From refrigerators to supercars, Iso Rivolta crossed swam many waters. Today CineCars presents part two of The Iso Rivolta Chronicles; Competing with Vespa.
Iso Rivolta was a pioneering Italian automotive brand in the 1950s and -60s. It was a family business led by engineer Renzo Rivolta, who, in the late 40s, decided to transform his firm from producing fridges to creating motorcycles. Rivolta was right; during the 50s, Italian motorcycle production was booming, led by Piaggio’s Vespa, Innocenti’s Lambretta and of course Iso Moto. He then changed his business to automobiles. From city cars, like the Isetta bubble car, to luxury sports cars with big American V8 muscle.
The Furetto represents the first transformation of Iso Rivolta. Renzo Rivolta understands that the Italian public is in need of a cheap means of transportation. He decides to concentrate on a small scooter, while continuing the production of heaters and refrigerators. The first scooter, although comfortable and safe, is not a big success. The lack of performance is the Achilles heel of the Furetto. The second iteration of scooters is developed by Ing. Speluzzi from Politecnico. In collaboration with Ing. Scarpa he creates a unique engine design, with a single cylinder housing two pistons. The engine displacement is 125cc, with a 2x38mm bore and a 55mm stroke. The ingenious concept produces no less than 6.7 hp at 5200 rpm.
The new engine is first used to power the Iso 125 in 1949. The newcomer is soon rebranded to Iso Scooter, and accompanied in 1950 by the Iso Moto, a lightweight version of the Iso Scooter, without the streamlined bodywork that characterises most scooters. The success of both models encourages the company to produce new versions of the Iso Moto, the Iso GT and the Iso Sport. Both sport the same engine but have larger wheels. There is also a heavy-duty, three wheel version of the scooter on offer, called the Iso Carro. In 1952 the Iso 200 is presented. The engines design is the same, but the displacement increased to 198cc. The larger version of the split cylinder engine is capable of producing 9hp at 4750 rpm.
Although expensive and complex, Iso manages to get a fair share of the market with the Iso Scooter and the Iso Moto. The reliability of the unique engine being one of the largest selling points. Production of small motor bikes and scooters at Iso lasts until 1962. The Iso F/150 being the final series. Meanwhile the company is undergoing another big transformation. This time they are developing into a serious sports car manufacturer.
The Iso Rivolta Chronicles is the first series produced by CineCars’ Italian counterpart An Italian Garage. They are an independent production studio, specialized in automotive videos, aiming for a series of single-topic seasons. This summer CineCars will bring you the full series of The Iso Rivolta Chronicles in HD. Stay tuned for more classic Italian engineering.
Marc GF Zaan