GALLERY: Go Behind The Scenes On Our 1964 Alfa Romeo Giulia TZ
The 105 Series Alfa Romeos, the Giulias, are widely loved. They were also widely raced. Still are. Giulia coupes and sedans have been a common choice for enthusiasts looking for a vintage car to modify and take to the track since they were new cars, and back in the 1960s Alfa Romeo had a similar idea. They built a few racing-oriented versions of the 105 Series through their Autodelta competition division, but in 1963 the Tubolare Zagato emerged as the most radical development by far. It featured a tube frame chassis, all aluminum coachwork by Zagato, and it was homologated a year later with a production run of just over 100 examples.
This particular one went to California when it was new in 1964, where it proceeded to live a hard couple of years as a race car. The current owner, David Eichenbaum, picked up the project decades later. And with help from devoted Alfa restorer Conrad Stevenson, it has been returned to its former glory.
David, a car enthusiast with a penchant for post-war Italian sports cars, had been looking for something exotic from the likes of Ferrari, Maserati, or Alfa Romeo, before he honed in on the Giulia TZ. It’s an exceptional sports car that harks from an era that would come to be considered one of the most fruitful for sports cars, but the revolutionary machines still relied on the art and romance of coachbuilding to give them form.
Autodelta made barely over 100 of these cars that Zagato skinned in aluminum, so finding one today requires some hunting. So with not much luck finding any TZ candidates in a well-sorted condition, David took on a project. The car that he decided to start the journey of restoration with was a running, driving race car, but it was far from correct. Repaired and tweaked over the course of its early career on track, David and expert Alfa restorer Conrad Stevenson noted that the TZ was fairly well taken care of, but the repairs and mods over the years had left it far from “correct.”
David and Conrad had become friends during Monterey Car Week, and after talking back and forth about the TZ project, Conrad became what David calls “the commander in chief” of the restoration. The goal was to preserve as much of the original components as possible.
Although they tried to save as much of the car as possible, there was still plenty to do, and Conrad is the type that’s not content if the wrong hose clamps are used, so it was no rush job either. For four years they scoured photos of the car from its 1966 season in the SCCA C-Production class.
When the car first came to the States it was raced by a few Italian drivers-for-hire in Southern California before it was sold to an Alfa Romeo distributor called Mo-Tech. The company was involved in some local racing too, and owners Al and Nadine “Deene” Brengle campaigned the TZ in 1966. She was known in newspaper clippings as the “San Diego Housewife,” but clearly she was more than that. Her husband wanted to race their tube frame Alfa too, but she was always turning quicker laps than him. And Deene’s spouse wasn’t the only person she could out drive, and with this TZ, she became the SCCA South Pacific Champion in her class, C Production.
It was a hard early life for a car to have, and it didn’t escape unscathed. For example, it was rear ended pretty brutally at one point, and received a patched up fiberglass rear end in place of the original aluminum one, which earned it a nickname for a time, “The Duct Tape Special.” Deene finished the ’66 season with the car in this repaired state, emerging as the winner by the end of it.
The story included the Brengle family over half a century later too. With Conrad’s restoration job completed, David brought his TZ to Monterey, where the Brengles’ son Tom came to see it, bringing with him every artifact that remained from the time when his parents owned and raced it. The old parts, literature, press clippings, all of the assorted ephemera and scraps of tangible past are with David now, but as he puts it, he doesn’t own all that stuff, the car does.