The Iso Grifo is a stunner, and why not? It was penned by the illustrious Giorgetto Giugiaro while he was at Bertone. As such, it’s a superb example of his early work, which established his towering reputation. The Grifo was classic Italian 2+2 GT, with the exception of its Chevrolet engine, the 327 CID small block in either 300 or 350 hp form, as used in the Corvette. In the light alloy-bodied Grifo, it resulted in very fine performance in its day, including a top speed of some 150 mph with the 350 hp engine.
But the lure of Chevy’s new big block 427 engine was irresistible, and Iso found a way to shoehorn it into the engine bay. But just like in the Corvette, the hood wouldn’t close, so something had to be done to accommodate the triple carbs and air cleaner. The result is all too obvious.
Here’s a closer look:
The appurtenance that was grafted on cab hardly be called a hood scoop. The term “penthouse” quickly was appropriated as the preferred nomenclature, presumably due to the positive image that it conveyed. Sorry, but it didn’t work for me in 1968, and it still doesn’t. A proper hood scoop would seem to have been a better solution. But here it is, one of more curious historical oddities done in the name of displacement worship.
But then Grifo 7 Litri owners didn’t worry too much about their penthouses, as it was all too easy to show disapproving bystanders its backside, which was of course as svelte as the 327 version. How easy? The 7 Litri had a theoretical top speed of 300 kmh (183 mph). That was pretty exceptional in its day, and even the hottest Ferraris had difficulty matching that. There’s no replacement for displacement, even if it does require a penthouse.