In July of 2018 The Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix will celebrate BMW as the Marque of the Year. Up on the hill at the Cortile, we will be celebrating the family who created the car that saved BMW.
The Rivolta Family founded Iso Autoveicoli S.p.A, an automobile and motorcycle maker in Italy. The company was active from the late 1940s through the early 1970s. Iso are known for the iconic Isetta bubble car, later of BMW fame, in the 1950s, and for a number of powerful performance cars in the 1960s and early 1970s.
Today Piero Rivolta is active in land development, boat manufacturing, serious sailing, a world-respected chamber-music festival (La Musica), and a dozen other activities, including writing and publishing novels and books of poetry.
From Refrigerators to Scooter: The early years
During World War II manufacturing was tightly regulated after the Nazi takeover of Italy. The Rivolta family converted the lower levels of a castle into a refrigerator factory and employed much of the local town under the auspices of it being a vineyard and winery. It's a remarkable story in and of itself with false walls and Nazi searches and some rather harrowing experiences.
After the Second World War, the company reopened its doors and, in 1948, began to build motorcycles, scooters and motocarries - three-wheeled transport scooters/motorcycles. Renzo Rivolta had recognized a unique opportunity and jumped in front of his competitors by making performance transportation a priority in the post-war economy.
New scooters where introduced at a rampant pace with the 'Furetto' in 1948, the 'Isoscooter' in 1950, the 'Isocarro' in 1951', the 'Isosport' in 1953 and finally the 'Isomoto' in 1954. The last Iso motorcycle was presented as the Iso 500 in 1961. Isomotos were known as expensive, very durable and very well-built. The twin piston engine developed at Iso had more power than the comparable Vespa and Lambretta models making the Iso's the performance choice in the post-war economy.
The Birth of the Auto Scooter: The Isetta
As the economy began to expand in the early 1950's consumers in Italy wanted to travel to places without getting soaking wet on the back of a scooter and once again sitting down comfortably inside a car.
The Isetta caused a sensation when it was introduced to the motoring press in Turin in November 1953. However, soon after the Isetta was introduced, Fiat introduced the Fiat 500, at a similar price point, and it could seat four people. Rivolta and the team at Iso had gambled the company's success on the Isetta's, but soon they where sitting in the lot at the Bresso factory, unsold.
In 1947, BMW was granted permission to resume motorcycle production. Its first post-war motorcycle was released in 1948. In 1952 BMW resumed production of automobiles, with the BMW 501 large sedan. Unfortunately consumers did not want or could not afford large sedans and BMW was facing some some financial woes that could mean the end to the company as well.
They approached Rivolta and proposed buy-in the entire assembly line and moving it to Germany under license. The assembly line was moved from Bresso to Munich, the engine was upgrade to 250cc and the braking system improved. Over 160,000 Isetta's where produced and the royalties that Rivolta received on each sale funded the next development which would place the name ISO in the annuls of Italian motoring legend. Many credit the Isetta with keeping the BMW out of bankruptcy through 1959 -1960.
The Rivolta -Bizzarrini relationship: Birth of the Iso Grifo
Meanwhile, back in the Bresso factory in Italy, Rivolta was on something intended to compete with Ferrari and Maserati GTs. First launched was the Iso Rivolta IR 300 that premiered at the Torino Show in 1962. The IR 300 was an elegant 2 + 2 Coupé with well-balanced technical components and outstanding driving performance. It was powered by a 5.4 L Chevrolet V8 Small-Block engine and transmission that both came from General Motors in Detroit. The deDion suspension and four-wheel disc braking system came from the large Jaguars of the time.
Iso's most iconic automobile, however, was the Grifo. The Iso Grifo was a limited production grand tourer manufactured between 1965 and 1974. It also utilized a series of American power trains and components supplied by Chevrolet and Ford to ensure performance and maximize reliability.
Styling was done by Giorgetto Giugiaro at Bertone. The mechanicals were attributed to Giotto Bizzarrini, but the reality was that much of the mechanicals where in done in-house at Rivolta. Rivolta and Bizzarini needed each other for business reasons: Rivolta needed to attach the Bizzarini reputation to the performance perception of the new vehicle to compete with the likes of Ferrari and Maserati. The high performance scooters and the cute, spunky Isetta's just didn't quite convey the performance of the racing pedigrees of the other Italian sports car marques.
