When thinking about Italian cars, brands such as Ferrari and Lamborghini probably come to mind. But there are many, many others – Maserati, Fiat, Lancia, Abarth, Alfa Romeo, to name several. But there are also the lesser-known Italian marques like DeTomaso, Intermeccanica, and Iso.
Today’s post is about that last one – Iso. Founded in 1939, they made cars and motorcycles in Italy through 1974 when the company went bankrupt. I have previously written about the Iso Rivolta Fidia S4, which was briefly the world’s fastest 4-door car when it was introduced in the late 1960s. Around the same time, Iso was also manufacturing this car, the Lele. With its 2+2 layout, it would likely have been a competitor to the Lamborghini Espada, another Grand Tourer. The Lele was one of the last models that Iso made before shutting down production entirely.
I stumbled across this car at the Barrett-Jackson 2019 collector car auction in Scottsdale. Funny enough, the car was not part of the auction, but rather parked outside in the parking lot! It’s not often that I see a car I cannot identify, and I thought at first it might have been another Lamborghini Islero, as they have quite similar body lines. With no visible badging, I went in for a closer look. The only emblem was a small Iso Rivolta badge on the hood.
These are extraordinarily rare cars, with only 285 produced during the five year production run. The chances of simply happening upon one in a random parking lot are unbelievable! After some research online, I learned that the cars came with either small block Chevy or Ford engines. I am not sure which engine this car has, though the split is pretty even with 125 of them being Chevy powered and 160 of them Ford powered.
The Hagerty price guide places the value on these cars at about $30,000 in Fair condition to $70,000 in Concours condition. For those who dream of owning an Italian sports car but with a Ford or Chevy budget, the Lele may be a great alternative to the more common Italian brands. I think it is a super neat car and would love to own one!
Update 1/24/2021: While attending the RM Sotheby’s Scottsdale 2021 auction, I met the owner of this car! He told me that it is a 1972 model, and that it is 1 of 3 equipped with a factory sunroof! I hope that I have the rest of the facts about this car correct!