Z-Factor High Five: Beauties, beasts and... buggies?
Alfa Romeo SZ: Il Mostro
When Alfa and Zagato reunited to follow on from their legendary TZ collaborations, there was no option for half-measure styling – especially given the source of the basic underpinnings: the sombre Alfa 75 saloon. The resulting SZ was clothed in plastic body panels seemingly as harsh and angular as possible, but this soon earned it a cult following; many saw it as a two-fingered salute to the sober lines exhibited by its peers.
Though Zagato’s input apparently leaned more towards production than styling, the SZ retained the ‘Z’ badges on its flanks and provided an unexpectedly refined driving experience.
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Aston Martin V8 Zagato Volante: Controversy sells
The V8 Zagato was conceived in a similar manner to the SZ: both companies were embroiled in financial uncertainty and in need of a healthy dose of publicity (and, of course, cash). Again, the combination of provocative coachwork over proven underpinnings was chosen, and despite much objection to the coupé’s awkward bonnet scoop and squared-off grille, the quirky V8 Zagato sold well enough to justify an unplanned production run of Volantes - albeit with a revised grille and deleted scoop.
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Bristol 406: Leaner and meaner
To this day, Bristol remains a byword for old-school British luxury. Back in 1958, however, a handful of 406s was sent to Zagato to be re-clothed in sumptuous Italian coachwork, complete with faired-in headlamps and a bonnet scoop to feed the more potent, BMW-sourced straight-six. Zagato’s lightweight bodywork also trimmed a few hundred kilos from the kerb weight, further improving on the original 406’s restrained performance.
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Lancia Flaminia Sport Zagato: Heyday hero
Unlike Bristol, the modern-day Lancia could hardly have strayed further from its roots; the days of understated excellence in engineering and design are now merely a fond memory.
The 50s heydays saw Pininfarina and Touring soak up the majority of Lancia’s coachbuilding requirements, but as the cars gained weight through luxury trimmings, Zagato was enlisted to construct a ‘Sport’ version of the Flaminia. Taking the shortened GT platform, Zagato used its expertise in aerodynamics and lightweight bodywork to make the most of the 2.5-litre V6’s performance.
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Zagato Milanina Tipo 'E': Shock tactics
Here’s that oddity you’ve been waiting for. Manufactured in the late 80s as a follow-up to the peculiar Zele of the 70s (the coachbuilder’s solution to the oil crisis), the electric Milanina seems perfectly suited for use as a golf buggy – provided you’ve got a more ‘traditional’ Zagato waiting in the car park to impress your fellow club-swingers.
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Photos: Classic Driver dealers / auction houses