John Webber
John Webber
2/26/20 8:27 a.m.

Story and Photography by John Webber

When Darren Frank was a kid on Long Island, New York, he was the envy of all the young gearheads in town. You see, his dad drove a 1967 Iso Grifo. It could be argued that this sleek Grand Turismo excited Darren’s friends even more than another sexy Italia…

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wspohn Dork
2/26/20 2:13 p.m.

Not long ago, the Grifo needed a replacement alternator. Darren and his friend Jon strolled into the local NAPA store and bought one over the counter. 

Try that with your Lambo.

Actually, you would be surprised.  I was able to find the brakes parts and many items of switch gear for my 69 Islero S by sourcing from Lucas sources for British cars, and when my Jensen CV8 had a voltage regulator go out, I just picked one up at the local NAPA store.

The Italians made beautiful bodies and sourced a lot of other stuff from all over the place - the trick is working out what it is and where to look for it.

That Grifo is a lovely car, but like the Jensens, it lacks the added interest of a bespoke engine and gearbox.

jippiejake New Reader
6/14/20 4:29 p.m.

Great artical, and Mr Frank sounds like a wonderful person. 

I just purchsed an Iso Grifo and have owned Ferraris for many years and agree the mechanical parts are easy to find. Body parts not so much. Such beautiful cars, and very well made.

ktisdale New Reader
1/23/22 10:19 a.m.

I still would like a 72-74 351 example. Pricy now-a-days...

bosswrench New Reader
1/23/22 2:48 p.m.

The Grifo is about the only Italoamerican GT that could be had with either a Chevy or Ford engine (some models).  An acquaintence told me that the wiring on his car was more complicated than necessary because it consisted of all white wires- no color code. Guess the parts supply was short that week.

wspohn SuperDork
1/24/22 12:34 p.m.

Don't get me started on Italian wiring!

I owned a Lamborghini Islero S and had some mild refurbishment to do including some electrical.  With British cars, almost all manufacturers used the same colour coding for wiring. I expect that might also have been the case with the Italians but the problem came when Italian wiring met British components.

The early Lamborghinis used quite a bit of British electrical and brake hardware, so you had to analyze what you were working with. Where the British  unit plugged into the Italian loom, all the colouring just changed and became totally different and it was hard to get wiring diagrams for some of the low production Italian cars (e.g. they made only 100 Islero S cars).

I saved a lot of money by analyzing what I was working with (I had extensive experience with British cars).  I was able to identify what else the braking system fit, I found a NOS turn signal switch from an Austin for $75 instead of paying $300 for the same switch from Italy, and ditto for the brake light switch (whish was buried down n the frame by the left rear wheel) - a Lucas switch used by Austin Healeys matched.

Sadly, the chap that I bought the Islero from had found it and an Iso Grifo together in a shop. They wanted to sell both but he felt that the Grifo was a lesser car having an American V8 in it and passed on it.  Otherwise I might have also owned that too (as well as a really big car loan!)

tolyarutunoff New Reader
12/24/22 2:17 p.m.

i prefer exotic cars with american engines.  european suspension design more oriented to performance driving and american reliability/accessability.  i had 2 bristol saloons with the chryslerv8 and still have the only bristol 407 zagato.  i also still have my second qvale mangusta which delights me as it doesn't have a single splitter, wing, or spoiler on it!

wspohn SuperDork
12/25/22 5:46 p.m.

I have owned 4 big Jensens and still have one Interceptor and can agree that the American engine is a sensible way to go even f they aren't nearly as neat and interesting as the European engined super cars - but there is something to be said for plodding along reliably for long periods of time!

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