Who was Giotto Bizzarrini
Bizzarini started his career at Alfa Romeo in 1954 and in 1957 he moved over to Ferrari, eventually becoming controller of experimental, Sports and GT car development. He worked at Ferrari as a developer, designer, test driver, and chief engineer for five years. His developments there included the Ferrari 250 TR, the Ferrari 250 GT SWB (Short Wheelbase Berlinetta, aka "Berlinetta Passo Corto"), and the 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO. Bizzarrini was fired by Ferrari during the "Palace Revolt" of 1961.
Bizzarini became part of Automobili Turismo e Sport, ATS, a company started by the ex-Ferrari engineers to build a Formula 1 single seater and a GT sport car, the A.T.S. Serenissima. One of ATS's financial backers, Count Giovanni Volpi, hired Bizzarrini to upgrade a Ferrari 250 GT SWB, to GTO specifications. This resulted in the "Ferrari 250 GT SWB Drogo" also known as the "Breadvan" which became quite famous in it's own right. But, that, as they say is another story...
Bizzarrini's engineering company, Societa Autostar, was commissioned to design a V-12 engine for a GT car to be built by another dissatisfied Ferrari customer, Ferruccio Lamborghini. Lamborghini considered the resulting engine to be too highly strung, and ordered that it be detuned.
As you can see, Bizzarini was involved in some pretty significant sports cars, but, although he had developed quite a reputation, by the time he was asked to join forces with Rivolta, he lacked the bankroll to support his racing habit.
Rivolta had become financially stable as a result of the BMW license of the Isetta but needed Bizzarrini's reputation to add to the vehicle they had already almost fully developed in-house. The two joined forces. It was a short lived relationship and neither of the high strung alfa males got along with the other. But, in that brief period, they created the Iso Rivolta GT, and the Iso Grifo A3L and A3C.
THE ISO GRIFO and Racing
The Iso Grifo A3L was a monstrous idea for a super coupé, the L coming from Lusso. The result of the brilliant Giugiaro and Bizzarrini working together, it was based on a shortened Iso Rivolta GT chassis and was debuted at the 1963 Turin Auto show.
The Grifo epitomised the 1960s Italian style with its handsome low and wide handmade bodywork. It was the fastest production car tested by Autocar Magazine in 1966 with a top speed of 160 mph. Later versions of the Grifo were powered by a big block Chevrolet Corvette 435 bhp engine. These 90 handbuilt units are distinguishable by the raised "pagoda style" scoop bonnet. Some of these Iso Grifo 7 Litri units were rebuilt later with even bigger engines.
It was an aggressively designed machine, oriented to endurance races. It used normal ISO underpinnings but the engine was moved further back in the chassis frame than the Grifo A3L, protruding well into the driver's cabin, fitted with hot cams and fed by four big Weber carburettors, giving more than 400 bhp.
Around 29 A3C sport cars were built under the ISO name. Five of these 29 cars were bodied in plastic/fiberglass by Piero Drogo at Carrozzeria Sports Cars in Modena.
A3Cs were widely raced. Some cars entered the 1964 and 1965 Le Mans 24 hour, 1965 Nürburgring 1000 and 1965 Sebring. It achieved a Le Mans class win in both years and a 9th overall in 1965 with no factory support. A3Cs were one of the fastest cars on Le Mans' Mulsanne Straight in both years.
The Future: IsoRivolta Vision Gran Turismo by Zagato
For the gamer's out there who have competed on Sony’s "Gran Turismo Sport", you may recognize the IsoRivolta Gran Turismo that showed up in reality at the Tokyo Motor Show last month. That "pagoda style" scoop bonnet that features the iconic Rivolta Grifo, is a nice throwback to the Iso Grifo 7 Litri.
Zagato announced that it will build between three and five of them for actual customers.
“The IsoRivolta Vision Gran Turismo was created to drive in the virtual-reality world, a world created by Gran Turismo. There is no mass in the virtual-reality world, as it remains a place that exists only in our imagination... Like a Mobius strip, the PlayStation game has allowed ourselves to be transported from reality and thrust into a world of pure fantasy, and then back again. The body style of the IsoRivolta Vision contradicts the sense of oneness that has evolved over the past hundred years of automotive design... Our next wish is that this car, which was born in Gran Turismo, will take to the road in real life and one day grow larger in your rear view mirror, eventually passing you at high speed. When this happens, you will feel the limits of your imagination being severely tested, blurring reality.”
~Norihiko Harada, VP of Design at Zagato
We caught up with Steve Lebrun at the 2017 PVGP Historics at Pitt Race where he talks about his beautiful recreation of an Alfa Romeo GTAm and the heartbreak that can come with racing.
