My Car Quest

September 16, 2021

The Iso Grifo Spider: A Mystifying Recent Sighting

by Wallace Wyss –

Iso Grifo Spider Story Part 1

Originally Renzo Rivolta, founder of Iso in Italy, thought an open car would be a good companion for the Iso Grifo coupe. And so a one off Spider was made. It is not known if that too was penned by Giugiaro, then at Bertone. It was a one off that had several features not on the production steel bodied coupes. Among them:

– side vents aft of the rear wheels cut into the fender

– a vertical slot on the front fenders with horizontal “blades” almost hiding vertical exhaust pipes, one per side

– a dull-finished rocker panel; counting slots, ostensibly for exhaust (functional?)

Iso Grifo Spider

The one off car was sold at some point, later crashed and a new production Grifo nose grafted on. Most people couldn’t tell the difference–but the prototype nose has sharper more defined features. At some point the one off made it to America and the nose was hit like the one off sister car the A3/L coupe. The Spider changed hands several times and the author himself saw it in a Culver City, CA car showroom in the ’80s for $22,000 and decided not to bid because of rust, not realizing it was the only one on Earth. At the present time it is indoors in a building at Por-Fer Auto Wrecking, a junkyard infamous for salting away incredibly valuable cars.

Iso Grifo Spider, A3/L

Iso Grifo A3/L Spider

Iso Grifo Spider Story Part 2

I was reading a foreign car show report and saw a picture of a forest green Iso Grifo Spider at a car show in Europe. I was surprised to see it since Iso as a company had folded in 1974. Then flash forward another few decades and I see more pictures of one on the internet, still the same color.

Iso Grifo Spider

OCTANE magazine, a very slick hi-brow car magazine from England came out with a story in their recent issue on a cut car, this one cut in Germany, and featured in the story is Stuart Parr, a noted architect and classic car dealer. His car does not have the vertical side slit with hidden exhaust or the slotted rocker panel.

Iso Grifo Spider

Once I saw the car in OCTANE I was on the hunt and able to find the pictures of that Austrian road rally that took place in 2013 and confirm that car in that event had the vertical “hidden exhaust” and the rear fender vents and rocker arm slits.

Iso Grifo Spider-Octane

This Iso Grifo Spider is for sale and his website shows several Grifos, two for sale, and past ones that he owned. It is safe to say he is the only dealer in America stocking Iso Grifos (and one Bizzarrini GT5300 and the only Bizzarrini 2+2).

I am concluding there are now three Iso Grifo Spiders existent, the original and two green Spider converted from coupe, one with all the styling cues of the A3/L coupe the other sans the A3/L design cues listed above.

And so it is. With only a little over 400 Grifos made, you wonder if anyone else will cut one to make the arguably more beautiful Spider. What you lose in originality you make up in rarity.

Or if the company name is ever bought (Renzo’s son Piero is still with us) will the body styling be retained for a new retro model?

At any rate we’re glad to see this fairly faithful conversion.

Iso Grifo Spider

The Green Grifo Spider with vertical sidepipes was seen at an event in Kitzbuheller Alpine Rally in 2013

Iso Grifo Spider

The original possibly in the showroom in Culver City wearing a luggage rack

Iso Grifo Spider

When it was displayed in Culver City it lacked the center nose grille divider so looked Camaro-ish.

Iso Grifo Spider

The One and Only Iso Grifo Spider rotting in a warehouse somewhere in California

The late Greg Garrison, a former TV producer (Dean Martin show), owned and restored a variety of unusual cars – including the Iso Grifo Spider. He had a Ferrari 400 Spyder built for him out of a test mule the factory had been working with. I haven’t found out if he showed the Grifo at any event before selling it to the junkyard owner. The Grifo Spider is the kind of car Garrison liked to find, something no one else has.

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Wallace Wyss

THE AUTHOR: Wallace Wyss is the author of 18 car books. He is co-host of the Autotalk show broadcast weekly out of KUCR-FM Riverside.
 
 
 

Iso Grifo Spider

Iso Grifo Spider portrait in progress by Wallace Wyss

Iso Grifo Logo

Summary
The Iso Grifo Spider: A Mystifying Recent Sighting
Article Name
The Iso Grifo Spider: A Mystifying Recent Sighting
Description
With only a little over 400 Iso Grifos made, you wonder if anyone else will cut one to make the arguably more beautiful Spider.
Author

Comments

  1. Peter Wolfers says

    There is at least one more Iso Grifo convertible that I have heard rumour of. The Stuart Parr car was created from a very rusty UK right-hand drive Grifo, and looks lovely.

    In my opinion, now that most Grifos have had extensive restoration and a largely in good order, we are unlikely to see more cars used as the basis for convertible conversions.

  2. This spider is gorgeous! What are they asking?

  3. helmut böning says

    As Peter Wolfers said, there are at least one more .The funny thing is,that 3 are definetly converted in Germany(maybe 4) One of the company doing such conversions is Franz Prahl in Preußisch Oldendorf.He made Targa conversions too and was familiar with ISO Grifo restorations since the 80ies.Both green Spiders (mentioned in your story) are made by him.All the necessary datas are in his archives.

  4. Such a stunning car it is a shame more were not produced… and no I would not like to see coupes cut up…

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