My Car Quest

October 25, 2014

Coys Sells Iso Grifo No. 001 – “A Very Important And Rare Car” – Really?

by Mike –

Great news from the Coys auction in Essen, Germany on Saturday. Coys found and sold the Grifo prototype #001 for 220,000 Euros (plus buyers commission a total of 242,000 Euros; $332,810; 200,024 pounds sterling).

This is amazing because I have seen the Grifo prototype #001 before and it lives just a few miles from my home in California and it looks nothing like the car Coys sold!

Judge for yourself in the photos below

Iso Grifo For Sale

Coys – Iso Grifo #001 Prototype

Iso Grifo A3/L Prototype

The Iso Grifo That Everyone Else In The World Believes To Be The #001 Prototype

You can see why this is confusing – the Coys car looks like a regular series 1 Grifo and nothing like the car that everyone else in the world believes to be the #001 prototype.

I wrote about this Coys Grifo recently as one of the strange cars at auction in Europe. I did not know just how strange it would be. I pointed out the problem with the chassis number and I sent an email to Coys with no response. I know other Iso club members did the same thing with no response either.

The Coys description of this Grifo did not mention that it was the #001 prototype. This is an important piece of information that should not have been overlooked on the Coys web site but remember they did not spell Grifo correctly either.

A written account from someone who attended the auction

The information below was supplied to me by Chris Lackner the Secretary of the Iso/Bizzarrini Club UK.

His source, who attended the auction, said,

I told Coys this Grifo was possibly a problem, but they ignored me. The German Iso guys told them it was stolen, so Douglas Jamieson of Coys got a copy of the chassis list from Winston Goodfellow’s book, stuck it on the windscreen and got a highlight pen and underlined Grifo chassis 001 – the A3L.

When it came up at the auction Douglas Jamieson said, “there has been a lot of conjecture about the chassis number on this car, but we have verified with the owners club that it is chassis 001, the Grifo prototype, and therefore a very important and rare car”.

I looked at the car on Thursday. The Iso chassis plate has been ground off, then it was stamped B740001 on side of upright. Then an alloy Iso plate was riveted over the grind spot.

My German Iso friends say it is one of two cars that were stolen in Italy many years ago possibly either #119 or #124. It was brought into Germany on B740001 so it has German TUV document.

Mr. Jamieson said “we have verified with the owners club that it is chassis 001″.

I am the marketing and media director for the Iso & Bizzarrini Owner’s Club and I am not aware that any member “verified” this car. Chris Lackner said he told Coys there was a problem with this Grifo just as I did in an email and I suspect many others did too.

The very important chassis number stamp

The Iso Grifo chassis number is stamped on a metal plate that is welded to the right side vertical frame member in the engine compartment. The format of the stamping is consistent for all true Grifos. The first two images below were provided by Chris Lackner and show a correct Iso Grifo chassis number stamp.

Iso Grifo Chassis Number Stamp

Correct Iso Grifo Chassis Number Stamp

Correct Iso Grifo Chassis Number Stamp

Correct Iso Grifo Chassis Number Stamp

Coys Grifo Chassis Number Stamp

Coys Grifo Chassis Number Stamp and Plate

Our eye witness at the auction said,

The Iso chassis plate has been ground off, then it was stamped B740001 on side of upright. Then an alloy Iso plate was riveted over the grind spot.

This appears to be a clumsy attempt to hide the true chassis number of this Grifo.

If anyone knows of a Grifo stolen in Italy a few years ago and never recovered, possibly either #119 or #124, let me know. Send an email to: michael (dot) gulett (at) gmail (dot) com.

This reminds me of the Bizzarrini No. 0308 problem. And remember the Iso Grifo No. 413 issue at Amelia Island recently? Now more than ever buyer beware.

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Sell your classic car on My Car Quest – click here.

Iso Grifo logo

Summary
Article Name
Coys Sells Iso Grifo No. 001 -
Author
Description
Is this really the Iso Grifo No. 001 Prototype? You be the judge.

Comments

  1. Darren Frank says:

    Looks like a matter for law enforcement. Blatant fraud. Owners of the real A3/L #001 should be notified so that their attorneys can pursue.

  2. Incredible this still happens in the internet age! Isn’t a simple Google enough to get all red flags up here? But okay, water under the bridge – the problem now lies with the new owner. Best case scenario for him: Interpol does NOT get involved!

    Otherwise: as soon as he contacts someone in the Iso world for parts, they will tell him to look at the hidden body stamps and he will find out the identity of this (otherwise genuine looking) Grifo. He will then probably (try to) take legal action. However, auction houses have pages full of disclaimers he had to sign – basically acknowledging nothing they say or advertized can be pursued if proven false. Caveat Emptor!! I have professionally been in deals like this, they ended up in court and were thrown out. The auction houses know they get away with this. So read the small print before you attend an auction, better yet, don’t leave your brain on the night stand!

