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03/12/2018 398

Z for Zagato! A visit to centenary-old atelier

A warm welcome To Zagato!

With temperature outside easily climbing over 30 degrees Celsius in the shadows, "warm welcome" was the only thought when we arrived to atelier this August. Situated in the north west of Milan and just few minutes away from the Museo Storico Alfa Romeo it is a calm but spectacular place to visit.

We have spent just few moments trying to catch a breath from the heat outside and we are greeted by Ms Diana who is our guide today. The journey begins! Time for another deep breath..

A place where dream cars are born

The magic begins to happen once we get inside the showroom of Zagato. Seen so many times in hundreds of photos, this place indeed makes heart beat faster. There's an absolutely good reason for this! They always host a good number of Zagato-bodied models and definitely we are lucky today to have an opportunity to see and talk about each one of them. During our visit the showroom is filled with 13 different cars. Without further ado, let's look around.

The first model to see is the oldest one in the exposition. It is 1931 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 GS Spider Zagato. Macchina meravigliosa! It is one of the fastest cars built before WW2, and it is multi-times winner of Mille Miglia races, as well. It is powered by 1.8-liter engine which allows it to run at a top speed of approx. 170 km/h. Crazy!

The second showpiece is a meticulous recreation of 1948 Ferrari 166MM Panoramica Berlinetta. It was then built for Antonio Stagnoli and it is the first Ferrari (chassis# 0018M) bodied by Zagato. Owner used it successfully for racing purposes but two years later, he commissioned to re-build the car with an open cigar-shaped body. After that, the original coupe bodywork was lost...  Decades later, in 2007 to be precise, the car was re-created on original chassis #0018M to celebrate 60th anniversary of Ferrari.  This exact car was sitting at the showroom for some extra work.

The next car in the line-up is Maserati GS Zagato. It was originally introduced at Villa d'Este in 2007. It is based on GranSport Spyder and was made under request of Paolo Boffi. The styling echoes to Maserati A6G Zagato of 1954. It has all-aluminium bodywork and its wheelbase is 180mm shorter than original. Most probably, only two examples of this rarity have been built - one silver and one black which was present in the showroom.

Parked next to it is perhaps the most eye-catching example of them all - 1997 Lamborghini L147 prototype that Zagato made as a proposed replacement of Diablo. It has been designed by Norihiko Harada (Ercole Spada's protégé). The proposal got green light from Lamborghini for further development and for demonstration at Geneva Motor Show 1999, but due to Volkswagen buy-out in 1998, the project has been shelved. It is indeed a very impressive model of extreme proportions - muscular shape is embodied in a very wide and low bodywork with Lamborghini engine sitting right behind the driver and passenger. Unfortunately, this Diablo successor remained a real dream car - showroom's superstar.

Sitting quietly next to the monstrous Lamborghini prototype is an Aston Martin DB7 Coupe Zagato made in ~2003-2004. At the end of DB7 production, Zagato made a limited series of just 99 DB7 Coupe examples. Today it is a real collector's car.

Another jaw-dropping machine in the showroom is Zagato Mostro made in 2015. It is based on a chassis of exotic Belgian supercar Gillet Vertigo. However,  as the front grille indicates, it is powered by Maserati. Maserati GranTurismo 4.2-liter V8, to be precise. It allows the car to reach top speed of over 300 km/h. This very special model has been made in super small series of just 5 examples. Anybody is lucky to see one in person, so we are!

Next half of the exhibition

We are now in the middle of the exposition where a refined white car is placed. It is Alfa Romeo TZ3 Stradale made in 2013. Only 9 examples have been constructed of this model. Each one is based on Dodge Viper ACR. This exact car in the showroom, by the way, is owned by none else but Ms Marella Rivolta-Zagato - Andrea Zagato's wife - who is Art Director at the company.

Next in the row is 2008 Bentley Continental GTZ made in just 9 units. Zagato completely redesigned rear-end of the car giving it prominent bumpers, double bubble and round tail as well as two-tone paintwork.

Deeper in the showroom are not only most modern supercars or coachbuilt exotics that the company made in recent years. The gallery also consists of some lovely oldtimers, as well. One of them is 1966 Lancia Flaminia Super Sport Coupe Zagato. Between 1959 and 1967 Zagato made three versions of Flaminia Sport. The Super Sport version was made between 1964 and 1967 in a series of 150 examples.

Its neighbor is a car that immediately puts a smile on a face. It is 1957 Fiat Abarth 750 GT Coupe Zagato. It is based on Fiat 600 and due to its aluminum construction it weighs just over 500kg! This model took second overall place at Mille Miglia in 1956 and won its class in 1957. Typical Zagato signature - double bubble roof - is a top feature of this model too.

Completing the exposition at Zagato showroom are two fabulous oldtimers. The first one is white Iso Rivolta from approx. 1962. Powered by a Corvette engine this is Bertone-bodied masterpiece - a real gem of any collection.

The last real car on site was probably the funniest of them all. It is Iso Isetta bubble car from mid '50s. A very unordinary vehicle which is not(!) three-wheeler as you might think immediately. Actually it has four wheels, the rear pair being much close to each other. The entrance to the car is via front door which opens (together with steering console) a rather spacious cabin with sofa-like seating.

The last but not least exhibit is a neat styling model of the TZ3 Stradale in white - a truly nice accent to an especially tidy and cozy showroom.

What's next for Zagato?

If you followed the article closely enough, you should have counted one car less than we claimed at the beginning. Car #13 at the showroom is an extremely sophisticated prototype that is reaching production soon enough. It is Iso Rivolta Vision GT first shown at Grand Basel show in the autumn of 2017 and then at Tokyo Motor Show of the same year. The car was also present at Geneva Motor Show this year, 2018. Still not driveable 1:1 model, it sits imposingly head to head to its predecessors. It speaks the future design language of Zagato and it will be made for collectors in a small series of 5 examples. Three of which are already spoken for. The car, most probably, will be based on Japanese chassis provided by Dome racing car company. There will be further news regarding this model very soon.

It is a big time for the company which next year celebrates its 100th anniversary! Partnership with Aston Martin is worth another article, but since the Vanquish Zagato Shooting Brake is moving into production at the time of the writing as well as DBZ Centenary Collection is already confirmed, the future for the small but ambitious Italian carrozzeria is very bright. Oh, one more little secret.. Remember, the Lamborghini 5-95 model presented in 2014? The open-top version of the model is also ready and it will be unveiled soon when the time is ready.

Epilogue.

That was one unforgettable day. A real adventure mixed with past stories, present models and hints at the future. The centenary story continues.. On a blank sheet new designs are born. Lunga vita a Zagato!

Text & photos: © www.allcarindex.com

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