About the ALFA ROMEO GTAM CARS
The GTAm (1969–1971) could produce up to 240 PS (180 kW; 240 hp) in the 2000 cc car—a car usually related to the GTA, but unlike the GTA derived from the GTV 1750 (US version). The 1750 GTAm (later called 2000 GTAm when the 2000 GTV was introduced) was created in 1969.
There are two schools of thought about the "Am" moniker, neither one ever having been officially confirmed by Alfa Romeo: One expands Am to Alleggerita Maggiorata (Italian: lightened enlarged), the other America Maggiorata. The car had a full steel body modified with aluminium and / or plastic parts. Because of an increased minimum weight in 1971 (up from 920 to 940 kg), the GTAm's had less need for aluminium and / or plastic parts.
The base for the GTAm was the 1750 GTV with a SPICA mechanical fuel injection system. The majority of the genuine GTAm's built by Autodelta have a chassis number starting with 105.51.XXXXXX. The European market 1750 GTV with dual carburettors from Dell'Orto or Weber carburetor and chassisnumbers starting with 105.44.XXXXXX was also used as a base.
The same goes for the 2000 GTV and the 1300 GT Junior bodyshell that was lighter. Note that some racing teams and private workshops ordered the parts from Autodelta and other tuners and assembled the cars themselves on a new or existing bodyshell.
The original 1750 engine block (actually 1779 cc) was used and by inserting a monosleeve instead of four individual cylinderliners, received 1985 cc and later to 1999 cc to participate in the 2000 cc class, explaining the "maggiorata" (enlarged).
According to the sources, some 40 GTAm's were built by Autodelta and by private workshops. This number is difficult to verify as the GTAm's didn't have their own specific chassis number series. In the second revised edition of the book `Alleggerita` (written by Tony Adriaensens & Patrick Dasse), published in 2012 by Dingwort Verlag, you will find the most complete list available of GTAm's.
Dave Lebrun takes a few minutes for an interview about his 1967 Alfa Romeo Giulia GTV right before the Group 4 Race on Sunday during the 2017 PVGP Historics at Pitt Race.
by Wallace Wyss for Concourso Italiano
July 23, 1934 – June 1, 2017
We lost Tom Tjaarda last week. Tom, a member of the Concorso Italiano Hall of Fame, was revered by attendees, especially so by the owners of DeTomaso Panteras. He achieved the American car enthusiast’s dream of designing cars in Italy, and I always envied him. Tom chose the right era, the ‘60s, to go there and am thankful that we American enthusiasts had one of us in Italy, making the Italian designs practical enough to bring to these shores.
We know Tom best for his Pantera design, both the original and the L model. But, Tom also did a stint at Pininfarina where he designed two Ferraris that reached production—the 330GT and the 365 California Spyder, as well as the Fiat 124—a mass market sports car that even influences today’s Fiat 124
When you look back at Tom’s career, it’s interesting that he earned a degree in architecture at the University of Michigan, but instead chose to work as a car designer. He spent almost his whole career—spanning five decades—in Italy. Tom chose the most exciting time to be there, the ‘60s and the ‘70s. Every time I met Tom at Monterey (after first interviewing him in 1970 at the Pantera rollout) I coaxed a little more of the story out of him about this car or that. Fortunately,
Tom had begun writing for Britain’s OCTANE magazine, telling the “back story” of many a design, some of which only made it to the “prototipo” stage. I think his proudest moments were when some one-off design he had done was found, restored and made its re-debut at a concours, as if to say: “See– this one should have made it to production…..”
written by Bernard Martin
Vincent Vaccaro, from South Salem NY has vintage racing for a little over 9 years. He purchased his current racer, a 1972 Alfa Romeo GTV five years ago. Prior to this car Vince raced a 1959 Alfa Romeo Giulietta which he campaigned in Pittsbrugh for 4 years when the track was called Beaverun.
The 1972 Alfa Romeo GTV 2000, which hits a top speed of around 130 mph has got a 2 litre engine and twin Weber 45s. It's sports a red and black livery that features the Captain Lawrence Brewery Logo, the brewery that's owned by Vince's son Scott and located in Elmsford, NY.
When we asked him about his favorite section of the newly expanded Pitt Race course he got a big smile! "The Downhill corkscrew is just incredible!"
In 2014, Vince was treated to a tour of the newly re-opened Alfa Romeo Museum and he told us that the racing history of Alfa Romeo on display was something that each and every Allfisti should some day make a visit to see.
Vince goes on to explain that the Alfa Romeo racers are a very close community who really support each other during the races.
