My Car Quest

October 21, 2020

Three Iso Grifos For Sale At Auction

by Mike Gulett –

It is rare to see three Iso Grifos for sale at the same time but that is what we have now. These three span the Iso Grifo model range, are in different auction venues and are up for auction by RM Sotheby’s.

I have written before that we seem to be in a period of lower prices for some collector car models.

It will be interesting to see how these three Iso Grifos do in the open market. One has already just sold for a price that seems low to me.

Here they are:

1967 Iso Grifo GL Series I

Iso Grifo GL Series I

This Iso Grifo just sold at the RM Sotheby’s auction in Paris on 5 February 2020 for €275,000 ($300,928 USD) including buyer’s fees. This seems low to me based on the description and the photos.

RM Sotheby’s writes:

– Chassis No. GL 640068

– Offered from the Poster Car Collection

– Originally owned by Righteous Brothers founding member Bobby Hatfield

– Cosmetically and mechanically freshened in the mid-2000s

– One of 200* Series I examples built and 413* total examples

It was sold new to Bobby Hatfield, one of the original singers of the famed rock and roll band The Righteous Brothers, whose hits included ‘You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin ” and ‘Unchained Melody’. As confirmed by a placard that remains affixed to the Grifo’s dashboard, Hatfield commissioned the well-known Kustom Kulture luminary George Barris to finish the exterior, and it is believed that he painted the coachwork metallic gold, as suggested by paint samples discovered during a later refurbishment.

Looking at the photos I see a few items that are not correct but they are cosmetic and easily corrected. Does ownership by one of the The Righteous Brothers make a difference in value? And does custom work by the famed George Barris make a difference?

I say no to both because Bobby Hatfield is not known as a car guy and George Barris messing around with what is expected to be an authentic collector car is likely not good for value. It’s not like it is the Batmobile.

See more photos here.

1970 Iso Grifo GL Series II

Iso Grifo GL Series II

There is not a price estimate range posted yet. This Grifo has been for sale by a St. Louis dealer for a few months at a very high asking price. This Grifo will be auctioned at Amelia Island on 6-7 March 2020.

RM Southby’s writes:

– Chassis No. GL 050336

– 1970 Turin Motor Show car; prototype for the series II Grifo

– One of only 23 examples equipped with the five-speed ZF gearbox

– Believed to be the personal car of Piero Rivolta

– Documented in Isorivolta: The Men, the Machines by Winston Goodfellow

– Beautifully restored throughout

With total production of just over 400 units, any Iso Grifo is a rare beast indeed. As a prototype 1970 Turin Motor Show car and personal transport of the managing director, it must surely rank as one of the most significant examples of any Grifo.

It is interesting this writer has a different number (over 400)* for total number of Grifos made than the writer for the Paris car (413). Over 400 is closer to correct.

If this Grifo is “fitted with a thicker wood rim steering wheel” it is not apparent from the photos. And the write up says, “the dashboard is fitted with a distinctive wooden “ISORIVOLTA” plaque”, yet the photos show a metal ISORIVOLTA logo that has appeared on other Iso Cars. The Griffin logo on the trunk lid is not correct instead the Iso Grifo script logo should be there.

I would insist on documentation proof that this Grifo was owned by Piero Rivolta if that is part of the buyer’s valuation consideration.

See more photos here.

1968 Iso Grifo GL Series I

1968 Iso Grifo GL Series I

There is not a price estimate range posted yet but it is Offered Without Reserve. This Grifo is part of The Elkhart Collection to be auctioned in Elkhart, Indiana on 1-2 May 2020.

RM Sotheby’s writes:

– Chassis No. GL 810191

– Engine No. TO812MG

– Restored by Iso experts Roberto and Federico Negri

– One of only six produced with a Pavesi sunroof

– Tastefully upgraded to the ultimate “7-Litri” specification

– Equipped with factory air-conditioning

– Veteran of the 2016 Copperstate 1000

This is all that is written so far by RM Sotheby’s. I notice from the photos it has an automatic transmission, maybe they should have mentioned that. This Grifo is a Series I that originally came with a small block Corvette engine and is now fitted with a big block Chevrolet engine simulating a 7-Liter model along with some (but not all) of the cosmetics of a 7-Liter model.

