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  Iso Daytona      

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Country of origin:Italy
Produced in:1966
Designed by:Neri & Bonacini
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:August 02, 2010
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Click here to download printer friendly versionShortly after being delivered as a production Rivolta GT road car, this Iso was most likely involved in a serious crash. The remains were acquired by Milan-based exotic car dealer Carlo Bernasconi. He had much bigger plans for the car than just having it restored to its original configuration. Instead Bernasconi sent the wreck to engineering and coach-building experts Neri & Bonacini to be turned into a sports car of his own design.

For the small Modena based company, this was the second Iso product to come their way in a very short time. A few months earlier Neri & Bonacini had completed an Iso Grifo based side-project for Giotto Bizzarrini; the engineer responsible for the Iso road and racing cars. This car was dubbed Nembo, which was both short for Neri & Bonacini and Italian for 'up in the sky' or 'Superman'. While Bizzarrini's Nembo followed the original design closely, Bernasconi had much bigger plans for what was quickly referred to as the 'Nembo II'.

The heavily damaged body was stripped from the chassis, which was subsequently slightly shortened to 2438 mm (96 in). The mechanicals were mostly left untouched, so the car used a Corvette engine and transmission and featured double wishbones at the front and DeDion axle at the back. Neri & Bonacini created a new body following design suggestions by Bernasconi. He had clearly been inspired by the front- and mid-engined Ferraris of the period like the 250 GTO and 250 LM.

Part of Bernasconi's big plans was to start series production of the car. It first broke cover as the 'Nembo II' in the August 1966 issue of Road & Track magazine. The machine's public debut came at the Italian Grand Prix in September. It is believed that the car was originally marketed not as the 'Nembo II' but as the 'Strale Daytona 6000GT'. According to the very brief Road & Track article, the car was offered for 5,700,000 lire, which was around $9,500 at the time. A delivery time of just three months was promised.

Unfortunately the demand for the 'Strale Daytona' was very limited and it is believed that in the end at least two and no more than five were built. Today the original prototype and a Targa-bodied example are known to have survived. Bernasconi held on to his car until 1991 when it suffered flood damage in Florence. It was completely restored and rechristened the 'Iso Daytona' to do justice to the car's roots and probably also to raise its appeal. Soon after, it was acquired by American vintage racer Bill Binnie.

Before taking to the track in the new addition to his stable, Binnie had the Iso Daytona competition prepared by English experts Lanzante. The extensive work paid off as Binnie raced the unusual car with considerable success across Europe, winning the 1997 Italian Hill Climb Championship and finishing first in class in the 2000 Spa 6 Hours. After several very rewarding seasons, Binnie decided to part with the Iso Daytona late in 2000. It was acquired by a fellow American and shipped to the United States.

The Iso Daytona was sent to Canepa Design for a second restoration and a thorough upgrade. The chassis and suspension were extensively tweaked to improve the handling and increase safety. Ron Shaver completely rebuilt the engine with a genuine 490 bhp as the result. External modifications included a functional scoop on the engine cover and an outside filler-cap. It has since raced at the Monterey Historic Automobile Races twice, including the 2007 edition where it is pictured above.

Still in immaculate condition, the very rare Iso Daytona will be offered at August 2010 RM Auctions 'Sports & Classics of Monterey' sale. It is estimate to sell for a hefty $550,000 - $750,000.

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  Article Image gallery (14) Specifications User Comments (2)