One of the highlights of Friday’s Gooding and Company Scottsdale auction was the sale of the 1963 Iso Grifo A/3L prototype. For many in the audience, it was the first time they’d ever seen the car, and the crowd’s electric reaction helped propel the prototype $100k over its high estimate to a hammer price of $1.6 million.
The A/3L was unlike anything the world had ever seen in 1963. Designed by Giotto Bizzarrini and styled by Bertone’s Giorgetto Giugiaro, the car was first revealed at the Turin Motor Show that year. Company owner Renzo Rivolta immediately approved of the prototype – which would lose a number of interesting touches as it went into production.
Unique to the A/3L was a functionally vented fender and bulging rocker panel that extracted heat from the exhaust headers of the Corvette-based V8 driveline. The lower roofline and beltline were raised for the subsequent production run.
After a stint on the show circuit and then as a factory test mule, the A/3L was imported into the U.S. in the early 1970s. Suffering all the typical indignities of a used car, it was repainted in orange and wore a replacement nosepiece from a later-production Grifo.
A few years later, Winston Goodfellow – a noted classic car author and founder of the Iso/Bizzarrini Owners Club – discovered the car showing 50,000 original kilometers, which is about 31,000 miles.
Goodfellow told friend and Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance judge John Ling about the discovery. Ling purchased the A/3L and commenced a full restoration at his Wisconsin shop, Silverstone Restorations. Scott Grundfor from Grundfor Restorations used a CAD computer system to fabricate the original nose shape from period photographs.
Exquisitely restored to its original Turin Motor Show configuration, the A3/L was presented at the 1989 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, where it won a class award and the Gwenn Graham Memorial Trophy for Most Elegant Closed Car – the first time the prize had ever been awarded to a postwar automobile. Returning to Pebble Beach in 1995, it won First in Class.
The 28th lot to cross the block on Friday, the A/3L was part of a streak of the first 31 cars (interrupted only by a no-sale of a 1965 Jaguar E-Type) to find new owners on the first day of the auction. Sixty-seven total lots sold on Friday, with only 10 no-sales and one withdrawal.
Unfortunately, three of those no-sales were big ticket items: a 1956 Jaguar D-Type failed to sell at $8.85 million, a 1958 Ferrari 250 GT Series I Cabriolet didn’t meet reserve at $6.4 million, and a 1961 Ferrari Series II Cabriolet was close-but-no-cigar at $1.35 million.
The second day of the auction begins Saturday at 11 A.M. MST, and will be live-streamed.