It will be interesting to see what price this configuration brings. I suspect it is a blast to drive, although it may not appeal to an Iso purists who wants all originality. The first thing I would do is change out the Lamborghini wheels for correct Iso wheels either Borrani wire wheels or my first choice is Iso Campagnolo magnesium wheels (or modern aluminum replicas).

See more photos here.

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Footnote:

* The number of Iso Grifos built (413) is not correct. Almost all sellers, even sophisticated auction companies, get this number wrong because they do not realize that Iso brought 10 Grifos back to the factory and rebuilt them, changed the chassis number, and re-sold them as new.

The correct number of actual Iso Grifos built is 402 plus the one that was not finished when Iso shut down and was later finished by Roberto Negri then stamped with the serial number 413 which was the next number in sequence. This is where many people get the idea that there were 413 Grifos made because that is the last serial number known. The fate of Grifo No. 413 is another story.

There were a total of 321 Series I Iso Grifos made including the 7-Liter and Targa models. I do not how they came up with the number 200.

You can read a brief history of the Iso Grifo here.

Iso Grifo logo

All car photos compliments of RM Sotheby’s.
Summary
Three Iso Grifos For Sale At Auction
Article Name
Three Iso Grifos For Sale At Auction
Description
It is rare to have three Iso Grifos for sale at auction in the same time frame yet here they are - all at RM Sotheby's.
Author

Comments

  1. Chris Lackner says

    Having originally been a show car (1970 Turin) it’s quite likely the Griffon on the trunk was there originally. My old 7-Litre was the 1968 London Show car and it certainly had a Griffon on the trunk lid, as can be seen from photos taken at the show.

  2. Thanks Chris,

    In the photo you posted it looks like the Iso Grifo script is also there.

  3. I saw that 1967 Grifo had an estimate of only E200-250 which seemed very low and surprisingly it did sell for only E275.
    At the same auction there were 2 Maserati Ghiblis SS 4.9s from the same collection that also had very low estimates, E130-170, and E150-200. The first one sold below estimate at E126,500, and the second one sold for E166,750. These 4.9s have regularly sold in the mid 200s. And given that these prices include the Buyer’s premium, the Seller only got approx. E114k from the first one, and minus the Seller’s premium, the Seller probably netted a little over E100k.

  4. Goggle “Easiest Job in World–Sleazy 70s car adverts” owned both a TVR (naked models at London Auto Show) and and a Iso Grifo but unfortunately don’t remember attracting to many female fans.

  5. wallace wyss says

    I am glad these are not resto-modded except formthe one with a later enginr. I don’t mind resto-modded if it’ a car they ade a lot of (over 7000 Panteras for instance( but when you get down to the lo numbers of Grifos produced every one modified with flares, different wheels, tires, trans, etc, then it no longer reprseents the cars as they came from the fsctory. If a magazine were to do a road test between the old one and a current car, the old one wouldn’t really be “old.”

  6. Mike, I can assure you that the yellow Grifo (#191) is an absolute blast to drive. It will always be Theo’s car to me, he had it built according to his taste and he wanted it to be unique, outrageous, fast and comfortable. He got all that, especially with the rare sunroof. Actually, the latest owner did not do the car a favor (in my humble opinion) because he changed the gorgeous (outrageous) blue interior to a boring tan which does not stand out with this exterior color. (Aside from the wrong stitching patterns) I too am curious to see what other people say, maybe this is the kind of Grifo that should have kept it’s wild blue interior to stay in the “outrageous” realm?

    Fortunately for any future owner most of Theo’s alterations can be easily undone. For me absolutely the best of the three Grifos you listed today.

    • Maurice,

      I remember seeing photos of this Grifo when the interior was blue and I agree with you that the blue is way better. Tan can be such a dull interior color. This Grifo would be a great one just to drive (after the wheels are changed).

  7. Glad you think like me, Mike. Here is the car with it’s previous (beautiful!) color combo.

    BTW, it’s taken some serious digging and it is my/our belief that exactly 400 Grifos were total (uniquely) built, including all the 2 protoypes and factory rebuilds/rebodies.

    • Maurice,

      As you know my number of Grifos made comes from a detailed reading of Winston Goodfellow’s book. I would love to hear your new details of 400 instead of 402 Grifos made.

