My Car Quest

January 31, 2023

The Iso Grifo – A Legend – Part Two

by Mike –

At the Turin Show in 1963 the Iso Grifo A3/L was the main attraction at the Bertone stand and the new Iso Grifo A3/C was on the Iso stand. Iso introduced two great cars at the same show! The Iso Grifo – A Legend – Part One is here.

Iso Grifo A3/C

The competition version of the Grifo is called the Iso Grifo A3/C (C for Corsa). This is a different body design than the A3/L and Giorgetto Giugiaro, of Bertone, was again responsible for the styling. It has a lightweight riveted aluminum body and everything about this car is designed to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Iso Grifo A3/C Art by Giugiaro

Iso Grifo A3/C Art by Giugiaro

The Iso Grifo A3/C is a continuation of Giotto Bizzarrini’s work at Ferrari where he was the engineer responsible for the Ferrari 250 GTO. He was even more aggressive in pushing this design to the limits – the engine is pushed much further back than the GTO, the Iso Grifo A3/C is lower to the ground and the aerodynamics are much improved over the GTO. I suspect that it would be difficult to push a V12 as far back as Giotto Bizzarrini was able to push the Corvette V8 because of the different lengths of each engine.

Iso Grifo A3/C

Iso Grifo A3/C, No. 202

The Iso Grifo A3/C is low to the ground, lightweight, used under the car aerodynamics and the engine was pushed so far back in the chassis that it is a front-mid-engine placement, the distributor is under the dashboard and a panel on the dashboard is removed to access the distributor.

The result is almost a 50/50 weight distribution front to back. The door sills contain gas tanks for improved weight distribution and increased fuel capacity. The Iso Grifo A3/C has a top speed of 170 MPH – great for the long straight at Le Mans.

During 1963/64 only two of these Iso Rivolta A3/Cs were built: Chassis #201 and #202. They were constructed and assembled by Giotto Bizzarrini for Renzo Rivolta, president of Iso.

Iso Grifo A3/C Race Car

Iso Grifo A3/C, No. 202

Iso paid all the expenses and sponsored the racing activities of Giotto Bizzarrini at that time.

From chassis #203 to #222 the model name for these cars were changed by Giotto Bizzarrini. Sometimes they were called Iso A3, Iso Bizzarrini, Iso Grifo Stradale, or Grifo 5300.

The nose badge below was on the original two Iso Rivolta A3/C cars. You can see this badge on the No. 202 car above.

Iso Grifo A3/C Logo

You can see in the nose badge below, used later by Giotto Bizzarrini, the intermixing of the Iso brand and the new Bizzarrini brand. I have heard that Renzo Rivolta, president of Iso, did not like the use of his brand in this fashion.

Iso Grifo A3/C Logo

Below is the cover of a sales brochure for “Bizzarrini Grifo 5300 Berlinetta”. Renzo Rivolta did not approve of the use of the model name Grifo for a Bizzarrini marque because Iso also had a car with the Grifo model name.

Bizzarrini Grifo 5300 Berlinetta Brochure Cover

Bizzarrini Grifo 5300 Berlinetta Brochure Cover

No. 0222, below, won its class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1965. The combination of the Iso team of engineers and craftsman and Giotto Bizzarrini led to a Le Mans winning race car and the beautiful and fast cars we have today that carry the Iso A3/C, Iso Grifo and Bizzarrini GT 5300 badges.

Iso Grifo A3/C Bizzarrini

Iso Grifo A3/C, No. 222

The Iso Grifo A3/C became the Bizzarrini GT 5300, starting around chassis No. 223 (or a little later perhaps after Bizzarrini stopped using the Grifo name). Giotto Bizzarrini finally split with Renzo Rivolta, the president of Iso, for good at this time. Part of their split was caused by the misuse of the Iso brand and part was the focus of Bizzarrini on racing when Renzo Rivolta wanted to build and sell top quality GT cars for street use.

Iso Grifo A3/C Brochure

Iso Rivolta A3/C – The Rebirth of a Legend

This stunning car below is an original 1963 Iso Rivolta GT re-bodied as an Iso Rivolta A3/C by Roberto Negri of Bottegone, Iso Restorations in Clusone, Italy.

Iso Rivolta A3/C

Iso Rivolta A3/C Sanction II

Iso Rivolta A3/C

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Bizzarrini GT 5300 Strada

Bizzarrini GT 5300 Strada, No. 0256

The Iso Grifo - A Legend - Part Two
Article Name
The Iso Grifo - A Legend - Part Two
The Iso Grifo A3/C was a successful race car which became the Bizzarrini GT 5300.


  1. A3C and A3L were terms used by Giotto Bizzarrini’s company Autostar. Autostar was a consulting / engineering firm founded by Giotto Bizzarrini after he left Ferrari. The “A” in A3L or A3C is for Autostar the “3” is for the third project that the company worked on. Prior to that he worked on ATS and designing the Lamborghini V12.

    Bizzarrini was starting to get his name or brand on whatever he could early on. A later example of this can be seen on the AMX prototype with the text “AMX/3 by Bizzarrini” painted on the rear of the car. I am not sure Iso knew what the A3 stood for at the time, would be interesting to know though.

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