My Car Quest

October 1, 2022

The Junkyard Iso Fidia

Yes, the junkyards of Detroit have treasures.

by Wallace Wyss –

You got to know the guys that run the car biz in Detroit are not totally ignorant of what’s happening in Yurrip. They secretly buy dozens of exotic cars and try to figure out how to steal their mojo.

A website called Car Scoops had an article in 2011 entitled; “It Came from a…Detroit Junkyard: 1968 Iso Fidia S4”.

Iso Fidia

They said of Iso: “The boutique automaker made several notable contributions to the world of motoring, among them the legendary Grifo and svelte Rivolta.”

But Car Scoops trashed the Giugiro-designed Fidia saying “sadly, the Fidia S4 sedan pictured here. Let’s just say it wasn’t one of the company’s finer moments.”

Wkipedia says, “though it started with a 327 Chevy V8, by 1973, after General Motors demanded payment in advance of shipment, the engine supplier had been switched and cars were delivered with a Ford 5.8 liter V8, matched with a ZF five speed manual gear box or with Ford’s own ‘Cruise-O-Matic’ automatic gearbox.”

Iso Fidia

They did more research, pointing out “from 1967 to 1975, only 192 Fidia S4’s were produced. Iso, which had not built a four-door before and would never build one again, describes the Fidia as, “the four fastest seats in the world”.

They didn’t mention that it had been introduced as the S4 but Wikipedia says “At the time of the press launch 15 cars had already been built, but it was only in February 1969 that the car swapped its ‘S4’ name for the more euphonious ‘Fidia’.

This rescued Iso Fidia came to light on eBay. offered by a man who rescued it from a junkyard in the Detroit area in 1977. Car Scoops quotes the ad saying, “The car was originally owned by GM Chevrolet Engineering, where it was purportedly driven by such luminaries as (Zora) Duntov, (Bill) Mitchell and DeLorean and acted as a “benchmark” vehicle.”

Iso Fidia

A side note: When DeLorean was ousted from GM, he started his own car company and hired the Fidia’s designer, Giorgetto Giugiaro, then clear of Ghia, to design his dream car.

The timeline is hazy but the Car Scoops writer says it was before 1977 that GM dumped it at the junkyard. He points out it had non-original wheels and seats. And makes no mention of the whereabouts of the bumpers (used on some GM prototype?)

Iso Fidia

Car Scoops says by the time they caught the ad, “ the bidding had reached the US$15,800 mark.”

I am curious to what happened to it? It’s a damn good looking car for the money, but hey, who knew what it was in Detroit? That’s like serving gourmet wine to people that like Coca-Cola.

Has it been restored?

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Wallace Wyss art

THE AUTHOR: Wallace Wyss is a California-based fine artist who, among his 100 paintings, has several devoted to Iso and Bizzarrini. He will have his work st Concorso Italiano or can be reached now at malibucarart@gmail.com

 
 
 
 

Iso Fidia Brochure

Summary
The Junkyard Iso Fidia
Article Name
The Junkyard Iso Fidia
Description
From 1967 to 1975, only 192 Fidia S4’s were produced. Iso, which had not built a four-door before and would never build one again, describes the Fidia as, “the four fastest seats in the world”.
Author

Comments

  1. Brian Winer says

    Interesting car, with an interesting story…… Let us know if you get an update on that car!

  2. This is S4 serial number 004 and as far as I know in 2019 it was shown like in this picture. I heard of no recent restoration being attempted on it.

  3. Gary Gumushian says

    Hi all,
    I own the car now. Come see it in September at the Audrain Concours in Newport, RI. Looks just like the above picture, and I’ll tell the entire story at Audrain.

    Cheers!

  4. Mike Kerns says

    Looks like a Mangusta 4-door..Probably because they are both Ghia cars. Great looking car.. Love it!!

  5. I flew up to look at it, and the Bitter CD in the background, in Dec. 2018. The Fidia was bit of a disappointment, plus it would not run, after an afternoon of attempts. The Bitter would hardly run, either. I purchased the Bitter CD but could not pull the trigger on a the Fidia.

  6. Glen Durmisevich says

    I know,Steve Pasteiner, the guy who rescued it from the junk yard. He was a designer at GM and we all new about and appreciated the Fidia’s Giugiaro design. There are a small number of great four door designs and this ISO is one of them. Sounds like the car is in good hands still..

  7. wallace wyss says

    Steve has a store on Woodward Ave. in Birmingham (Auto Zone before there was a parts chain called that) where he sells car books and maybe car art (hint, hint). He promotes cars ‘n coffees there and I think it’s great Detroit car designers have some place they can go for fun.He also made a replica 308 body that bolted onto a Fiero which no doubt annoyed the biggies in Modena

  8. Gary Gumushian says

    I’ve known Steve and the family for 30 years. When I lived in Detroit I was a regular at the Saturday morning coffee. I remember when he started it! I told him by selling it to me it’s ‘staying in the family’ so to speak! It’s the 4-door version of my Pantera and really so unique. I love it!

  9. This car sure has lines similar to the 1967 Camaro in the side view panels and a remarkable look to the newer Dodge challengers in the front grill.
    I had thought that GM had some sort of interest in this car back in the day, which may explain why the similar looks. One could press the point to argue this looks like a 4 door Camaro, except built before GM developed the Camaro.
    Perhaps this is where some of the design ideas came from on the newer cars.

  10. wallace wyss says

    I think the only “downside to the styling” is the way side view resembles Ford Maverick four door. But the upside, the vent in the C pillar is pure brilliance. I wonder if the comparison to Mangusta adds truth to the tale that the Mangusta came about when Giugiaro was doing the Fidia and someone said “why don’t we design a sports car to be its companion in the garage?” Then instead the design was used by DeTomaso instead of Iso. Not sure how that story holds up with the timeline (at first DeTomaso was only a customer of Ghia, later bought it with his wife’s daddy’s money.