      • Indeed, we all can only go by the list Winston, Gerd and Axel made that infamous day/night when they copied the factory build sheets. But Gerd and I have gone over these numbers time and again and concluded that the total count came to 400. The main difference sat in the cars with 11 missing/altered build sheets and 8 unknowns. In short the list is:

        Series 1: small blocks 256
        Series 1: big blocks 66
        Series 2: small blocks 20
        Series 2: Can Am 24
        Series 2: 351C 34

        We had them further broken down in body- and transmission types but this is the gist of it. I never found any proof against this list but I’m sure it will be scrutinized like General Relativity. 😉

        • Maurice,
          It would appear you have experience with a lot of these Grifo’s. I have heard that some Grifo’s have sold for over 700k in private sales. What is it that brings the big money for some these cars, rarity, originality, etc?

  8. Wow, that is stunning in blue! It clashes with the yellow, perfectly. I think I would have painted the car before I would’ve changed the interior.

  9. SKIP HINOJOS says

    I HAD TWO BIZZARRINIS, ONE ISO, AND COULD HAVE HAD A GRIFFO FOR $4500, 20 YEARS AGO. HIND SIGHT IS A KILLER.

    • Looks like the estimate on the Series II is 500-550k. The question for Mike and Maurice, no doubt the big block series I would be a blast to drive, but would you guys buy it being the car was originally a small block configuration?
      Like Mike said, I’m sure Iso purists could very well have an issue with this, and subsequently value it accordingly.

      I have also witnessed that high end astute collectors will pay a premium for originality. The market would appear has softened to a degree, however the truly original cars ( few and far between) will always command a premium to the sophisticated discerning buyer.

      • Anil,

        Yes, the Series I 7-Liter replica (the yellow one) is definitely a desirable Grifo at the right price as long as the buyer knows what they are getting and are happy with the price. It should not be the same price as an original 7-Liter but still it is a real Iso Grifo. As I said I would change the wheels and drive it a lot.

        • I agree with Mike, this is a desirable object no matter the customization. I would love to have the car because of it’s (Dutch) history and it’s rarity, change only very little. However, if I were to RESTORE it I would absolutely go for bone stock. Back to small block even as I think that is where the value in Grifos is, similar to most Ferraris.

          As for price on this one: most customizations can be reversed and what you end up with is a very clean Grifo with the extremely rare sunroof option once owned by famed real estate mogul Maurits “Maub” Caransa. (The last probably only for Dutchmen a big deal) The fact it is an original automatic might not even impact it’s value.

  10. Mr. Kirk, looking at “comparable” cars and their desirability/value I must say that two factors play most in this: their beauty (subjective) and their rarity (fact).

    Beauty: Like most Grifo owners I very well remember seeing one for the first time in person and being blown away by the design. And having owned many other cars since, the Grifo still holds the place of most refined; beautiful and exciting design ever made. There are a few cars that come close but most of them are in the multi-million Dollar range. So in that realm the Grifo isn’t really all that expensive. I corresponded a lot with a well known designer who reads this blog and he assured me my view at the Grifo’s design is dead on. So I’m not alone in this. 😉

    As to rarity; low production exotics are more valuable than regular production cars – that is just a fact. I grew up in The Netherlands and even there they were a very rare sight, only 9 were sent there when new. Most went to Germany (130) so we were more familiar with them than Americans, reason why they are still relatively unknown here.

    You mention originality. The cars I restore will be brought back to AS original as possible, those cars are being respected the most and this bring the highest prices. Because they were cheap decades ago (ask Skip) people “customized” them and drove value even lower. As of now, they are being restored in the same manner as Ferrari or Lamborghini; very close to factory original and according to the car’s history. I just did an original 5000 Mile Grifo (the lowest mileage Grifo on the planet) for a client and brought it back to the condition of a 5000 mile car, no full on showroom restoration. Here originality counts more than absolute perfection.

    And what I always held as a very important factor is their high quality of finishes, Iso did not skimp on anything with their Grifo and working on these proves that time and again. These are of way better build quality than say a Ferrari Daytona, let alone Dino. Of course the cost to mechanically maintain our Grifos is minimal compared to exotics with Italian drive trains. And lastly, they drive extremely well and I talked to many previous owners who want one back after driving another exotic. So all this makes the value of a Grifo right where it is now and who knows where they will go once people get more familiar with them..