    If the car proves stolen the victim gets a real nice car back for free, lol! We will most likely find out how this one ends.

    • From what I have been reading the auction house was told of the problem but seems to have looked the other way. I don’t care how many disclamers you have in the contract. If you were informed of the problem ahead of time and ignored it I don’t think the disclamers will protect them.

    • Yes but if he looks at the stamping on the body parts they could be two digits off depending on when the car was built ….just saying

      • Of course, we all know the Iso and Bertone numbers are off two in Grifos. But that still means you can find out the true identity of this Fidia-Grifo by finding those stampings. Easier than cake!

      • No doubt the real chassis number of this Coys Grifo can be determined easily by someone who knows what they are doing. The shame is the new owner may lose his car when the owner it was stolen from (or the insurance company) finds out where it is.

      • Is that not why we/you started to warn people once this car’s VIN was exposed? I don’t feel sorry for the guy, it’s like buying a lemon from Joey Donuts – too bad but get it together man.

      • Come on – just because a buyer is not knowledgeable doesn’t mean he deserves to be cheated does it?

        Maybe he doesn’t read My Car Quest, maybe he knows nothing about Iso Grifos (probably like the buyer in Florida of Grifo #413) but that doesn’t mean he should be cheated.

        The auction company has a responsibility to present cars in an honest way. Read the first hand report above from the person who was at this auction – does it sound like Coys acted properly?

      • Absolutely not, you are right and it SHOULD be their task. In a perfect world. So, someone buying a car at auction bears his own responsibility, they are all grown ups and if they want to play cowboy in a big boy’s world they might get hurt. Badly. And no, he does not DESERVE it but it does not make me feel sorry for him. He had all the means at hand to do due diligence.

        And come on, someone who doesn’t know anything about Iso’s buys a 300K car at auction? Isn’t that asking for trouble?

      • Or this could just be the first step of the sale authenticating the VIN, what I mean is that it is put up for sale but the owner buys it back or a shell buys it. Then it is later sold again washing that VIN as legit.

      • Why don’t you show us your birth certificate?

      • Good point – were you born in California or Hawaii?

      • Due to its appearance this Fidia/Grifo there is strong evidence
        that it was still built by Bertone. Not to mix up the individual body parts,
        hood, doors and trunk lid, etc. Bertone had stamped them with the
        appropriate chassis #. Like Maurice said “easier than cake” to find.
        I don’t think they removed all these numbers from the several body parts.
        To find this out we had to see and inspect the car, Maurice knows
        best where these numbers are hidden.

  3. I’m not so sure about the owners of the prototype having a case. Has anyone seen the factory stamps on the first two prototype cars? Were they stamped? Bertone built the first two cars and considered them prototypes that is why the part numbers on the first hundred or so cars are two digits off from the factory. Iso considered them 001 and 002, but Iso didn’t build them. Maybe they have a A3L number? We all know that the two prototypes were 001 and 002 but on paper and chassis stampings it may not be numbered in the typical fashion as all the other Grifo’s. Just a thought.

    • BS but thanks.

      • I am just saying that if prototype 001 was never registered as 001 how could you sue?

      • I don’t care about anyone suing expect the poor guy who bought this Grifo and may someday have to give it up to the owner it was stolen from. And if the buyer really thought he was buying the Grifo prototype he will be very disappointed.

        The owner of the real Grifo prototype has nothing to worry about because no one doubts that he has the real Grifo prototype. He needs to prove nothing.

        This type of problem will be passed along down the line like Grifo #413 was presented years ago as a 7-Liter prototype and now it is a 7-Liter model and neither is true.

      • All the worst case scenario cars popping up for sale now that the prices are so high. I hope the readers understand that these problem cars are really a very small percentage of Iso cars, maybe only 1% correct me here if you think that percentage is off, but in any case it’s a very very small number. I find it difficult for anyone to believe that the car auctioned was the number one prototype. This is a crazy market!

      • Not even 1%, Mike. These are true exceptions but made worse by the prices these Franken-Grifos or -Bizzarrinis are pulling. I predict much crazier things to happen in the future, I just drive mine until the wheels come off so at least they bring me the fun they were intended for. But you have to admit it’s great to follow this craziness, right? 8-)

      • We have seen two suspect Grifos sell at auction in just the past few weeks. I suspect this will continue.

        Also, most of the Bizzarrini GT 5300s for sale on the Internet are fake in some way. Buyer beware.

      • Following these cars for over 15 years it is interesting to see some of these cases, I predict that the rust buckets will be paraded out next , cars that require massive amounts of bodywork all get a few gallons of bondo and a quick spray job.

