My Car Quest

June 21, 2024

Prototype And Production – A Few Differences For The Iso Grifo

The Iso Grifo A3/L Prototype sold in Scottsdale at the Gooding January 2018 auction for $1,760,000. Gooding also has an early Iso Grifo (No. 009) coming up for auction in Monterey. The estimate is: $500,000 – $600,000.

I thought some of you might like to read this again – or read it for the first time.

This was originally posted in June 2015.

by Mike –

There are a few design differences between the Iso Grifo A3/L prototype and the production Iso Grifo GL, which is to be expected.

Prototypes are designed to look great and to impress all who see them at the car shows when a new model is being introduced as well as to help work out the bugs for the production version.

Iso Grifo A3/L Prototype

1963 Iso Grifo A3/L Prototype

1966 Iso Grifo GL

1966 Iso Grifo GL

The Iso Grifo A3/L certainly did it’s job when it was introduced in 1963 – it made a big splash both for Iso and for Bertone. It was widely praised on the new car show circuit. However, when it was time to go into production Iso decided to make a few changes, some to save money and some to make the car better.

Here you can see some of the differences between the one and only dark silver Iso Grifo A3/L (No. 001) and the blue Iso Grifo GL (No. 101), which is my Grifo. There were 100 Grifos made between these two beauties and a grand total of 402 Grifos were made not including the Grifo A3/C models.

There were some design changes implemented over the years most notably the front end change to what is called the series two covered headlight style. There are some variations of the engine, from the Corvette 327 cid, Corvette 427 cid (7-Liter), a few with the Corvette 454 cid and finally the Ford 351 Cleveland engine.

Iso Grifo A3/L Prototype

The unique hood scoop and the louvers on the prototype are quite different than the production hood with the small, elegant bulge.

Iso Grifo hood

Iso Grifo A3/L Prototype interior

Iso Grifo A3/L Prototype Interior

The steering wheel button, which seems to be made of wood on the A3/L, and the gear shift lever are the most noticeable differences to me in the interior. I do notice that the parking brake handle is in a different location, the wing window knob looks like it came from an Iso Rivolta GT, the ash tray is missing in the A3/L, the door handle is different and the electric window switch is on the door in the A3/L, where it is on the center console in the production model.

Iso Grifo GL Interior

Iso Grifo GL Interior

Iso Grifo A3/L Prototype door handle

Iso Grifo A3/L Prototype Door Handle

The beautiful door handle on the A3/L looks very similar to the series one door handle on the Bizzarrini GT 5300. The button on the production Iso Grifo looks similar to the series two Bizzarrini GT 5300 door button.

Iso Grifo GL Door Button

Iso Grifo GL Door Button

Iso Grifo A3/L Prototype rear view

Iso Grifo rear view

Iso Grifo A3/L Prototype exhaust pipe

The side air grille and especially the treatment of the side exhaust pipes are quite different, notice the bulge above.

Iso Grifo side of car

Iso Grifo A3/L Prototype roof

The A3/L roof has a beautiful metal band, maybe polished stainless steel, going over the top and the little mirror like device behind the windows where the production GL has a body colored metal over the top and air vents behind the door windows.

Iso Grifo roof

Iso Grifo A3/L Prototype rear view

The A3/L has the vent over the left fender and what looks like a vent on the right fender. There is, however, a gas tank filler cap under the right fender vent as on the production model. The production model has a key lock for access and the A3/L does not. I assume that the A3/L has a cable release for the gas cap cover.

It is also fascinating that the A3/L has the vent on the left fender because we know that the first several production examples did not have this vent as we saw in Iso Grifo No. 009.

Iso Grifo rear view

Iso Grifo A3/L Prototype front view

There are many differences in the front end style as you can see from these photos. You can also see from the painting below that Giugiaro changed his mind on some features between the time this painting was made and when the A3/L was made. Look closely at the hood.

Iso Grifo front view

Iso Grifo A3/L Prototype painting by Giugiaro

Iso Grifo A3/L Prototype Painting by Giugiaro

Iso Grifo A3/L Prototype from angle view

Iso Grifo front angle view

Iso Grifo A3/L Prototype side view

The sides views show some of the differences – look at the vents behind the rear wheels.

Iso Grifo side view

Iso Grifo A3/L Prototype rear angle view

Iso Grifo rear angle view

Read about the history of the Iso Grifo here.

Let us know what you think in the Comments.



Iso Grifo A3/L Prototype Logo

Iso Grifo logo

Prototype And Production - A Few Differences For The Iso Grifo
Article Name
Prototype And Production - A Few Differences For The Iso Grifo
A visual comparison between the Iso Grifo prototype and the production model.


  1. Wallace Wyss says

    I’d like to hear about how the Grifo Prototype was found in Cal. I vaguely recollect a cowboy star owned it out in the desert who had made films in Italy. Though Clint Eastwood was a spaghetti western star, and fan of Italian cars, he lived up North so it couldn’t have been him. The finder was a co-founder of the Iso-Bizzarrini Owner’s Club of which I was a member. But when he found the car he already had a buyer, John Ling a car restorer who redid the nose, which had been crunched and rebuilt with a production nose. Like to hear what that cowboy sold it for or how he happened to buy a factory prototype., an opportunity that doesn’t come to many people….

  2. Peter Gale says

    There were many differences under the hood too. The engine was set back about 6 inches or so from production. The throttle linkage came up from under the engine, and up the front of the block, “pulling” the carb linkage from the front.. The firewall was ” notched” for distributor clearance, and the hood extended over the notch. Hood latches are different, as well as brake master cylinder location. The Battery is in front of the engine, and the rad is closer in style to a Bizzarrini, than the production Grifo. The brake reservoir is different, as are the hood spring perches. The wiper motor is in a different location too.
    Another difference in the interior, is the peddles. They are floor mounted ala Bizzarrini, not steering column mounted, like the production cars.

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