At a recent Alfa club meeting here in Portland, a member unveiled the prototipo Sprint Zagato, S/N 001. He had purchased it in Italy and had it flown to the U.S. He will be driving it in the upcoming SCM 1000 along with other events.
The car is handsome in its red and black livery, and he is going through it to make it ready. Installations like that sun shade for car can make it even better. If extensive repair is needed, he can bring it to a nearby Alfa Romeo Service Center.
But is it original? Should he care?
It was born an off-white color. The car was then painted red. It still has its original engine and gearbox and interior, including one-off Zagato racing seats.
Research revealed that the car had competed with varying degrees of success in local Italian races in the early 1960s.
Over the years, the nose had been replaced and slightly refashioned. The plexi headlight covers it was wearing when first shown to the public were removed. Whether this was due to accident damage or simply making the car more similar to the later production cars is unknown.
The owner asked the assembled group of Alfisti what they thought he should do to the car? One option was to return the car to Zagato, have it paint the car in its original color and restore the bodywork to “as first built.”
However, the current owner mentioned that he actually liked the red color better than the original.
There are no wrong decisions here. Since the car has already been altered and repainted, nothing he could do would restore what originality remains in the car. If he sent it back to Zagato, he would be erasing the life it has had since the ’60s.
When restoring a race car, we talk about picking its most iconic moment (the year it won Le Mans, for example) and restoring the car to that point. Of course, what you end up with is a fictional notion of what the car was then. Once a car is no longer original, you are recreating a fantasy to the best of your abilities.
What’s your opinion? Should the current owner send the car back to Italy to have it stripped and repainted in its original color? Should he have the bodywork restored to its “as-built” factory configuration with covered headlights?
In other words, should he have Zagato, who built the car originally, try to re-create the way they imagine it was it when it left the factory 62 years ago? The owner says Zagato has the paperwork and records to do just that.
Or should he just preserve the car as is, and drive it and enjoy its lithe, almost sensual 1300-ccs worth of performance?
I have my opinion, and I would like to hear yours.