This Alfa Romeo Zagato Isn’t Ready To Hang Up Its Gloves
I’m not much for sports—I suppose I was too preoccupied with Hot Wheels, Lego, and Car & Driver issues to spend my youth playing games. Yet, I can appreciate the effort and commitment of professional athletes, especially boxers. Even the automotive obsessed can understand that fighters often retire battered and worn out after a career of vigorous exercise and abuse, which brings me to this 1965 Alfa Romeo Giulia Tubolare Zagato.
The 105 series Alfa Romeo debuted in 1963. The stiff lightweight chassis featured a twin cam four-cylinder, innovative suspension, and disc brakes on all corners, all of which were quite advanced for the time. So much so, the series was produced for over a decade and provided a base for many competition cars. Most notably, Italian coachbuilder Zagato produced several race-aimed models—such as the car you see here.
Alfa Romeo’s competition department Autodelta, founded by former Ferrari engineer Carlo Chiti, collaborated with Zagato to build a 105-based racer for the 1963 FISA Monza Cup series. In order to meet the series’ homologation requirements, a minimum of 100 road-going production units were required for the Gran Turismo category. Zagato set about constructing a slippery all-aluminum body while Autodelta handled the underpinnings to include a space-frame tube chassis, which is where the model got its “Tubolare” name.
Under the vented front clamshell lies a 1,570-cc twin cam four-cylinder derived from the Sprint Speciale and Spider Veloce models. The transmission received a custom short throw handle and robust close-ratio gears. The forward suspension remained primarily standard Giulia spec but the rear was reworked in favor of an independent setup. The team even went so far as to tilt the engine in order to clear the lowered hood line, which simultaneously improved the center of gravity. All of these efforts paid off when two “TZ” Alfas came in 3rd and 4th place in front of four Ferrari 250 GTOs in the 1964 Targa Florio—talk about swinging above their weight class!
This particular car was completed in August 0f 1963 and sold to four-time Swiss Champion, Karl Foitek. Chassis 750087 passed through several owners before Shelby Mustang racer Peter Schetty traded this Autodelta special to Uli Maurer in exchange for a Shelby GT350—I wonder if he regrets that transaction…
Shortly after, Maurer sold the Alfa to James Fortmann—a member of the Bardahl Switzerland race team. Fortmann dispatched the car back to Autodelta in preparation for the upcoming race season. The Zagato TZ-1 placed 5th at the 1968 Nürburgring 1,000 Kilometer endurance followed by a sprint in the Hockenheimring ACS Swiss Championship. During a practice run for the Mugello Grand Prix, the car was damaged and subsequently sent back to Autodelta for repairs.
After the season, the veteran racer was again passed amongst Swiss enthusiasts, losing its original engine somewhere along the way. In 2000, the Zagato was purchased by its first non-Swedish caretaker, J. Pas, who sourced a correct TZ Autodelta engine from chassis number 750066. An active European enthusiast, Pas club raced and rallied the racecar extensively—exactly what the car was born to do.
With our current unhinged vintage automobile market demanding concours quality collectors, it’s refreshing to see an Alfa racecar that actually looks… like a racecar. The aluminum body is scuffed and dented throughout. The cabin materials are heavily worn and the wooden three-spoke wheel is tarnished. This Alfa Romeo Zagato isn’t some 100-point flawless garage queen, long retired from its glory days: it’s a winded competitor in the corner, ready for the next round.
– Early Autodelta homologation racer
– Aluminum body by Zagato
– One of 100 (estimated)
– Finished 5th at the 1968 Nürburgring 1,000 Kilometer
~150 horsepower, 1,570 cc DOHC inline four-cylinder engine, five-speed manual transmission, front and rear independent coil-spring suspension, and four-wheel hydraulic disc brakes. Wheelbase: 2,200 mm.
Chassis no.: AR10511 750087
Engine no.: AR0511 00034
Photography courtesy of RM Sotheby’s