Last week I described Alfa Romeo Sprint Zagato S/N 001, the prototype. It was purchased by a local Alfa club member and is entered in the upcoming SCM1000.
While the car is essentially complete and correct, it has been color-changed and lightly modified over the years. I asked whether you thought he should drive it as is or send it back to Zagato for restoration?
We received a tremendous number of thoughtful responses. I’ve selected a few to share and comment on.
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! — Andrew Stevens
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 its long-term history rather than when it was new. — Dan Powell
KM: Good question. Before any major restoration work is started, some serious research is in order.
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. — Roane Lytle
Drive it until restoration is the only option. — Randy Bauder
KM: I like this perspective. A restoration is not called for right now, so why not enjoy the car until one is needed?
I know this car well. I 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. — Christian Philippsen
Leave it as is… drive it… enjoy it! It’s beautiful as is. — Jeffrey Mader
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? — Shawn Kolbe
KM: We often forget just how long and tedious restorations can be. Why should the owner send the car away for at least three to five years, rather than just drive it now?
I’m with the consensus here. Minty original cars are ideal, but this is not one of them — and never will be, even if expensively “restored” to original specs by Zagato. Drive and enjoy! — Jack Tockston
KM: A perfectly restored car can make an owner afraid to drive it. Then what’s the point?
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. — Mike Haring
KM: There are those dratted headlight covers again! My question would be whether the nose was modified to accommodate them. I doubt it’s just a matter of fixing them in place with a couple of screws.
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. — John Gillespie
Add a real Veloce air cleaner and drive the hell out of it! Leave it alone otherwise… make it work properly and leave the patina. — Bill Gillham
Leave it as it sits and use as so. The changes and modifications throughout its life are its history. What once was is only one chapter of the book of the car’s 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. — Hans Kleinknecht
KM: My sentiments as well. Enjoy this new chapter of this important car’s life.
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. — Lance Dong
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. — Paul H.
Let the car tell you. — Alfasax
KM: This is a thoughtful comment. Drive the car and live with it. It will tell you if it wants to be left alone or restored.
Keep it as is. A beauty in its own right, not to be further adulterated! — Donovan Sisson
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 1300, 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. — Sacha Konigsberg
KM: The Adam of the clan is always an important car, and any decisions about its configuration should be made thoughtfully.
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 and 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 the chair! — Colin Allerdice
Nailed it. No fun as a trailer queen. — Thomas J. Bachman
KM: The consensus seems to be that as the car is a good runner as is, why not enjoy it and put off the restoration questions until later? I agree.
Thank you for all your thoughtful responses. Please share any further musings on the ongoing saga of #001 below.