ISO Rivolta: International express

Positioned somewhere between Jaguar and Ferrari, the drop-dead gorgeous Iso Rivolta was a touch of class – and as Simon de Burton reveals, this particular example is a true original

ISO Rivolta

With Italian styling and a Corvette V8, the Rivolta was a near-perfect mix of good looks and power

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Renzo Rivolta’s industrial forebears made a fortune postwar out of products that included bubble cars, scooters and refrigerators. But the man himself simply left a legacy of some darned cool cars, not least the Rivolta that he was inspired to develop for purely selfish reasons: he wanted something quick and comfortable that was more luxurious than a Jaguar and less expensive than a Ferrari – and, since no one else made such a thing, he decided to do the job himself.

Rivolta turned to a young Giorgetto Giugiaro to pen the body, Carrozzeria Bertone to build it and Chevrolet to provide the momentum in the form of a 327ci V8 that pushed out 300bhp, with some typically fancy materials for the interior. The result: a genuine gentleman’s express that could get you from breakfast in London to lunch in Paris and on to a late dinner in Rome without breaking sweat or breaking down.

Although the later Grifo is better known, better looking and considered more desirable, the Rivolta has the distinction of being Iso’s first supercar – and this GT300 version due to cross the block at French auction house Ivoire is the actual example that was displayed on the Iso stand at the 1965 Turin show. Since then it has had four owners and is described by Ivoire as ‘a time capsule’ which is original inside and out, down to the unique dashboard-mounted altimeter it was fitted with from new and, of course, the 300kph/180mph speedometer that hinted at the car’s performance. On a good day, a Rivolta could touch 150mph – and all without being too terrifying thanks to the fact that Giotto Bizzarrini had designed the race-worthy chassis.

Beautifully patinated and accompanied by a file containing invoices for maintenance work costing £12,000, the car is believed to be one of fewer than 400 survivors from the 797 built and would certainly be a good buy at the suggested starting price of £34,500.

It’s likely to fetch a lot more. Even examples requiring extensive restoration have achieved bigger bids, and last September a Rivolta from the collection of André Trigano was hammered down by Artcurial for almost £75,000 – despite having been driven into a canal in its early days by a jockey returning home from a night out.

1965 ISO Rivolta GT300

For sale with auctioneer Ivoire, Troyes, France, September 4
Estimate £34,500 and up