    • Thank you for the thoughtful reply Maurice. I know that you have been in possession of some fine Iso’s, like #369, and #405, and that awesome dark blue Fidia. So as I understand it the collectors market puts a higher premium on true originality then they would an (eye candy) level 1 car? I guess they are only original once.

  11. Maurice…What is your opinion about the first car mentioned that sold for E275. Did it sell for unusually good value given the average prices of Grifos this past decade?

    Thanks

  12. Mr. Kirk, it’s a sign of the times. People are used to see gorgeous fully restored cars and there is nothing wrong with them, just that in a way it takes away their built-in-over-the-years character. Sure, some cars really need a ground up restoration but the ones who have been well cared for might just need a bit of help to get them presentable again. In 2007 the Pebble Beach Concours d’ Elegance added their “Preservation Class” for post-war vehicles and that showed the new trend towards preserving over restoration if possible. Because preserved cars are much rarer than restored ones their values often rise above the restored ones, yes.

    Philip; that was Grifo #068 like Mike described. I remember seeing the car here in the US decades ago and it was a normal “driver” with several odd additions. I understood when auctioned it was a decent solid car (as seen from the outside) and needed pretty much everything redone to make it better than average driver quality. If that is true the price was fair, a good basis for a well deserved restoration.

    The problem with Grifo is they are not stamped bodies, they are hand crafted and had only minimal rust protection so (hidden) sheet metal work on these can get very expensive. Ask me how I know. 😉 Due diligence is needed in that aspect but it seems #068 did not have that issue – probably because of it’s Southern California heritage.

    • Diamonte Randal says

      Due diligence is uber important when buying a collector car! Hiring an expert like Maurice is a small price to pay to know what you are buying. Even if you are seasoned in this area, an advocate and a second set of eyes(opinion) can be invaluable.

      Maurice what are you working on now? My friend Steve caught your bronze Grifo at Cars & Coffee in southern Calf, and subsequently won’t shut up about it. Also, saw the Fidia you had in Malibu..

      • Thank you; that bronze Grifo was a joy to bring back to life, I learned a lot from that car and made good friends because of it.

        The blue Fidia (pictured) was the first one I ever fully restored and man, did it get me hooked! I also learned how weak their bodies are and how intricate their details in finish. (Read: nothing fits off factory 😉 ) It’s signed up to go to Pebble Beach this year and because I don’t know of any other Fidia ever been there we’re all stoked about that!

        So now I’m working on a very rare glass sunroof Fidia which was previously restored by Hill & Vaughn but then parked outside and wasted away. It is originally fly yellow and has the high-horse 327 with a Muncie 4-speed and A/C. Also an automatic Fidia in the works and of course the “normal” stuff like a couple of Grifos. Actually one is the rare Targa version which hopefully gets accepted to Pebble Beach this year where Iso will have it’s special class. So I’m not bored! 😉

        • Diamonte Randal says

          Thanks Maurice, sounds like you always have your hands full.. That is a sweet Fidia, I love the color! I’m sure the owner would have no problem selling it. The Fidia’s are so rare, and when you do see them, they are never done to the 9’s like this fine car. Did you restore Grifo 406?, other than the two very original low millage small block series II’s you refurbished, that one is one of my favorites!

          • Yes, that car is total eyeball! You can’t see the paint very well here but it’s a dark blue metallic which works perfect with the red leather. The owner doesn’t even THINK of selling. 😉

            You might be talking about Grifo 405? I only did a sympathetic restoration on it but because it was parked for 38 years it was not a job as easy at it sounds. Grifo 406 is a different one and I never worked on it. It’s in the hands of a long time owner in California, is very cherished because of it’s family history and one of those cars that will probably stay in that family for the foreseeable future. It is red with a black interior and also a 351C with 5 speed, very nice car.

        • Diamonte Randal says

          Smart man for never selling that awesome Fidia! I was actually talking about 406, I think it is Mr. Pepp’s car? I agree it is a very nice example. I thought you possibly restored it. I also like 369 and 405, hard to believe these cars were hiding for so long..

