. It was purchased from Mr. Colosio in Italy and after driving it to the Monza (Italy) race track together I shipped it to his home in California in 2005. He showed it at Pebble Beach that year and again at Concorso Italiano in 2006 – in both places it won it’s deserved prizes.

It has not seen much use in the following years and now it needed some work for the upcoming 50 Year Bizzarrini show. The car had received a (partial) new paint job in its original color around 2000 and we had to put some effort in to revive it so it would be presentable for the show. There were also some mechanical issues which were solved and it was brought back to perfect running and driving condition. This week, Gerd Eckstein’s son Michael and daughter Verena will be driving it on the Tour d’ Elegance so I had to make extra sure the car would give no trouble. Actually, this was the first time it was in the same location as another car Mr. Colosion owned; the most important Bizzarrini Grifo A3/C B0211 – the first car Giotto delivered with the new style rear glass. It seems the world is a small place – especially when it comes to such rare cars.

Today was the day it was picked up and we had to scramble to get everything done in time, Bill the paint detailer was still putting the last work in and even Dixie and Talia helped. It looks radiant and will honor Mr. Gerd Eckstein posthumously by its presence as this is the first time the Iso-Bizzarrini world knows he will not attend in person anymore. Luckily his family keeps his dream alive and make sure his legacy goes on. I’m proud we were involved in it and look forward to seeing a mostly unrestored Bizzarrini with such provenance on the lawn among all the other magnificent cars Giotto left us with. Have a safe trip!

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One Long Lost Iso Grifo – Part 4: Letting Go

After being preserved as well as possible and getting it in the best condition possible without actually restoring it – the time has come to make a decision… After much thought Sam has come to the realization his Grifo 369 is not a car he will ever dare to drive again, especially after it’s recent full recommissioning. Actually, the mere reason this car still exists like this is the fact that he could not STAND people being that careless around it and risking damage in all kinds of ways. So arrangements have been made to offer it to the public and this will be done at THE best venue for that; the Gooding Pebble Beach Auction in Monterey.

Today it was picked up and it was like saying Goodbye to an old friend. This car has taught me a lot about TRUE originality of Iso Grifos and I was able to add 1000s of detail pictures to my restoration library. I hope it ends up in good hands, this car deserves a special place in a high end collection. Thanks my friend and Happy Trails!

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One Long Lost Iso Grifo – Part 3: Resurrection

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!

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Restoration Chronicles: Iso Fidia – Disassembly 2

In the doors the original factory color came out – a for that time highly popular “Oro Antico Metallizzato” or metallic gold. The owner and I quickly decided it was not going back to factory color. 😎 A look inside the doors showed where the external rust bubbles came from – it became clear there was more rust waiting for me. The factory put a tar like coating on the blank sheet metal, however it soon cracked and gave water plenty of opportunities to attack. This is the main reason why most of these S4/Fidias are rusted out and need (very) extensive sheet metal work. Luckily this one is not as bad as most. Obviously the floors got saved by the dry climate this car was used in.

Further dangerous electrical “fixes”, lots of bondo gobs and Mickey Mouse “repairs” with silicone. Many bolts inside the doors were rusted stuck and no WD40 or blow torch made them come out whole. Interesting detail: these cars were painted with the door hinges installed, under them there was no more than a light coat of black primer. Of course this looks awful when the hinges come off. These cars were not meant to exist longer than 10 years, so in fact the ones surviving did very well.

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1967 Iso Grifo For Sale

Exclusively for sale on my site and available immediately is this beautiful 1967 Iso Grifo GL300. The car was the Paris Show Car in 1966 and was uniquely furbished for that event; it is fully documented from new on. The paint color is unique to this car and most insiders agree this particular car was ordered by Mr. Nuccio Bertone himself – making it an Italian delivery Grifo. The car was afterwards in long term Dutch ownership where I saw it in person; a nicely kept and serviced original Grifo with proud ownership. (M. Anderssen) The car is now in the US and has received a very nice repaint and detail work which brought back it’s old glory. It is equipped with the high performance version of the 327 Corvette V8, coupled to a 4 speed manual transmission and 3.07 De Dion rear end. It is a very well handling and driving car and can be enjoyed right away. Many more pictures, just ask. No disappointments on this one! USD 435,000.00.
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Restoration Chronicles: Iso Fidia – Disassembly 1

Starting with the outside bright-work to uncover what was under the paint we noticed soon the interior leather was heavily bleached by the sun – the areas which were covered were red and others were pumpkin colored. This told me they used furniture leather instead of bespoke car upholstery leather – an expensive mistake (or cost savings at the upholstery shop).

By taking off the door panels it became clearer the paint job on this car was very quick and cheap and many shortcuts had been taken to make it LOOK nice. This also revealed its original color, a metallic gold which was popular in 1969 but not so much now… The paint the previous “body man” put on had a pink-purple hue to it, probably done to match the interior color better. It’s also obvious no “difficult” parts were taken off, they just blew the new paint over everything. You can see Iso’s solution to the door wiring ducts – regular rubber hose which (of course) would break after prolonged use.

Check out the oil stain on my test cardboard after just sitting for a day – it leaked not just at the engine (dark spots) but also transmission fluid so the drive train had to come out and be worked on. It started to look like a serious undertaking more and more…

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Happy Father’s Day

Hoping all my fellow dads had a great Father’s Day! Here are some pictures from the Rodeo Drive Concours that was held today in Beverly Hills.

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