Until 1953 the company Iso Rivolta was called Isothermos. Renzo Rivolta, heir of an important family of industrialists of Milan, Italy, changed his production portfolio from refrigeration units to mopeds and motorbikes (Isomotos) after World War II. Isomotos were known as expensive, but durable and well-built. In the mid-1950s, he started to develop a miniature car for two persons and front entrance, initially with only three wheels, later, for reasons of stability, with four wheels (the two on the rear very close together): the Isetta Bubble Car.
Starting in 1954. Isetta was licensed to automobile manufacturers in several countries and was built in (France, Spain, Great Britain) and Brazil. The most successful, however, was the German Isetta built by BMW. The BMW-Isetta fulfilled the dream of mobility in post-war Germany and about 130.000 were sold until 1962.
Together with the engineer Giotto Bizzarrini (Ferrari 250 GTO, 1960), the designer Giorgetto Giugiaro (VW Golf I, 1974) and the chassis-experts of Bertone Renzo Rivolta began developing the Iso Rivolta IR 300 (presented on the Torino Show of 1962), an elegant 2 + 2 Coupé with well-balanced technical components and outstanding driving performance: the 5,4 l V8 (small-block) motor came from General Motors in Detroit, the transmission, too, axles (de Dion) and braking system (4 disc brakes!) came from the large Jaguars of the time. Tjis concept was maintained for almost all production cars of Iso (1971 Ford 351 Cleveland engines replaced the GM small block). The most well-known Gran Turismo of Iso Rivolta berlinetta-bodied Iso Grifo (from 1964).
After the sudden death of Renzo Rivolta, his son Piero became the director of Iso Rivolta in 1966 (aged only 25 then). Under his leadership, Iso built the limousine Fidia, "the fastest four seats on wheels" (Advertisement, 1967), the Grifo 7 litri (with the GM V8 7-litre marine engine) and the 2 + 2 Coupé Lele (1970), intended as the successor of the IR 300. Iso Rivolta went bankrupt in 1974, only 1.700 Iso Gran Turismos had been built in those ten years.
Today, Piero Rivolta and his wife Lele live in Sarasota, Florida. His son Renzo is leading Rivolta Marine, his daughter, Marietta, is in the management of Zagato Centrostile, Milan, Italy, she is married to Andrea Zagato.
|Rivolta | Grifo | Fidia | Lele | Varedo | Grifo 90 | Grifo 96|