Unobjective romance: Daniel Speck and his Iso Rivolta GT


My unobjective romance with the Iso Rivolta GT

Unobjective romance: Daniel Speck and his Iso Rivolta GT-speck

First there was a problem with the clutch, then with the transmission: Daniel Speck with his dream car at an ISO meeting in Italy

Source: Axel E. Catton

For the bestselling author Daniel Speck it was clear for a long time that he had to have an Iso Rivolta GT. But when he finally got his hands on one of the rare copies of his dream car, worries began.

ZDaniel Speck comes to the meeting at Munich’s Marienplatz, which is supposed to be about his love for Italy and Italian cars – by bike. In his successful debut novel "Bella Germania", which has just been reprinted as hardcover, the author tells the story of an Italian immigrant family that spans three generations. The intricate history of the Italian car brand Iso Rivolta plays a special role.

“When I started research ten years ago,” Speck says without being asked, “I wanted to write a family chronicle that deals with the so-called guest workers who came to Germany in the 1950s and 1960s and an essential part of the economic miracle became."

To do this, he devised the fictional story of the German engineer Vincent Schlewitz, who worked for BMW in the mid-fifties travels to Italy to bring the Italian Isetta to Germany. “I grew up in Munich in the 1970s, when there were still a lot of Isettas on the streets. But for me it was always just BMW. "

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While working on "Bella Germania", Speck came across the true story of the Isetta and its origins. Contrary to popular belief, the little cuddle ball is not a BMW development, but was created in 1953 by the forgotten Italian scooter company Iso Rivolta.

With the help of the Isetta ("little Iso"), company patriarch Renzo Rivolta had turned the two-wheeler manufacturer into a car company. However, it was only after the license was granted by BMW that the small Italian car turned into a successful Bavarian model.

Italian elegance and American strength

In the book, Speck not only lets his German engineer find love, but also his automotive sanctuary: the first Gran Turismo by Ingenere Rivolta. "Given that the brand had only built very small cars up until then, the Rivolta GT was a breathtaking car," enthuses Speck.

With a Bertone body and Bizzarrini chassis and a 5.3 liter V8 engine from the American Corvette, the Rivolta GT combined the best of two worlds – Italian elegance and American power and reliability.

After working with this GT, of which less than 800 were built between 1962 and 1970, it was clear to the car fan: he had to have a car like this. “I’ve always loved Italian cars,” says the author. “I’ve been Alfa for many years drove. ”The robust sound and the elegant design have always fascinated him.

“I really loved my first Alfa, the 156 drawn by Walter de Silva. Later the typical sound got lost more and more. ”After the success of the film“ Maria, he tastes not tastes ”, whose script he wrote together with Jan Weiler, he found his way to Porsche.

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He bought a young used 911 three years ago, but that’s where the problems started. “My Alfas ran perfectly, the 911 was a diva. The repairs were expensive, and the pressure to always use original parts increased the costs to exorbitant heights. "

When Speck appeared at a book launch with an Isetta, he finally made the decision to look around for an Iso GT. But the search wasn’t easy. “I always wanted a copy from the second series,” he says. "They have a more elegant wooden dashboard and a nicer interior."

The main problem is the condition of the body

According to experts, only 300 to 400 GTs have survived worldwide, "and perhaps half of them are roadworthy," sighs Speck and orders a second espresso. The biggest problem with the handcrafted GT is the condition of the body, he adds. Many vehicles have been neglected for many years.

Unobjective romance: Daniel Speck and his Iso Rivolta GT-daniel

"A breathtaking car": The Iso Rivolta GT in front of the villa of its creator

Source: Axel E. Catton

"15 or 20 years ago you could buy a car like this for 20,000 marks, nobody wanted it," says Speck with a smile, because such prices are long gone. He now knows the chassis numbers of all GTs on the market. Some of them were out of the question right from the start, so a visit to the owner was unnecessary.

"There was this green one, which was in Belgium, nice color combination, but heavily tinkered with." Speck had other vehicles assessed by specialists. “I was advised against a car that was driven a lot. You don’t know what’s slumbering under the sheet metal, and you often have to make a lot of repairs anyway, ”says Speck.

“I was about to strike one copy in Holland,” says the author. “But driving oldtimers is passion, buying oldtimers Reason. So I asked a friend of mine from Switzerland to go there with me. ”Externally, the blue GT made a good impression.

But a closer examination showed that the price was far too high given the work required. "From the outside the car looked good, but you would have had to do a lot under the sheet metal, from the engine and transmission to the chassis and rusting."

Unobjective romance: Daniel Speck and his Iso Rivolta GT-romance

Precious wood and leather: a look into the cockpit of the Iso Rivolta GT

Source: Axel E. Catton

In the course of his research, Speck has to learn that all isos have to struggle with rust. "Most of them just stood around for a long time, and water collected in critical places."

