The Fidia was driven to my shop and the owner and I went over it, assessing the main points we had to tackle. The car looked very nice from ten feet, had good paint and nice contrasting interior and very nice brightwork. At closer inspection several rust bubbles showed up, it became clear the paint was very roughly applied (and cheap quality) and the interior had an “off” color throughout. In sunshine exposed places the leather was pumpkin color, in hidden areas it was red. The engine (very) obviously needed a rebuild and the engine compartment showed a (very) quick glossy black paint job over pretty much everything that did not need any paint. The car appeared very solid with the main rust in the corners of the doors and rear valance. We agreed that I start to dismantle it and see if I need to do a full restoration or can maybe get away with a partial one. I only offered that because the car looked really honest and it has a long known California history. The disassembly started the week after it got to my shop…
I received a call from “Sam” last summer, he stated he owned an Iso Grifo of more than 40 years and wanted me to see what his options were because he did not want to drive it anymore. I highly doubted his story because he told me he lived very close and in any normal case I would have known (about) this car. I asked for the serial number, he didn’t know it… I asked more questions and it seemed he was indeed describing a Grifo and not another Iso model. I made an appointment to come over the same week and this is what I saw when his garage door opened.
The car has been stored for decades, just moved to his new house in 2012. And there it sits; a 23000 Kilometer 1972 Series II Iso Grifo! One of a few built in this configuration: 350 Corvette engine with ZF 5-speed transmission, 4-bolt Teknomagnesio Campagnolo wheels, and Air Conditioning. Everything original: sheet metal, (most of the) paint, interior, engine, hoses, chrome, tires, exhaust system – even the air in the spare is what was put in at the Iso factory in Italy! All rubber parts had brownish goo on them and there was light surface rust on chassis and engine parts. We agreed I would recommission his car in my shop and see what he thinks when I’m done.
The Fidia was driven only very seldom for the next decade, it attended some local (Los Angeles area) shows and in 2012 trailered it to The Quail in Monterey for the Iso Rivolta celebration. Ricky drove it onto the podium and it was introduced by Mr. Piero Rivolta himself. Even though Isos were flown in from overseas for the event it was the only Iso Fidia present, that should tell you enough of this model’s rarity.
It was really the first time I saw the car again up close and it did show some (more or less serious) signs of aging as the previous paint job was not all too stellar. The carburetor acted up and we had the fire extinguisher handy just in casebut all went well and it got a lot of positive comments, mainly because very few people ever saw one in the wild. It was trailered back and it again sat for some time before the owner decided to restore it and bring this Fidia back to show condition and that was when I came in…
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.