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.. 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.



  1. Geoffrey Smith

    No question, he should just preserve the car as is, and drive it and enjoy its lithe, almost sensual 1300-ccs worth of performance?

  2. Andrew Stevens

    Drive it and enjoy it! If it gets ‘restored’ by Zagato or whomever, then it will become too shiny and ‘precious’, while at the moment it has the chance to do what it really does best! Make noise and go around corners…

  3. My first thought is to leave it as is (maybe add the headlight covers) and enjoy it. It can always be restored at a later date. Second thought is, when was the car painted red. That may be it’s long term history rather than when it was new.

  4. Personally, I think he should leave it “as is”, though if it were mine, I would try to replace the headlight covers. I think most Alfas and a number of other cars (such as the Datsun 240Z) look better with the headlight covers.

  5. Drive it until restoration is the only option.

  6. Christian Philippsen

    I know this car well. I believe to understand that the new owner intends to drive it. Good for him! It is number 1 and will always be. There will be ample time in the future to return the car to its 1960 Geneva Motor Show specs should the owner so wish. No need to rush anything.

  7. Leave it as is….drive it….enjoy it! It’s beautiful as is.

  8. I’d spend my money (If I had any) on event fees over a restoration…
    Not to mention the lost time actually enjoying DRIVING the car VS its being restored for how many years?

  9. I’m with the consensus here. Minty original cars are ideal, but this not one of them — and never will be even if expensively “restored” to original specs by Zagato. Drive and enjoy!

  10. Agree with other comments – leave it as is, but definitely add the headlight covers!
    Drive it and enjoy it – It can always be restored at a later date.

  11. John Gillespie

    I would replace those plexiglas headlight covers and then call it a day. As others have said there is plenty of time for restoration in the future. For now, drive it and enjoy it. IMHO 😆

  12. I would replace the 101 head with a proper 750 head and replace the DCOEs with proper DCO3s and manifold. Add a real Veloce air cleaner and drive the hell out of it! Leave it alone otherwise. In other words un-cobble it just a bit, make it work properly and leave the Patina.

    • OK I went back and found the Serial Number on the block buried in the BAT photos. 10120*00167* it is an early 101 SS block and that’s the right one for the car. Forget what I said about the 750 head and DCO3s.Do get the air cleaner. You will need it in Oregon.

  13. Hans Kleinknecht

    Leave it as it sits and use as so. The changes and modifications through out its life are it’s history. What is once was is only one chapter of the book of the cars life and there is no gain in erasing the rest of the story. If the new owner wants to change a few things to their liking, they are only adding another page to the volume. Keeping the story going is one of the the privileges of ownership where they can now add a chapter to the book.

  14. As with the majority of commenters, I would leave it as is, but maybe consider a “sympathetic” restoration of the drivetrain to ensure mechanical reliability and then drive it as much as the owner wants.

  15. They were made to drive. Buy a model if you’re just going to look at it

  16. Steve Schaeffer

    Too many red Alfas, lol

  17. If I were adding this car to the Zagato History Museum (should one exist), and I had a hefty endowment, I might return the “prototipo” back to “prototipo” form. Otherwise, I would put any money toward getting it in “Keith Martin” shape- i.e. everything mechanically perfect.

  18. Richard Merrell

    As is.

  19. Let the car tell you.

  20. Donovan Sisson

    Keep it as is. A beauty in it’s own right, not to be further adulterated!

  21. Sacha Konigsberg

    I would definitely send the car to the coachbuilder Zagato. What’s the sense of all the hassle and announcements that he bought Zagato #001 ?
    The wise and warm recommendations of other readers “leave it as it is and drive and enjoy, if you like it red then go ahead, etc “ fits perfectly any giulietta 1.300, SZ and the rest of the lineup but does a small favor when trying to keep the heritage of what is commonly considered “the art and craft of the XX century”. Zagato is most probably the best representative of this art.

  22. Colin Allerdice

    He should do just ONE thing .. buy a fold up chair and keep it in the back of the car. When he takes the Alfa to a show, on a Club run or just does a coffee’n’cake morning, he simply takes out the chair, places it at the rear of the car and sits on it. He will quickly meet many Alfa fans who will want to talk about the car and its journey, and they will say (a) how lucky he is and (b) thank you for bringing it out.
    After three or four years he can restore he chair!

  23. I’m not of the preservationist crowd. I say restore it to its original glory.