1974 Iso Fidia
Renzo Rivolta was born in 1908 in the Italian town Desio. His parents were well respected industrialists and very active in the local community. In 1939 Rivolta purchased a small company called Isothermos of Bolzaneto. Located on the outskirts of Genoa in Italy, the company specialised in the manufacturing of refrigerators and electric heaters. In 1942, after the offices were damaged due to heavy bombing during the War, the company relocated to Bresso, Milan.
Soon after World War II ended Rivolta decided to change direction and he started producing motorcycles. At that time this was a very profitable market. One of the first vehicles produced by the company was the ISO scooter, based on the popular 125cc Puch. It was soon followed by the company’s first motorcycle, the Isomoto. With the rebound of the economy after World War II, there was a growing demand for all sorts of vehicles. Rivolta recognised the opportunity and introduced a number of three and four wheel simple transportation vehicles, including the Isocarro.
In 1953 the company introduced the Isetta to the motoring press in Turin. The car was unlike anything the world had seen before and it caused a huge sensation. In 1954, Iso entered several Isettas in the legendary Mille Miglia where they took the top three spots in the economy classification. Over a distance of 1,000 miles (1,600 km), the drivers achieved an average speed of over 43 mph (70 km/h).
Despite the success of the Isetta, Rivolta wanted to go in another direction and build sports and GT cars to compete with the likes of Ferrari and Maserati on the world stage. He started negotiating with various companies to sell licenses to produce Isettas. One of these companies was BMW and in 1954 Rivolta sold not just a license but also the complete body tooling to BMW.
In 1962 the Iso Rivolta GT made its debut at a special event held at Villa Rivolta in Bresso, Italy. Rivolta chose Bertone to design his new car which was to be powered by a Chevrolet 327 V8 engine. The choice of power was an interesting one. Most Italian manufacturers, and Ferrari in particular, were known for using small displacement, high revving engines. Rivolta’s engine choice was cost effective and it eliminated the time required to develop and build his own. When the car was tested by former Ferrari track engineer Giotto Bizzarrini, his first reaction was: “I am shocked, it is superior to Ferrari’s engine”. The GT, designed by Bertone received critical acclaim as a stylish 2+2 with enough room for four people.
The Iso A3 was introduced at the 1963 Turin Motor Show. Styled Giorgetto Giugiaro at Bertone, the A3 had been cloaked in mystique for quite some time. The A3 was destined for the race track. Giotto Bizzarrini was hired to manage Iso Rivolta’s racing activities and the Iso A3/C (competition) won its class at Le Mans in 1964 and 1965.
Iso Rivolta also introduced the Iso Grifo A3/L (Lusso) at the 1963 Turin Motor Show. The Grifo was a more civilised street version of the A3/C. Similar to the Iso Rivolta GT, it was a combination of Italian design and American V8 power. The Grifo was another Bertone masterpiece and it became the car which really put Iso Rivolta on the map. To many it was the ultimate GT car and it remained in production from 1965 through until 1974.
Rivolta and Bizzarrini went their different ways. Rivolta wanted to focus on road cars and Bizzarrini took over the Iso A3 project after only 22 cars were built. The car was renamed the Bizzarrini GT Strada 5300.
Following on the success of the Grifo, Rivolta wanted to build a luxurious four door sports saloon. At the 1967 Frankfurt Motor Show the Iso Rivolta Fidia was introduced. It took some time to finally get the Fidia into production. The European introduction and the press launch took place in Athens, Greece in February 1969, more than a year after the car was first introduced. At that time 15 cars had already been built under the model name S4. It was only after the European launch the name was changed to Fidia. The body was designed again by Giorgetto Giugiaro who was now working at Ghia.
The Iso Fida was marketed as ‘the world’s four fastest seats’ in period. The car was also very expensive and as a result only 192 examples were built from 1967 to 1974. The majority of these Fidias were powered by a Chevrolet 327 (5454cc) V8 engine, however, for commercial reasons Iso switched to Ford Cleveland 5769 cc V8 engines in 1973. It is understood that 43 Iso Fidias were built with the Ford Cleveland engine.