      • The owner of the A3L stands above all this, nobody doubts his car and he does not need to do anything. The problem lies with the new owner, he might be holding the bag here. Actually, if Interpol gets involved and the VIN change is traced back to a troll in Belgium they might (finally) go after him. He is always the one accusing others of VIN tampering. Unfortunately he DID bring his brain so it will probably be traced back to some shop that doesn’t exist anymore. The entity that changed the VIN could have a serious problem here, not the auction house.

      • OK I can’t follow these posts anymore this is too confusing for this Hawaiian

      • Aloha.

      • Even if the ISO build sheets for the two first Grifo are missing,
        a lot of historic pictures clearly identify the Grifo Prototype.
        Like the ISO Rivolta Racing (A3C) they had the engine approx.
        25cm further back, a unique feature as well.
        Also the front emblem is a unique one showing the horseshoe,
        the ISO script followed by the Italian Tricolore.
        Due to Roberto the chassis no. B740001 is clearly identified
        as the first four door sedan ISO S4 (Fidia).
        There is also another Grifo offered as a 7L at Thiesen in Germany.
        It is a yellow one with very similar features as the #413/223.
        The description says: Special 7L hood done by Diomante.
        Well, isn’t this clear enough???

  4. Well I vote in both states you can do that right?

  5. Just out of curiosity:

    How much would a Grifo bring that is not fake:

    Open headlight Grifo 7L, one of 66 made,
    original ZF 5-speed, only 17 made,
    comes with original Italian title,
    all numbers match according to the original ISO built sheet,
    car is 100% original, in original striking color combination in
    and out, restored to condition “better than new” to quote
    Piero Rivolta, who had seen this car.

    Will the buyer’s market accept such a car or does it have to
    be an incorrect and fake one to be successful?

    Just my two cents

  6. Chris Lackner says:

    I don’t think this “2 chassis numbers off” rule is always accurate. My Grifo 7L is #226/D but nearly all the stampings on various parts say #225, with one #219. As with so many Iso things, it’s risky to make too many hard and fast rules…

    • I agree it’s not always accurate, but it’s close in many instances and always confusing for new owners. I would have to guess some parts were switched at the factory and in some cases post factory, most will never be known which. To answer Gerd’s question I would say 500K + for a 7 litre as these cars move increasingly higher it appears the buyers are less educated about authenticity and looks sell over “correctness”

      • Mike, thank you for your estimate of 500K+ for a real one.
        This would be just 10-15% more than the fantasy 7L 413/223.
        Interesting that looks sell over correctness.
        According to these findings Roberto should offer the white A3C
        as an original 1964 ISO Rivolta A3C, at least this is exactly what
        the ISO build sheet says. Of course it needed a total restoration
        like so many others but otherwise everything is original and period correct.
        Better than a Grifo with an ISO 4 door sedan chassis# and documents.

        The A3C #201 and 202 were damaged and partly destroyed,
        several times. Each of them have already gotten their third complete new
        alloy body and several total restorations. So what is left of the original
        car except the chassis # ? I talked with our absolute ISO expert about
        these A3C. And he even calls them now continuation cars because of
        these just mentioned facts.

    • Simon Vels says:

      I am the owner of #225 and the interieur parts are stamped whit #226
      Maybe they chance the whole interieur frombothh cars.
      Also my #011 has some stamped parts from #6 or #9
      Simon

      • Chris Lackner says:

        Indeed, Simon – I remember that your #225 is stamped everywhere with #226 (my car). I used to wonder if the factory might have thought mine would be finished first, but being the first RHD 7-Litre it took longer than expected to finish? So, yours came out first and got the earlier chassis number.
        Hope you’re doing well!
        Chris

  7. Bertone had their own number stamped on every bodyork they delivered, on the Grifo its placed where the right inner fender meets the outer fender, above the battery. Its usually oversprayed but easy to see if removing a little paint. It should be easy to see the year of production if you have this number.

  8. I would like to urge a little caution here. A lot of what is posted here about what actually happened at the auction comes from maybe second and third hand information ? Mike got told by Chris Lackner who was told by the German Iso club that the car was stolen. Was it really stolen or did they say something like ” We think it is stolen” ? I’m not saying it was or wasn’t but I urge people to post facts or evidence to support what they post especially when they post it is a stolen car. Coys posted the car was chassis # 1 on the windscreen should be supported with a picture etc. Who at the German Iso club said it was stolen ? Yes there seems to be something rotten but can we back up what we are posting somewhere ? Post pics on Varedo ? Is anything getting lost when one person relays it to the next person ? As a owner of a website with forums I urge people to post facts with appropriate evidence backing up what gets stated. A example of why is what if this isn’t a stolen car but it is now on the internet forever that the German Iso club says it is ? If I am the buyer or seller I am going to be pissed. Then what ? I’m not saying that any of what has been posted is not true, just urging caution.

