Following the success of the Giulietta Sprint Zagato of the early 1960s, Alfa Romeo began to devise a replacement for the racing Berlinetta to be built on the new 105 Series platform. The 105 was first introduced in Geneva in March 1962, but it was initially only available as the Giulia T.I. sedan. The older 101 platform temporarily continued in the Giulietta coupés and spiders until appropriate replacements could be developed on the 105 chassis. The new racing Berlinetta benefited from this gradual transition, as it received an unrushed and deliberate engineering process by Delta, Carlo Chiti’s competition concern (soon to be renamed Autodelta).
The resulting Tubolare Zagato, or TZ, first debuted to the public in late 1962 at the Turin Salon, riding a rigid but lightweight tube frame that inspired the model’s name. Continuing its fruitful relationship with the manufacturer, Zagato fashioned beautiful new coachwork in aluminum that aerodynamically exploited the platform’s raw potential.
The new 1,570-cubic centimeter Giulia engine was mounted at a 20-degree angle that required specially cast components, including the intake manifold and the sump. Underneath the rakish coachwork, the standard 105 Series running gear was modified with stiffer springing and a fully independent rear suspension. In contrast, a taller fifth gear, limited-slip differential, and inboard rear disc brakes contributed to superior handling and agility. With Weber carburetors, the motor developed 112 horsepower in street specification but could be tuned to produce 170 for racing use. Weighing just 660 kilograms, the TZ could reach a breath-taking top speed of 215 km/h.
Lorenzo Bandini piloted one of the earliest Tubolare Zagatos to a class win and 2nd overall finish during the model’s racing debut at the Coppa FISA at Monza in November 1963. An impressive string of class victories followed for the TZ at 1964 events, including the 12 Hours of Sebring, the Targa Florio, the Nürburgring 1000 KM, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Tour de France, the Coupe des Alpes, the Tour de Corse, and the Critérium des Cévennes.
Only 101 examples of the TZ were produced through 1967, and the model proved to be one of the most dominant and resilient competitors of its era. With even fewer known survivors remaining today, the TZ has become highly prized by collectors and aficionados for its design, rarity, excellent build quality, competition pedigree, and impressive performance. In the opinion of many enthusiasts, it is the ultimate expression of the classic post-war inline four-cylinder Alfa Romeo sports car.
Images: Zagato; Alfa Romeo