        • Diamonte Randal says

          Maurice,

          I noticed that #391 is also for sale from a dealer asking 500k, restored in Holland no less. Looks similar to #336 above. Also a really nice looking small block Grifo IMO!

          http://www.autosportdesigns.com/inventory/stock/5475/iso-grifo-series-ii-1972

          • I’m not one to torpedo cars or sellers but obviously the seller of Grifo #391 doesn’t have a CLUE about the “restoration” this car received in Holland. It was an absolute botch job and if any interested party needs to know more they can contact me privately – I have the pictures to prove it. Roberto wanted to do a fine job restoring it but wasn’t given the green light to do so. Debita Diligentia!

        • I actually inquired about Grifo #391, and was told the price was 400k, not 500k. Car looks decent from the pics, but possibly a 20 footer.. Now the price makes more sense. Before I buy my next Grifo, I’m calling you Maurice for the blessing, and to do a PPI!

          • John, actually no – the car has great eyeball (except for the dull leather). The problem lays in what you can’t see… I could refer you to a few current Grifo owners who found out the hard way what you can’t see. These cars just have the inherent problem of (heavy) rust and all potential buyers need to go the extra mile having that checked before a purchase is done.

          • I would obviously rather have some visual defects opposed to hidden problems that were designed to cover up various issues. It is really to bad that collectors and enthusiasts pay this kind of money and find out the hard way. Proper due diligence with a steward of the ISO community like yourself seems like a no brainer. Thanks for the info Maurice, as your knowledge Is invaluable, and your insights are appreciated! I will be in touch when I find the car that gives my heart palpitations. 😎

          • Maurice once referred to a somewhat altered Fidia that I was considering to purchase as a “Fat Dog”. That sums it up.

          • Will be interesting to see the price #336 fetches this coming weekend. 🙂

        • Pedro’s says

          I’m curious what you guys “in the know” think the yellow Grifo #191 is worth? In other words, should it bring a 50k-100k discount to an original 7 Litri? This car looks outrageous, and if it can be had at a big discount I am interested in bidding on it. Any idea what it sold for in the past?

          Thank you,
          Pedro

        • #336 sold for 500k including commission I was told.

    • Thanks, Maurice.

  13. The 1970 Iso Grifo GL Series II (no. 336) at auction in Amelia Island now has an estimate range of $500-550k USD.

    https://rmsothebys.com/en/auctions/am20/amelia-island/lots/r0033-1970-iso-grifo-gl-series-ii-by-bertone/839408

    More realistic to the dealer’s original asking price of $895k.

  14. I agree the yellow 7 Litri would look much better with the Iso Campagnolo magnesium wheels. A friend of mine at one time had a small block Grifo I came close to buying and regret not doing so.

    Are the big block 7 Litri cars that much faster than the small block cars? I remember the Grifo I drove with the 351 C having lots of power.

    Wikipedia suggests “The rarest are the Series II 5-speeds (23 units) and the Series II Targa (4 units).” Is this true in the collectors world?

    Is it wise to find a decent driver and do a restoration? I’m assuming this would be costly and time consuming.

    I have had many cars come and go, just regret not buying that Grifo.

    These are just fantastic cars!

  15. This yellow 7 Litri was listed in Dec of 2017 on Bring a Trailer. It says it has a high capacity radiator with dual fans, and looks like it could cool a semi. Did not realize the big block Chevy’s ran hot. Not a big fan of the grey interior, but other than that looks like a impressive car.

    Not sure what this sold for, but fun to read the comments..

    https://bringatrailer.com/2017/12/15/zf-5-speed-upgraded-1969-iso-grifo-7-litri/

  16. Back in the day I owned a 68 Grifo. One of my favorite things about the car was starting it up and hearing that wonderful sound. I LOVED THAT SOUND! Has still left an indelible imprint in my head.

  17. Simon Vels says

    Owned before and still owns several Grifo’s , never had a problem whit the cooling .
    When you have a raditor what is clean inside and the brass is into a good condition in combination whit modern electric fans you can travel anywhere at any time.

    Oh, now reminder I had once on a trip a problem whit a cooling fan relais , but it was an easy fix .

    People must dont recall everytime the story’s what are written into old magazines.

    Simon

Speak Your Mind

*