1969 Iso Rivolta IR 340 Coupe

The story of Iso Automobili begins with “Isothermos”, a refrigerator manufacturer in Genoa, Italy. In 1942, a motor-mad industrialist and engineer named Renzo Rivolta took over the business, renamed it Iso Autoveicoli and moved the whole works to Bresso, just outside of Milan. Under Rivolta’s guidance, Iso gradually moved away from refrigeration and began building motorcycle around 1948. Iso motorcycles were very expensive, but also very desirable thanks to robust engineering and exquisite build quality. In the early years after World War II, Italy was struggling to recover from the pummeling it received by both Allied and Axis forces. Motorcycles were popular, providing cheap transportation to get the nation back on wheels. But people also needed something more practical and usable on a daily basis. Iso unveiled the Isetta bubble car in 1953 – a three (later four) wheeled car powered by a motorbike engine and with room for two adults and a bag or two of groceries. The cheeky little Isetta proved popular enough to inspire Renzo Rivolta to sell the rights to produce his car to other manufacturers. Most notably, it is the car that helped BMW survive the post-war years and put Germany back on wheels. Selling the rights afforded Rivolta a generous pile of cash which he in turn used to develop a rather more luxurious machine compared to the tiny Isetta.

In the early 1960’s Renzo Rivolta teamed up with Giotto Bizzarrini and Giorgetto Giugiaro on GT car that was more suited to the rapidly recovering global market. The new car, named Rivolta, is one of the first examples of the “hybrid” sports car to come out of Europe in the 1960’s. Italian designed and built, the car was constructed with a pressed sheet steel frame and fitted with a proven, reliable and affordable Chevrolet 327 V8 lifted from the Corvette. The suspension was comprised of wishbones up front and a proven DeDion rear axle with limited slip Salisbury diff – a tough and reliable unit used by Jaguar for years. Also courtesy of the Brits were the Dunlop four-wheel disc brakes. The Iso Rivolta was rounded out with luxurious and comfortable four-seat cabin, delightfully described in period literature as having “Efficient functioning united to sober elegance”.  Performance was strong thanks to a minimum of 300hp from the Corvette engine in the IR 300, and 350hp from the IR 340. The literature also proclaimed the Iso Rivolta was “Silent from 40-240 (kph) in top gear!” That was enough to convince 792 lucky buyers over a 7 year span to shell out their hard earned Lire for a chance to own one of these stylish and elegant GT cars.

This 1969 Iso Rivolta IR 340 is one of the very last Rivolta’s made.  The car was completed on March 5, 1969, and delivered new to Sig. Oglihri in Italy, and was equipped with the 350 hp motor, 4 speed transmission, 3.31 rear end, Borrani wheels, air conditioning, and quick steering.  It is a very pretty and well restored example that has benefited from proper care while in the hands of a marque enthusiast, and is one of only 167 produced with the higher horsepower motor.  The paint quality is very good, the older restoration having been done to a high standard. Panel fit is excellent the gaps are consistent, and the body lines crisp and well defined. The red paint is very attractive, accented with good quality chrome and polished brightwork. The aforementioned Borrani wheels are painted in the proper shade of silver/gray, lending an understated and classic look to the Giugiaro-penned lines. The wheels wear new Vredestein tires that offer the proper period look combined with modern performance.

The Rivolta was an expensive and luxurious GT car for its day, with a beautifully finished cabin and plenty of standard equipment. Our fine example doesn’t disappoint when you climb aboard. Occupants are treated to tan leather covering the four seats, door panels and dash. The interior was retrimmed some time ago but remains in excellent condition, showing little wear, exhibiting a pleasingly broken-in quality. Brown carpets complement the tan leather very nicely and present in fine condition. This car wears original air conditioning, power windows, original shift knob and steering wheel. The wood instrument panel is in excellent condition, fitted with an array of original European-specification gauges.

This fabulous example retains its original matching numbers matching 350 hp Corvette-sourcedengine, and as such returns excellent performance and reliability. It is also very easily serviced by any competent classic car specialist, making it an ideal choice for Italian car enthusiasts who prefer to drive their cars on a regular basis without worrisome service bills. Few examples of the handsome Iso Rivolta are as correct and well presented, and thanks to regular care it is very healthy and ready for Grand Touring in classic Italian style.

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