  11. My friend sent me this. This Fidia has something like 16k original miles on it. He says it’s just magical and currently being worked on, by the same guy that had the Grifo that was so original with only 6k miles on it.

    I for one would love to see more of this remarkable car.

  12. Stevie Wonder says

    Love those cars..Its a Mangusta with 4 doors and an automatic!!!

  13. That is me with Fidia #183 which I found in an Oregon garage after being parked for 42 years. This summer I was too busy with preparing cars for Monterey but I will soon start blogging about this unique Iso on my web site. It was in the same collection that contained the spectacular “under-6000-mile” 1974 Iso Grifo I restored a few years ago. The father of the current owner loved Isos and his diverse collection held 3 Isos: a Grifo, a Fidia and a Lele. His son wanted the Grifo which was then handed to me to restore back to it’s old glory, put away VERY wet in 1979 and forgotten did some damage. That process taught me the father used Isos like they should be used: hard! And for me it was a fantastic challenge to make it into one the most desirable Grifos on earth. None of these cars are for sale at the moment.

    When the Grifo was restored to their satisfaction they gave me the honor to visit the collection storage where they sat for more than 4 decades. It was like walking back into time, the newest registration decal was 1982 (so last driven in 1980 in Oregon). And because the grounds were sold to a developer and had to make way for 1800 apartments I was offered to buy some of hem; which I did.

    One of them was indeed this unique Fidia with 16,000 miles, in unaltered (original paint, no rust!) condition just Oregon humidity got to it and it needed substantial cosmetic work mainly in the engine compartment. The video shows it in a (too) small storage box after I made sure the motor (351 4V Cleveland) wasn’t seized, rebuilt the carburetor and made sure it had fuel. I’m a one man show so as you can hear I talk to my shop dog Mickey, he keeps me from going nuts among all this old iron! 😎

    This video is truly the first time I cranked the motor with fuel and ignition on, proof is the plume of rust shooting out of the tailpipes! As you see, I still get as excited as a kid even after doing this work for more than 4 decades, hahaha! I have one video of it being driven out of that storage and that is where I had to leave it for now. The attached picture is taken when it was just pulled out of it’s long term storage.

    And after all was said and done it turned out that the Iso Lele was an even more unique car, a very early, factory fuel injected AND supercharged one off which I am working on now. I was hoping to get it ready for Monterey but ran out of time, as a restorer I learned customer’s cars always comes first. 😎 I will blog about that car at a later date too.

    • I saw that Grifo #405 at Cars&Coffee in Malibu a few years back. I would never sell that car, just awesome.

      Thanks for sharing the stories Maurice.

    • Would love to see this Lele you speak about, however NOT SURE that the Iso factory had ANY supercharged cars then. If they did produce such car, I would submit that few know about this and you would have a very unique and valuable car on your hand.
      You seem to have a gift for having very desirable Iso’s however

      • Francois, I would react in the exact similar way as you do. However, there is plenty documentation that this car was built, it just went off the radar of “Iso-people” in 1981. Factory records and pictures, letters of the person it was built for, a letter of the first owner in the US and it was actually mentioned in the book “Isorivolta, The Men and the machines”. That last fact got me to find out that the “hot mess” under the hood was not some contraption an 80-ies rubber burning backyard mechanic put together but the real deal. Iso DID actually built this car but it is the only one with that wild option ever…

        I will blog about this as soon as I find the time and in the mean time I can refresh it a bit. I have not driven it yet, just started without blower attached and moved to the spot where I am now working on it. I don’t know anything about superchargers and I don’t want to ruin this one before I know what I’m doing. 🙂

        I will post before and after pictures for sure to document the journey this car went and is going through.

        • Maurice,
          I saw Grifo 369 that you commissioned prior to the sale in Monterey and fell in love! What a spectacular original example of perfection.

          Unfortunately I missed seeing Grifo 405 that you commissioned as well, as I missed the peninsula that year. From what I heard it was equally as spectacular…. One with the penthouse hood and one without, would make a great pair 🙄

          I must say, I look forward to seeing the factory hot rood Lele on your blog, as well as that jewel of a Fidia. You must have paid top dollar, as rumor was nothing was prying those cars out of the families hands despite a number of offers.

          Thanks for all the info!

          • Hi Woody. So you remember Grifo #369? You must be an insider then. 🙂

            Yes, that was “Sam’s Car” and was indeed spectacular. He parked it in his garage in Glendale, CA when mechanics screwed up his windows and suspension and called me 40 years later to correct their mess. For me the car was very interesting as it was a true time capsule, the first one (to me) that was this original. So it showed me exactly how these S2 Grifos were assembled. After my work It was sold for a record from ($525K) for an unrestored Grifo in Monterey.

            It had 14,000 mIles (23,500 Km) while Grifo #405 had 5900 miles… So again a whole different level. But Grifo #405 was is way worse condition mechanically as it was parked in a pole barn for the first part of it’s storage.And, the owner was not like Sam, he made sure that car was used HARD! Even after just 5900 mIles there was little tire thread, brake pads or clutch lining left, hahaha!

            You made me think I should write about Grifo #369 too, if I only had the time…

  14. Thanks for sharing your barn find story. That red Fidia does look sweet.

  15. Thank you Maurice. I will contact your shop after Monterey car week, and leave my contact information. I would like consideration if the Grifo or Fidia are ever sold, especially the Grifo. Once again appreciate all the details.

  16. Yes Mike, I liked the red one better as well.

    I thought it had a better history as well..

    What a great car to miss, and thanks for sharing this wonderful photo.

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