The Family Reunion and a Hot Babe.
I am drawn in and held captive by a long list of things that include my wife’s hazel eyes, one-off hand crafted radiator caps, the deep 3 hour silence when climbing Mt Hamilton at dawn, the hum-rumble-pop-hiss of a pre-1925 car, and good Gelato. I’m also drawn to the eccentric, miscellaneous, perhaps a bit touched, too bright, far sides of the bell curve.
This post is about the offspring from a clan with the dreamers and head scratchers of the new century we left 16 years ago. What a century it was. Imagine what the Wright Brothers’ neighbors talked about over dinner 1902-1/2. “these two knuckleheads next door are going to make a flying bicycle” … “I don’t want to see you kids anywhere near that place”
Renzo Rivolta’s mother certainly tripped over the machines he dragged home and disassembled as a young boy. Ever step on a Lego? Fast forward from the head swats and “you better do your homework and forget these machines” to 1950 when he was building scooters and refrigerators at Iso Autoveicoli S.p.A. Post war Italy was a mess and the path to regaining its power could really use a mass produced inexpensive vehicle that moved the tifosi with very little fuel. It had to feel like a car – sip fuel like a scooter – be as simple as a bicycle – get 70+ mpg – fit in the tiniest village pathway and then hit the autostrada. Oh..and it had to have the appeal of an hour glass brunette with hazel eyes holding a double gelato that inspired a little bit of fear. Renzo Rivolta’s family reunion had the bicycle cousins, the scooter clan, the rich aunt, a siren, and a few other guys that actually did their homework. Together they built the ISO Isetta and that was that. “Hey Ma – look what I made? Not bad eh?”
A new family was hatched, La Microvettura’s. Italy now had a smart, good looking, well built, temperamental spawn with mass appeal and a line forming to just get close. I’m still referring to a car but thinking about the woman because the blending and mixing of style, drama, and appeal that the Italians invented is still going strong.
Renzo hit the nail on the head again with the Iso Grifo a.k.a. the daughter of the Isetta. That’s another post but for now sketch out a plan to jumble up a Vette motor, Sophia Loren, Gelato, and enough drama to really annoy Enzo.
The Isetta checked so many boxes in post-war Europe that 161,000 people had to have one. They were licensed to companies in Germany, Brazil, France, and the U.K. I appraised one at a small concourse recently and while I was doing my thing I noticed that there were never less than 5 people around the car taking pictures asking polite questions of ~ What Why? When? Who? ~ A toddler crawled right in because it was in his scale. The owner was all for it and I assume the owner of the unbelievable 1930 V16 Cadillac wouldn’t like sticky fingers and drool on his car. I am also sure the little guy wasn’t captivated by the 22 foot land yacht that looked like a 1930 space ship. The field of 150 cars had a bit of everything but only one car had it all – the very red ’56 ISO Bubbletop Convertible.