Alfa Romeo SZ 'Zagato', 1990
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Alfa Romeo SZ 'Zagato', 1990

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Alfa Romeo SZ 'Sprint Zagato', year 1990. Colour red with a beige leather interior. Only 1036 SZ's have been built.The SZ is also known by the Italian nickname 'Il Mostro', the monster. The SZ is a tremendous driver car with it's sporty 3 Litre V6 engine, it's cart like road holding and ride. Also a fantastic collectors item which has to be in any serious Alfa Romeo collection.

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In the year 1989 Alfa Romeo presented the impressive ES-30 concept car on the Salon of Genève. The concept car was designed by Zagato. Alfa Romeo decided to bring the car into limited production by the name Alfa Romeo SZ. Only 1036 were built. De Alfa Romeo SZ can be seen as the successor of the Alfa Romeo Junior Zagato from the early seventies of the twentieth century. The SZ gives a similar sharp and balanced driving experience but it is much more powerful. Also the interior shows design influences inspired by the Junior Zagato.
The Alfa Romeo SZ was based upon the floor section of a group A Alfa Romeo 75 rally car. The body was manufactured of GRP.
The rear wheel drive SZ was propelled by the beautiful three liter Alfa Romeo V6 engine combined with a five speed manual gearbox. The road holding was fantastic and was praised by many drivers and journalists. The design of the SZ was controversial and eccentric yet very powerful. You love it or you hate it, there is nothing in between. Probably the latter group gave the car it's Italian nickname 'Il Mostro' (the monster). We think the SZ is a true piece of automobile art created by Zagato and a perfect example of fine sports car engineering by Alfa Romeo. The complete package is perfect, interior, exterior, road holding and mechanics. Very impressive is the look over the dash and the bonnet when you are in the drivers seat; stunning!

Technical data

V6 engine
cylinder capacity: 2959 cc.
induction: fuel injection
capacity: 210 bhp. at 6200 rpm.
top-speed: 245 km/h.
acceleration 0-100 km/h: 7.3 sec.
transmission: 5-speed manual gearbox, RWD
brakes: disc brakes all round
weight: 1260 kg.

Alfa Romeo history

The marque Alfa Romeo is one of the most important names in the history of the automobile."Alfa" (Sociètà Anonima Lombardo Fabbrica Automobili) was founded in the year 1910. The company was given the name Alfa Romeo after Mr. Nicolo Romeo bought the firm in the year 1915.

Alfa Romeo started building small automobiles for "everyday" passenger transportation. In the early 1920'ies Alfa Romeo also started engineering and building sports- and racing-cars.
The automobiles built by Alfa Romeo were all technically refined and far ahead of their competitors; New inventions and technical discoveries were engineered, tested and introduced in the production models right away. A good example is the introduction of the double overhead camshafts (DOHC), all Alfa Romeo engines from 1929 up to today are fitted with this superior overhead valve operating principle.

During the thirties and in the end of the forties of the ninetieth century Alfa Romeo was the dominant marque in racing competitions. Alfa Romeo racingcars were able to win all racing competitions which they competed in like Le Mans and the Mille Miglia. In the early thirties Enzo Ferrari was racing for "scruderia"Alfa Romeo and was promoted to be team manager in the late thirties. Alfa Romeo decided to put an end to the racing activities in 1938 and Enzo Ferrari decided to start his own racingcar business in 1940...

Before the second world war Alfa Romeo produced primarily rolling chassis as technical base for passenger automobiles. These rolling chassis were in most cases fitted with body designs created by the famous Italian bodywork artists like Touring and Zagato.
The rolling chassis type being manufactured by Alfa Romeo during these prewar years was the 6C. The 6C chassis/engine combination through the years: 1750/55 bhp. (from 1929), 1900/68 bhp. (from 1933), 2300/68-95 bhp. (from 1934) 2500/ 87-110 bhp. (from 1939).
Next to the Alfa Romeo 6C chassis/engine-combination Alfa Romeo introduced the 8C in the year 1931. The 8C chassis/ engine combination was primarily used for racing- and sportscars. The 8C engine featured eight cylinders-in-line, dry-sump engine lubrication and a blower (compressor) giving the engine a power output of 150 bhp.!
All Alfa Romeo models built before the second world war were fitted with the steering wheel on the right hand side of the car.

After the second world war Alfa Romeo started producing the 6C 2500 again which had been in production for over ten years already. Just in time the people in charge of Alfa Romeo realized that the industry had changed and that the market for large, expensive "tailor made" automobiles was increasing rapidly.
To survive they decided to reconsider their position and started preparing for standardized industrial automobile production as other manufacturers did before following the ideas of Henry Ford.

In the year 1949 the first result of the new Alfa Romeo era saw the light of day; the Alfa Romeo 1900!
The Alfa Romeo 1900 was the first Alfa Romeo built with a unitary bodywork construction (without separate chassis). The car was also the first fully industrial -mass- produced car to come out of the Alfa Romeo factory.
In the early fifties of the ninetieth century Alfa Romeo started to compete in racing-events again...racing their old prewar competition-cars and WINNING with Fangio behind the wheel! Soon thereafter Ferrari, Jaguar and Mercedes were back in winning position.

1954 was the year of introduction of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta series. The Alfa Romeo 1900 was still in production then but production was ceased in the year 1958. The Giulietta series included some very fine classics like the Bertone Sprint, Giulietta SS (Sprint Speciale) and the Pinin Farina Convertible.
The year 1962 saw the introduction of the Giulia series with a handsome, modern and sporty, four-door saloon, a Giulia Spider Veloce (successor of the Alfa Romeo Duetto), a Giulia GTV coupe model by Bertone and an impressive Zagato 1300 junior. The Giulietta SS was prolonged and renamed Giulia SS.

All Giulietta and Giulia models were characterized by their unitary bodywork construction, their powerfull aluminum alloy engines, double overhead camshafts and five speed gearboxes (with floor shift!), excellent roadholding capabilities and excellent body designs.
Alfa Romeo has the honour together with Mercedes Benz to have the greatest racing and sportscar history which continued over many decades. Regretfully it was that in the 1980'ies not very much was left that symbolized that great history. The cars coming out of the factory those days (Alfetta series) were more or less dull (many saloons), not very inspiring - except the Alfetta GTV, quality was poor and no one at Alfa Romeo was thinking of racing anymore for decades.

The Alfetta series was not the bestseller the Giulia has been for Alfa Romeo. Alfa Romeo did have a potential best seller; the Alfasud (a tremendous driver with boxer-engine!) Over one million were sold but overall quality was so bad, the car already rusted during production, that the Alfa Romeo name was crushed. In the mid-eighties Alfa Romeo was ready to shut the factory gates as it was reluctantly taken over by Fiat. It took Fiat/ Alfa Romeo almost fifteen years to rebuilt the old Alfa Romeo image by good marketing and by building better Alfa Romeo cars every generation. It started with the Alfa 33 (with boxer-engine), 75 and 164 (both with rear-wheel drive). Then the new generation 145, 146 and 155 followed (all front wheel drive) Specials were introduced at the same time which hit bulls eye; the GTV and the Spider!
The third generation put Alfa Romeo really back on the map of modern motoring enthusiasts; the Alfa Romeo 156, the 166 and the 147. All well designed by Alfa Romeo the then chief designer Walther de Silva.

© Marc Vorgers

 

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