  9. Mike, you’re not going to get any press invitations to any Coys auctions anytime soon it would seem. They acted in bad faith when they sold the car when its history was called into question.

    Thanks for posting it on the Automotive Traveler’s Classic Car Facebook page and I’m posting it on my own personal Facebook page, which right now, has a wider reach. Feel free to comment in both locations. With all the crazy sale prices on cars now coming up at high-profile auctions, this issue of cars having dubious provenance is about to become much more widespread. It’s one thing when it happens when a 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS454 is counterfeited when thousands were built, another thing when the first prototype is.

  10. Mike, does the price of 220,000 euros seem to reflect that the history of this car is already being called into question and sold for a price that reflected this? If there was no question of its provenance, wouldn’t it have sold for a mich higher price?

  11. Georgeg20 says:

    I read every post with great interest. Although I admire the Griffo and the Bizz, I doubt I’ll ever own one in the near future. The true and only question here is “is Coys partially responsible for this fiasco?” The answer is a resounding YES. Big auction houses position themselves as the source for “best of the best” in classic cars. They try their best to instill confidence in merchandise crossing their block. Mike, one of your pet peeves seems to be that the auction houses charge an “arm and a leg” for their services both to the seller and the buyer. I am actually ok with that AS LONG AS the auction houses offers a complete service package for the $$$$ they charge including verification of authenticity. Auction houses will buck at even a slight mention of this as verifying authenticity automatically shifts liability onto them. Interesting to know that any California dealer retailing a consignment unit is liable for the car, but auction houses retailing cars in California are completely absolved of any liability. Furhermore, they act as a barrier between the seller and the buyer offering much more protection to the seller even though its the buyer that brings the cash to the table. Without a buyer, nothing gets sold.

    One interesting statistic would be an evaluation of bogus sales at each of the auction houses and a rating system identifying which auction does the best job of protecting their buyers and which doesn’t. Those that do protect heir clients the best should attract more buyers than those that don’t. Eventually this will lead to auctions taking much more care in representing their offerings. It’s a form of “self-policing” if you will.

    In the early part of my post I opined that auction houses SHOULD shoulder part of the blame, but not the whole blame. The burden should be shared with the seller (who in this case basically swindled everyone involved in the transaction). Some of you may ask “what about the buyer? Shouldn’t the buyer share in all of this by failing to do due diligence?” If the buyer buys a 79 Alfa Romeo Spider represented as such by the auction for $30,000 and realizes that he just overpaid $20k – that’s a buyer’s problem. But if the 79 Spider is announced as the car of any major significance which later proves false, then its the auction house problem for not verifying the authenticity of the claim or for voluntarily/involuntarily misrepresenting the vehicle.

  12. @Mike

    If I ignore everything Coys wrote about this Grifo and if the photos are accurate then I think this could be a fair price. The real Grifo prototype should sell for well over $1 million.

    So, $332,810 for a good condition series 1 may be OK. Last year I sold a series 1 Targa for this same amount but the market price for a Grifo has appreciated since then.

    However, the chassis number problem makes this a very high risk purchase that the new owner may regret, at any price.

  13. This is a interesting thread and reminds me of all the great discussions we used to have on the old original Yahoo site. With the market so strong I think the auction houses become even bolder with their descriptions of cars . What’s the worst case, they take the car back and resale it in a few more months for 10% more? On the other side buyers need to do their homework now more than ever.

    • Georgeg20 says:

      Agreed wholeheartedly. We are not talking some pedestrian models for price of a used civic. Buyer must approach a purchase of these cars as an investment it really is. Any significant investment calls for due diligence – the higher the amount the deeper one digs. I am opposed to shifting buyer’s burden of research onto the auction house in the same way I am against the auction houses taking the stance “well, the seller said so”. Agreed, good thread.

  14. Chris Lackner says:

    When the technical head of the German Iso & Bizzarrini Club, the secretary and founder of the Iso/Bizzarrini Club UK, and of course, the moderator of MyCarQuest all express their concerns about a false chassis number to various Coys’ personnel, then I think there is no excuse for Coys to apparently ignore these warnings. The people mentioned have (modesty aside) many years’ experience in such matters and should at least be listened to seriously. To blatantly ignore them leaves Coys wide open to accusations of fraudulent practice.

    • Indeed. Problem here is (and I repeat) the auction houses have pages of disclaimers and those might come out in the buyers disadvantage. True, I HOPE he will come out unscathed but it all depends on the German law. It’s obvious they misrepresented this car against all warnings from people like us, did we not all see this many times before though? I have literally dozens of examples where an auction house just carelessly copies the seller’s BS and offers it that way. If nothing else this might set a precedent for what auction houses can get away with. I for sure will follow it closely.

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