Oldtimer Australia is delighted to offer for sale a rare 1974 Iso Rivolta Fidia.
The build sheet on file confirms this particular example was built on 11th February 1974 and originally destined for the French market, however, it got diverted and sold to Belgian Iso Rivolta dealer Van den Abbeele. The built sheet also confirms this car was delivered in its current colour scheme of blue (colour code 20A357) with a beige leather interior.
This particular example was the third from last Fidia to roll of the production line.
In 1974 Mr van den Abbeele and his son went to the factory to buy an Iso Rivolta Grifo and an Iso Rivolta Fidia. At that time the factory was already in the process of closing down so they were just in time to secure the two cars. Whilst the Grifo was kept in the family, the Fidia was sold to a Mr Beaten, a very successful and wealthy private banker. It is understood Mr Beaton also owned a Grifo and a Lele Marlboro. He sold the car to its second owner, Mr Paul Dooren in 1979 and it remained in his ownership for the next forty years. It is understood Mr Dooren restored the car, though it is not known exactly when the restoration took place. More recently, in 2019 the engine was rebuilt by Ron Kroonder in Assendelft, the Netherlands and there is an invoice on file for this work.
The current owner acquired this Iso Fidia on 12th November 2020 in Belgium, at which time the mileage was noted as 69,709 km. The car was subsequently imported into Perth, Western Australia. Following its arrival into Perth, the car was gone through and sorted by local classic car specialists Autodelta in Malaga.
The car has been used sparingly since arriving in Australia and a change in circumstances has resulted in the current owner now reluctantly offering the car for sale.
The Iso Rivolta Fidia is a striking design. You walk around the car and its unique angles and squat stance confirm it is ‘something special’. The car appealed to the ‘rich and famous’ in period and John Lennon purchased the second example built. After taking time to better understand the car you appreciate why.
This car presents well and its dark blue paint work suits it perfectly. It carries an older repaint, most likely dating back to the late 1980’s / early 1990’s. The paint has held up well and it remains in a fairly good condition. From about a meter away the car presents really well but up close you will notice some defects, most notably on the front left guard and the left rear door. All of the exterior trim, including the chrome and the glass is all in good condition. The unique magnesium wheels are a feature on an Iso. Unfortunately, on this car they are blistered, most likely as a result of being repainted without the correct preparation.
The interior is stylish though one could argue the placement of some of the instruments is perhaps a little bit odd, which is typical for Italian cars from that period. There is plenty of space in the car, it easily fits four adults. Overall the interior of this car presents well. The leather seats are showing some patina but generally they are in good condition. The same is true for the dashboard and the timber finishes in the car.
The real surprise is when you turn the key and start the engine. You expect the typical sound of an Italian 8 or 12 cylinder engine but you get the unmistakable sound of an American V8 . . . in this case a 5.7 litre Ford Cleveland V8! In fact, the engine sounds really good. This car really is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It is big and it is heavy . . . but it does go! Out on the open road the car is a real cruiser. The Ford Cleveland V8 engine provides plenty of power and is surprisingly quiet when you are cruising. However, put your foot down when you get the urge and quickly realise that this is indeed quite a fast car. Despite its size this car is very easy to maneuver through traffic. It is equipped with power steering and air conditioning, which blows cold air, which further enhances the driving experience. On our recent test drive the car performed well. The engine pulls like a train and the gearbox is smooth. The car handles, steers and stops as one would expect. We observed that all the instruments are working except for the fuel gauge.
Today the odometer reads 69,825 km.
Accompanying the car is a spare wheel, some historical documentation including the original build sheet.
Italian sports saloon of the 1960’s and 1970’s are unique cars. Best known is Maserati’s Quattroporte, however, there is also the De Tomaso Deauville and Monteverdi 375/4 (Italian designed but Swiss built) . . . but we like the Iso Fidia. This is a really cool car and it is very unlikely you’ll park next to another one at cars ‘n’ coffee!
- Rare Italian four door sports saloon, being one of only 192 examples built.
- Powered by a Ford Cleveland V8 engine.
- Finished in its original colour scheme.
- Factory build sheet and a known history from new.
- A well presented car that drives well.
- Iso Fidia
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