My Car Quest

February 25, 2024

Why Race An Iso Rivolta?

by Alan Collett –

After 15 years of racing an Aston Martin it eventually dawned on me that the costs of extracting race winning power from an Aston engine were getting to be too great for my budget. I wanted to compete in the pre-1965 Touring Car races, and so my thoughts turned to a Mustang, decent looking and US V8 power.

Although I knew the Iso Grifo and Iso Lele I did not know much about Iso as a brand until I saw “my” Rivolta advertised in 2004 as 410bhp – not for the faint hearted. A circuit test at Mallory Park showed her to be quick with good handling, but evidently rusty and near the end of her useful life. Chassis No. 360223D had been converted into a racer in the 1980s and was at one time campaigned by Fred Moss.

Iso Rivolta

On trailer at Mallory Park

Brought back to the workshop and stripped down the true extent of the rust was revealed, and I was tempted to have the remains crushed and sell the parts to recover some of my purchase price, but love and foolishness took over and a three year rebuild started.

Iso Rivolta

Body in primer showing rust on A pillar

Starting with so little meant that new steel had to be inserted almost everywhere, which helped to make the shell very stiff, and by only putting metal where we had to we kept her light, only about 1,250 kilos.

Iso Rivolta

Iso Rivolta new metal in rear

New wings were obtained from Italy, but a great step forward was buying a parts car on eBay. Shipped over from Texas, chassis No. 350182 had been barn stored for years and now lives on in two Rivoltas in the UK. I took all the exterior trim, instruments, glass, de Dion, differential and suspension parts, and the rest went into the restoration of a road car.

Iso Rivolta No. 350162

Iso Rivolta No. 350162 (barn find)

Once the car took shape I had to decide on colour. The silver made her look too much like a BMW in my eyes and I decided on Giallo Fly, to accentuate the Italian heritage. First the shell was painted white, to give the yellow some life. The drive train was assembled and the hundred and one important tasks picked off as fast as I could earn money to pay for them!

Iso Rivolta

On axle stands

Great care was taken in suspension geometry and settings, new Konis obtained and specially valved, a high ratio steering box made up as we could not find one to fit. The first motor was sourced in California and produced 465bhp, but only for 7 hours after which a dropped valve destroyed most of the motor, but more of that in Part 2.

Finally the first test drive, Brands Hatch one of my favourite circuits, and what a revelation, sweet natured and fast straight out of the box.

Budget is never talked about in my house, which is just as well because if there had been one the multiplier of spend to budget would have been awesome.

So the question is – was it worth it? I will answer that question in Part 2.

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Part 2 is here …

THE AUTHOR: Alan Collett lives in the countryside in Hampshire about 55 miles south west of London. His profession is as a Chartered Surveyor and he specializes in housing investment, advising M&G Real Estate, a subsidiary of the Prudential.

His interest in cars and motorbikes began as a kid, and he drove a 1934 Morgan 3 wheeler as his first car, moving on to an MGA, Austin Healey 100/6 and Mark 2 Jaguar – all when they were just cheap old cars.

His Rivolta came in 2004 to replace an Aston Martin DB2/4 Mark III, which he raced for about 15 years. His road classic is a 1979 Aston Martin V8, which he has owned since 1987. He now keeps just two bikes, a 1971 Norton Commando and a BMW 1200RT.



Iso Rivolta logo

Why Race An Iso Rivolta?
Article Name
Why Race An Iso Rivolta?
This is why the author chooses to race an Iso Rivolta GT.


  1. Thomas M Ollinger says

    What a terrific story. I was surprised at how light weight he was able to make it. With a high preformance SBC it should really fly. I eagerly await chapter two!

  2. Geoffrey Horton says

    Great story. Can’t wait for part two!!

  3. Well it sure looks great and like a super nice job is being done building this GT…Kudos, should be formidable on the track…

  4. David M Lang says

    Great story! Keep it going.

  5. Fantastic story. Looking forward to part 2. Who would ever think to race an Iso Rivolta? I love obscure, oddball choices. ?

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