The Ferrari Club of America, Penn-Jersey Region, as invited the Ferrari Club of America Mid Atlantic Region to join them as their members drive from the Eastern side of PA to the West to witness the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix! This will be an informal, "pay as you go event" to allow maximum flexibility and avoid the need to follow a set, prepaid package.
Pre-Registraiton fo reh Cortile can be done online at the below button. Pre-Registraion for $125 closes THURSDAY JULY 6, 2017 AT MIDNIGHT. You will still be able to register at the Gate on the 15th and/or 16th for $140 but lunches will close when sold out.
Both Clubs will be starting from the Harrisburg area at 10:00 AM on Friday, July 14. Ferrari's are free to show up Friday morning, or stay at a local hotel Thursday night to split up the drive! The Ferrari Club will be stopping for lunch along the way, with an optional stop at the Flight 93 Memorial, ending at a hotel near Pittsburgh's Shenley Park, where everything will be happening.
Ferrari Club members can enjoy the Cortile and 16 other Car Shows and Pre-race practice laps on Saturday and Vintage Racing on Sunday!
The Cortile Cup judging will be on Saturday, giving us a chance to show our cars and maybe win the Pietro Castiglioni Cortile Cup for the best Ferrari!
Sunday is race day and Ferrari Club members will be at the Cortile VIP area race side at Turn 9, the Westinghouse Pond, for a private wine tasting.
Arrival & Dinner Plans
The plan is to go to the #PVGP "Forbes Avenue of Speed" and have dinner at the Bangkok Balcony, which is in the thick of things. The reservation is at 8:00 on Friday Night July 14, 2017.
On Saturday, FCA will be going to the Cortile, followed by dinner at Mitchell's Fish Market. The reservation there is at 7:30.
Please contact Gary Cohen, by email at email@example.com or by phone at 610-283-0864, for more information, cost for the event and/or to sign-up for this event!
For the 2017 Cortile Courtyard of Italian Macchina there are some big plans in the works to make Sunday July 16th a MUST SEE event! The Cortile is very excited to announce "Wine on 9"
With the restoration of the Westinghouse Pond now complete, with the help of Cortile participants gracious donations and support to the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy for this restoration project, we now have the most opulent trackside viewing area of any of the car shows during the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix. In conjunction with the 35th anniversary of the the PVGP we are very excited to announce that we will be taking full advantage of the newly renovated Pond area located on Turn 9 of the track.
Mazza Winery has partnered with the Cortile to host a private wine tasting during the PVGP Parade and opening ceremonies on Sunday July 16, 2017. The VIP area is only open to registered Cortile Car Show participants and will kick off around 11am.
The entire area is shaded within the tree lined track. It's one of the very best places to watch the vintage races cars jockey for position into the apex of Turn 9 and the execute passes on their way up to German Hill.
"Wine on 9" is the brainchild of Deb Schurko,of Pittsburgh Opera gala's fame. According to Deb, "This is really how we've got to use such a gorgeous place! It's so beautiful to begin with and what better place to sit back, savor some good wine and watch vintage racing! It's just the kind of classy thing that the Cortile has become known for!"
We could not agree more!
Wayne Long, Chief Judge and Founder of the Cortile Cup has announced that he has selected a new Judge for the 2017 Cortile Cup Competition. Tom Bungay will be joining the judging team for the 2017 annual event at the Pittsburgh Golf Club on Saturday July15.
Tom has been involved with the collector car business for over 40 years. From racing in the early Monterey Historics, to judging at many West Coast events, Tom has been active in all facets of the hobby.
Tom is currently an active participant in Historic racing, driving in events from COTA to Lime Rock. In addition, he owns and operates a Legacy Motorcoars, a vintage car dealership in Jacksonville, Florida specializing in 50’s and 60’s European sports cars.
A native of Sacramento, California, Tom has been part of the collector car business for over 40 years. Starting with a restoration shop in Sacramento in the late 70’s, Tom moved south to Santa Barbara working with the sales and restoration of Lotus automobiles. This association with Lotus also led to participation in the Monterey Historics for several years. The Monterey Historics, ta premier vintage racing event in the United States, is held yearly at Laguna Seca Raceway in California.
In addition to historic racing, Tom has been active in SCCA road racing since 1970, with a few professional outings, including the Can-Am series in 1981 and Pro Sports 2000. Tom also established Bungay Automobile Appraisals over 25 years ago, a very active company in the collector car market.
About Legacy Motorcars
Legacy Motorcars, LLC. was founded by Tom Bungay, a professional in the collector car business with over 35 years of experience. At Legacy Motorcars they are experts at finding that special collector car that you’ve always dreamed of – and they may even have it in stock!
