Market Finds: This Alfa Romeo Zagato Isn’t Ready To Hang Up Its Gloves

This Alfa Romeo Zagato Isn’t Ready To Hang Up Its Gloves

By Andrew Golseth
January 5, 2016

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.

Vehicle information
Chassis no.: AR10511 750087
Engine no.: AR0511 00034


Photography courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

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Giacomo Chizzola
Giacomo Chizzola
8 years ago

Wow! Great to see the TZ covered here 🙂 just thought of throwing my 2 cents in since, for once, I can.

Autodelta was co-founded by Carlo Chiti and Lodovico Chizzola, both former Ferrari engineers, quite far from Milan, Alfa Romeo’s HQ and production plants. In fact Autodelta was born in the region of Friuli Venezia Giulia, north-eastern Italy, precisely in Feletto Umberto – Udine on Chizzola’s personal grounds. This was done for various reasons, I can go into them if someone is interested, but I do advise Lodovico’s brother’s (Gianni Chizzola) book “Autodelta” for accurate info. They assembled, tested and tuned mainly the here mentioned Alfa Romeo TZ. The project went so well that Alfa Romeo wanted it under its direct guidance and in sight, therefore in decided to move the whole deal @ Settimo Milanese. Chiti went along, ut stubborn Chizzola was quite cross with this decision and didn’t follow suit. After the TZ came the TZ2, and Autodelta became ever more famous working on GTAs, GTAms and 33s. What a great history I dare say…

Giacomo Chizzola
Giacomo Chizzola
8 years ago

Forgot to mention… Autodelta was born in 1963 and moved to Settimo Milanese in 1965 after great success with the first model, but the legal/administrative headquarters remained in Feletto for a few years after the big relocation, therefore it was common for the racing cars to have UD (Udine) license plates, quite peculiar. One day a client was complimenting A.R.’s CEO Di Nola on the company’s racing successes and, looking at the picture of the 33 with all 4 wheels in the air racing at Sebring with Phill Hill, asked what the letters “UD” on the license plate stood for. Di Nola hadn’t noticed until then and almost went beserk. He had the official pictures blackened out on the license plates and the day after the HQ of Autodelta were definitely brought to Settimo Milanese.

Stephan P
Stephan P
8 years ago

“In 2000 the Zagato was purchased by it’s first non-Swedish care taker”
Since all previous history seems to be from Switzerland perhaps a geography lesson is in order at Petrolicious.
Fabulous car with great Swiss history.

Michael Squeo
Michael Squeo
8 years ago

Wow !!! What a car. I googled the 1964 Targa for some more background, and I’ll be googling this Alfa the rest of the week. In addition to those four GTO’s, this Alfa finished ahead of Dan Gurney’s 289 Cobra and a host of others. Only 28 finished. The 36 DNF’s included a who’s who of racing – Hill, Bondurant, Gregory, Ireland, Bonnier, etc. What a race. I hate to hijack this but car number 92, a Porsche 356 retired on lap one – and was driven by “Ben Hur” and “The Tortoise”. I can’t find their actual identity but it’s clear someone had a sense of humor.

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