The last Rivolta GT ever built

Only when Speck met the Berlin ISO specialist Armin Paprzycki did the search pick up speed. "In a roundabout way, we came across chassis number 797, a second series car that I was looking for."

This number is important to Bacon, he repeats it over and over again. Production ceased after this car, it is the last GT ever built. “In addition, the car is just as old as me,” says the writer, who will celebrate his 50th birthday next year.

Unobjective romance: Daniel Speck and his Iso Rivolta GT-daniel

Toggle switch for lighting and ventilation

Source: Axel E. Catton

Paprzycki examined the dark red iso very carefully and left Speck under no illusion: he would easily have to put another 30,000 euros into the car. Sheet metal, paint, chassis, engine, if that were enough. But the substance was good, assures Speck, as if he were encouraging himself again. He finally bought the car at the beginning of the year.

But that was only the beginning of the new owner’s journey. For Speck, the GT was not only intended to be a weekend vehicle, but also to serve as a means of transport for the trip to the presentation of the Italian translation of his book.

For the occasion, his Italian publishing house rented the car maker’s former factory premises. Speck wanted to make a grand entrance at the birthplace of his V8 racing car – not an easy task, because the sports car had been standing around unused for 21 years.

Unobjective romance: Daniel Speck and his Iso Rivolta GT-romance

Ventilation slots on the fender

Source: Axel E. Catton

In Berlin, Speck had the interior freshened up, new carpets moved in, the electrics overhauled, the exhaust made and a new tank installed. For the rest of the work, Speck moved his dream car to Munich, where he hired his house and yard mechanic to get the Iso ready for the trip to Italy. "First there was a problem with the clutch, then with the gearbox, and finally it looked like I would never be able to start the journey."

Iso owners help each other

But in his greatest need, Daniel Speck saw that there is a real Iso family. “Among Iso owners, people are passionate about maintaining the brand and helping each other.” So that he could start his journey, other owners even offered to remove their transmission and lend it to him. "In the end it was a penny that had to be replaced so that I could drive."

The time will come on a Thursday. Speck, who has never owned a classic car, sets off on the 500-kilometer journey back to the birthplace of his Iso GT, to Bresso near Milan, with some family members who want to take part in the memorable event.

Other fans of the brand also use the book launch at the historic location as an opportunity to meet again. Early on, the group meets an Iso GT that is almost three months older and whose journey began in Aarhus, 1,100 kilometers away. Later, Rolf Kussmann joins his perfectly restored GT, the president of the Swiss ISO fan club.

The first section to Lake Constance runs relatively smoothly, Speck drives at 120 km / h in flowing traffic. “After all, my car has been standing around for almost a quarter of a century,” he says. "But everything went fine, the gearbox also held up".

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Nice hobby

Classic cars are far too good for the garage!

Until shortly before Italy: In a traffic jam at the border, the strained technology of the classic car takes its toll. The calcified cooler is the weak point; it quickly makes number 797 too hot in stop-and-go mode. Not until late in the evening does Speck roll into Bresso with his battered GT.

The next morning, Speck sits on the stairs of Villa Rivolta, where the first GT was presented 56 years ago. “This is where my car is at home,” he says. It seems like not only Speck’s GT has finally arrived.

Unobjective romance: Daniel Speck and his Iso Rivolta GT-unobjective

Finally arrived: Daniel Speck with his GT in front of Villa Rivolta

Source: Axel E. Catton

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7 thoughts on “Unobjective romance: Daniel Speck and his Iso Rivolta GT”

  1. Simply driving off after 20 years would be difficult even with a younger, more simply constructed car.
    When the body is good or has been repaired, the mechanics are working, and have received a major overhaul, it goes to the electrical and rubber parts. Both ages and are good for a lot of trouble.
    But if you do that properly and invest another 30 kEur in a good car, you should actually end up with a top car, also in view of the simple, durable US technology. That is a lot of money if the car is generally running. The author has already bothered with a Porsche, so the ISO should take care of some relaxation. Except there are model-specific parts in the interior or decorative parts broken.
    By the way: we put a Ferrari 308, which had stood for 15 years and with some rust, back on the road for 8,000 Eur. 4,000 of them were for the large engine service. For this you get an overhauled GM V8 with gearbox. The rest for electrics, welding and new paint (appropriate B quality).

    The key to oldie fun is willingness to learn, hands with a maximum of 5 thumbs and honest, realistically calculating workshops.

  2. Quite a weird number but such a nice ending 🙂 I hope that the car will be a pleasure for a long time after so much use. It looks really chic. In contrast to today’s cars, almost all of which somehow have no such charm anymore.

  3. Very nice article about a personable madman – one of which many classic car fans have to be counted. The Iso Rivolta was my dream car at the end of the 60s, because you saw quite a few on my vacation in / near St. Tropez. Unfortunately unaffordable for me at the time. May the owner be lucky with his Italian diva!

  4. The wagon had 300 horses under the hood.
    My dream car back then was more like that "Iso Grifo". 😉


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