Their experience in the collector car market will lead to selecting the finest and most suitable vehicle that meets your needs.
Legacy Motorcars also has a pre-owned buyers service, to help you find the exact contemporary vehicle that you want and need, whether it is a slightly used Ferrari or an inexpensive car for your college-bound son or daughter.
2017 Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance Award Winner
At the 2017 Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance tom's 1961 Maserati 3500GT Vignale Spyder was the winner of “BEST OWNER RESTORED” Trophy.
by Bernard Martin, Managing Director, Cortile Italian Car Show
The 2017 Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance exemplified grace under pressure. With a 100% chance of heavy precipitation forecast for Sunday for the scheduled Concours d'Elegance and a sunshine-filled Saturday in the mix, Bill Warner and his team chose to move Sunday’s award-winning Concours to Saturday. No small undertaking.
As I was having lunch on Friday with several other writers, I noted that I had heard that Warner and his team had come up with a "Plan B" back in 2000 if a weather event caused the the Concours to be moved. As happenstance would have it, one to the people at the table chimed in "I'm on the Board and THIS is Plan B. We are in it. There isn't a Place C. We'll see if it works"
It's a momentous task shoehorning a full schedule of Saturday and Sunday events into one day. The Concours show would now coincide with Saturday’s "Cars & Coffee at the Concours presented by Heacock Classic Insurance". The entire Cars and Coffee show field had to be relocated to an adjoining field, transport staff had to move up plans for unloading Concours cars by a full day; with cars that where still en route! It required parking two different cars shows at the same time.
Warner and his staff, according to rumor, had to make it all happen with 40% less volunteers who where only scheduled for a Sunday event. No small undertaking. It went off gracefully. It was a tremendous show. Warner and his team pulled a rabbit out of their hat while herding cats and looked great doing it!
It also made the task of trying to see over 600+ cars in a short period of time just as daunting. Nevertheless, I was able to find some very nice examples of rolling Italian art on both the Concours and Cars and Coffee Showfield.
The Best of Show - Concours de Sport:
The first 10 customers at Ron Lewis Alfa Romeo will be invited to display their new Alfa Romeos within the Proiettore Macchina show at this year’s Cortile.
Each owner will receive lunch amenities, a dash plaque, race program and poster. Alfa Romeo lovers, at Ron Lewis Alfa Romeo, “We Have Your Keys℠” – or should we say, “Abbiamo Tuo Chiavi!”
The Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix, presented by the Greater Pittsburgh Automobile Dealers Foundation, has a mission is to produce a world-class vintage racing event in order to raise funds that help provide residential care, treatment and support individuals with autism and intellectual and developmental disabilities in the Pittsburgh region through the Autism Society of Pittsburgh and Allegheny Valley School. More information is available at http://www.pvgp.org
Founded in 1975, today the Ron Lewis Automotive Group has grown to over 300 employees and seven dealerships located in Pleasant Hills, Waynesburg, Cranberry and Beaver Falls. Our group comprises: Ron Lewis Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram Pleasant Hills; Ron Lewis Ford Beaver Falls; Ron Lewis Chevrolet Beaver Falls; Ron Lewis Kia Beaver Falls; Ron Lewis Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram Fiat Cranberry; Ron Lewis Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram Waynesburg; Ron Lewis Alfa Romeo / Pre-Owned Cranberry.
Our mission is to pleasantly surprise our customers with a remarkable vehicle purchase and ownership experience. We do this by remaining committed to our customers’ experience and remaining competitive on selection and price. Today “We Have Your Keys℠” to over 1,500 vehicles in inventory, offer two body shop locations, are home to Pittsburgh’s Souped Up Jeep℠ and Souped Up Truck℠ services, offer the only Souped Up Garage on the East Coast, and sell everything from under-$9,000 used cars, to heavy duty trucks, to high performance SRT vehicles. Ron Lewis Automotive now proudly offers “On-Demand” services, including test drives, trade appraisals, “Buy Online” capability and vehicle delivery to a customer’s home, office, or location of choice. To learn more about our organization or to shop for your next vehicle online, visit us online at www.ronlewisautomotive.com.
This is a compilation of articles from a variety of sources and contributors. Attrition and sources are always provided at the top and/or the bottom of the posting.
Alfa Romeo Giulia
Alfa Romeo Giulietta Veloce
American Lancia Club
Ferrari Club America
Lancia Flaminia Gtl
New York To Paris
Rob Straw R7 Photography
Ron Lewis Alfa Romeo
Wine On Nine