Brand Royalty: Iso


Iso made its name in the pre-war years building refrigerators and other appliances – but phoenix like, after the great cataclysm, they were best known for producing the Isetta bubble car, which came with double-piston two-stroke engines of 236cc; it was also licence-built by BMW in Germany, VELAM in France and Isetta in Great Britain.


But it is Iso’s big, burly, luxurious cars that ignite our particular interest – and the florid, classy typography the brand adopted is some of the nicest handwrought ident-work in automotive history.


Most big Isos combined Ghia and Bertone-built bodywork with big Chevrolet V8 engines – including within this formula the Rivolta coupes and limousines and the spectacularly brawny Grifo Lusso, a two-seater coupe. The Grifo IR 9 Can-Am, meanwhile (pictured here), came with a 7443cc Chevrolet V8 and a top speed of 182 mph.

In 1966 Renzo Rivolta, the man behind the company, died and his son Piero took control. The company made an ill-judged move into Formula One with Frank Williams and at about the same time the oil crisis hit. The combination of these events saw the closure of Iso in 1975.

Shame. They made cars with incredible panache.