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  Iso Varedo      

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Country of origin:Italy
Produced in:1972
Designed by:Ercole Spada
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:November 07, 2012
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Click here to download printer friendly versionExactly ten years after debuting the Rivolta GT, Iso returned to the Turin Motor Show in 1972 to reveal the company's very first mid-engined sports car. Piero Rivolta left little to chance and even re-hired Giotto Bizzarrini, who had also been tasked to the first Iso by his father Renzo. Dubbed the Varedo, the new Iso was named after the location of the manufacturer's new factory.

In the time between his tenures at Iso, Bizzarrini had developed several mid-engined machines including the AMC AMX/3. By using a lightened version of the AMX/3 chassis for the Varedo, the new project hit the ground running. The sophisticated tubular chassis was suspended on all four corners by double wishbones. For additional structural rigidity, the fibreglass body was bonded to the chassis.

As was the case with all Isos, the engine was sourced in the United States. Reflecting the recent switch in suppliers from Chevrolet to Ford, the Varedo was powered by a 'Blue Oval' V8. More specifically the Cleveland 351 small block at a relatively mild tune; equipped with a single, four-barrel Motorcraft, it produced 325 bhp. The V8 was mated to a five-speed gearbox produced by ZF in Germany.

Tasked with the exterior design was Ercole Spada, who had recently set up his own company after serving as Zagato's highly acclaimed chief designer. He followed the latest trends and penned a wedge-shaped design with very angular lines. The nose featured pop-up headlights and at the rear the compact machine boasted partly covered wheels. Large rectangular vents were fitted in the engine cover to dissipate the V8's heat.

Rivolta had commissioned the design and construction of the car in March of 1972 but despite Bizzarrini's head start, the Turin show in November proved a difficult deadline. Eventually the Varedo was only partly finished with the interior requiring additional attention. Rivolta decided to simply hide the interior from view by tinting the windows, allowing the non-running prototype to be displayed after all.

The striking Varedo was well received but Piero Rivolta's plans for a limited production run of two or three cars per month never materialised. Suffering the effects of the oil crisis, Iso was sold soon after the Varedo's launch to American Ivo Pera. He had little interest in spending any resources on a brand new car and instead focused on building the existing models. This was not a successful strategy as Iso filed for bankruptcy in 1974.

Meanwhile the unique Varedo had lingered in the corner of the factory. It had been damaged and partly disassembled. Fortunately it was salvaged by Piero Rivolta, who bought it from the company's new owners. He had it restored to full running order and brought it to his new home in Florida. It has since been displayed in the Sarasota Classic Car Museum.

At a very rare outing the one-off Iso Varedo is seen here at the 2012 Quail, a Motorsports Gathering where the 50th anniversary of the Iso Rivolta GT was celebrated.

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  Article Image gallery (8) Specifications User Comments (1)