1961 Alfa Romeo Giulietta
Year of manufacture1961
Libero Liberati, Terni, Italy (acquired new in April 1961 via factory)
Martin Swig, Sausalito, California (acquired circa 1987)
Steve Barney, Greensboro, North Carolina (acquired from the above circa 1990)
Current Owner (acquired from the above in 1997)
Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®, Pebble Beach, California, August 2005
Woodley Park “The Best of France and Italy” Show, Los Angeles, California, November 2005 (Best in Show Italian)
Alfa Romeo Owners Club US National Concours, Portland, Oregon, July 2009 (First in Class)
BMW Fall Festival Lime Rock (2006, 2007, 2008)
Alfa Romeo National Track Event and Portland International HMSA Races, July 2009
Monterey Historic Automobile Races at Laguna Seca (2009, 2012, 2014, 2015)
Angelo Tito Anselmi, Alfa Romeo Giulietta, chassis no. listed on p. 177
Marcello Minerbi, Alfa Romeo-Zagato SZ TZ, chassis no. listed on p. 178
Victory Lane Magazine, September 2009, “HMSA 33rd Portland Historic Races,” p. 43
Victory Lane Magazine, November 2009, featured in article and two photographs, p. 50
Avant-garde Carrozzeria Zagato of Milan has a long and storied history of collaboration with crosstown client Alfa Romeo. The inevitable application of Zagato coachwork upon Alfa Romeo’s popular Giulietta series resulted in a lightweight alloy-bodied, small-bore performance car with a characteristic aerodynamic design especially suited to competition use.
Produced in a limited run of 200 units between 1960 and 1961, the first prototype was commissioned by a privateer racer from a damaged Sprint and competed in September 1956. Its racing success led to an estimated 18 more Sprint Veloce Zagatos, until Alfa Romeo officially offered the Giulietta SZ as a stand-alone model designated by type no. 101.26.
The SZ dominated the 1,300 class in Italian GT racing and was extremely popular with drivers due to its incredible performance, excellent handling, and reliability.
Today, the SZ is a welcome entrant into nearly all concours and competition events worldwide. Its surprisingly modern feel and power-to-weight ratio belie its small displacement, making it the most sporting of the Giulietta lineage.
The car offered here, chassis 10126.00113, was delivered new on April 27, 1961, to racer Libero Liberati of Terni, Italy. Liberati was the 1957 500 cc Motorcycle Grand Prix World Champion, a title he took from the legendary John Surtees. Liberati reportedly raced the car until 1962, when he died in a motorcycle accident.
The SZ’s next known owner of note was Martin Swig, a renowned collector of Alfa Romeos and founder of the California Mille, a San Francisco-based road rally which takes its inspiration from Italy’s famed Mille Miglia. Swig purchased the car in the 1980s from a Dutch collector and raced it alongside its current owner, who purchased the car in 1997 from Steve Barney of Foreign Cars Italia.
The current owner, a founding member of the Vintage Auto Racing Association and a senior judge at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®, treated the SZ to a full bare-metal restoration approximately 12 years ago. With vintage racing in mind, he had the correct AR00120-series engine rebuilt using Megacycle cams, Ross pistons, and Carrillo rods. West Coast Cylinder Heads ported and polished the head, and fitted new valves and springs. The distributor was rebuilt and upgraded using Pertronix electronic ignition. All ancillaries such as the starter, water pump, and generator were rebuilt, along with the Weber 40 DCOE carburetors.
As the restoration was being carried out, a period Facetti air box was found with the car and installed. Facetti, like Conrero, was an Italian tuner who prepped competition cars for privateer teams like Scuderia Ambrosiana, with whom Libero Liberati had been associated.
Additionally, the close-ratio five-speed gearbox and 5.39:1 limited-slip rear end were rebuilt. Front and rear suspension were rebuilt, and Koni shocks were fitted. For racing, a Fuel Safe fuel cell sits in place of the original tank, accessed through an external filler neck. Jet-coated factory Veloce headers lead to a full road exhaust system, with a spare racing exhaust system included.
Additional track equipment, including four rare TZ-style magnesium wheels, are included with the sale. For concours use, the car wears its original and rare alloy-rimmed Borrani wheels and hubcaps. Alloy-calipered front disc brakes and larger Giulia drums bring braking performance up to snuff.
Despite its competition preparation, the interior is presented in road trim. A new wiring harness was fitted during the restoration, along with rebuilt original gauges. A fire suppression system is installed along with a removable roll cage. An attractive wood-rimmed steering wheel is in place, while a smaller Momo racing wheel is included with the spares.
The results of this high-quality restoration were rewarded with an invitation to the 2005 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®, where the SZ took its rightful place on the show field among some of the world’s finest cars.
Following its concours debut, the SZ set about the task it was built for, competing in vintage race events for the next decade at tracks such as Laguna Seca, Lime Rock, Willow Springs, and Portland International. The car benefited from consistent maintenance to retain competitive form and ought to be a candidate for future vintage racing or rallies such as the Colorado Grand.
Certainly one of the most exciting of Alfa Romeo’s postwar cars, this documented Giulietta SZ offers performance, provenance, and panache in a striking package.