The jewel-like Alfa Romeo TZ2 model is in effect "The Baby GTO," simply one of the most charismatic smaller-capacity Gran Turismo car designs of all time. Furthermore, the car pictured here has hardly been seen in public since the late 1960s, and it retains all the distinctive TZ2 componentry which some of its sisters have now lost.

These cars were built by former Ferrari Chief Engineer Ing. Carlo Chiti's Autodelta company, which from 1964 became the Alfa factory's quasi-works racing team, its pre-war counterpart therefore having been nothing less than Commendatore Enzo Ferrari's celebrated Scuderia Ferrari.

Research has confirmed that this beautifully presented, highly original Alfa Romeo TZ2 chassis serial 111 is the car entered by Autodelta SpA of Settimo Milanese for Gaston "Gus" Andrey and Formula 3 star Giacomo "Geki" Russo to co-drive in the 1966 Sebring 12-Hour classic. The works TZ2s there ran in the up-to-l600cc Sports Car Class, and qualified consecutively 1-2-3, out-performing Porsches and Ferraris. The Andrey/"Geki" pairing in 111 then won their class and finished 14th overall in this grueling World Championship of Makes event. Autodelta habitually juggled its driver/car combinations, confusing press and public alike. This was clearly the case at Sebring, since some published contemporary reports put Andrea de Adamich/Roberto Bussinello in 111, but Gaston Andrey confirms it was he and "Geki" who were first home in the car, Automobile Year No. 14 (1966-1967) featuring the confirmed correct result ending that season.

The car was then prepared for another classic World Championship race-the punishing 440-mile Targa Florio in Sicily. While Targa specialists Enrico Pinto and Nino Todaro amply demonstrated the stamina, agility and pace of these purpose-built works TZ2s by finishing sensationally 4th overall, the car now offered here-co-driven by "Geki" Russo and veteran Alfa Romeo team driver Teodoro Zeccoli-had also excelled. Henry Manney of Road & Track magazine described how the works TZ2s were driven by "the hairy-armed brigade," and how the bold "Zeccoli pulled himself up to fifth, and impetuously hit a mountain..." The car was just slightly damaged, but seriously delayed, and was still classified 3rd in class, 13th overall. Again Automobile Year confirms the result despite contemporary magazine reports being confused. Alfa Romeo itself, plus such marque authorities as Tony Adriaensens (author of GTA source-history Alleggerita) and TZ2 specialists Vito Witting da Prato and Gys van Beusekrom confirm these results for 111.

In the ADAC 1,000 Kms classic at the Nurburgring, Lucien Bianchi/Herbert Schultze won their class in another TZ2, but despite such success, Alfa Romeo's board then decided to redirect racing investment away from Gran Turismo competition and instead into the new European Touring Car Championship. This policy change left the magnificent TZ2 as not only the last of all works-team GT Alfa Romeos, respects, the most sophisticated. Into the autumn of 1966, Autodelta began selling its team TZ2s to "acceptable" private owners. Chassis 111 went to Giorgio Bianchi of Pistoia to co-drive with fellow privateer, Giuseppe Tronchi. He had previously campaigned a TZ1 under the pseudonym "Lobfusch." They ran 111 together in the 1966 Jolly Hotels Trophy at Monza and in the 1967 Monza 1,000 Kms.

Giorgio Bianchi competed in the major Trento-Bondone mountain climb, the Coppa Citta di Volterra event, finishing 4th in class, won his division in the Trofeo Luigi Fagioli and beat Ferraris with 111 at Vallelunga.

The car passed subsequently to another enthusiastic local owner/driver, Silvano Cecchi, who ran it in the 1969 Mugello 500 kms in addition to several Italian National Championship mountain climbs. The car was then acquired in 1970 by a fuel station-owning enthusiast near Vicenza named Lucio Schiavon, who preserved it virtually unused until it was acquired from him in what is described as "amazingly unspoiled condition" by its current vendor, around 1978. Unfortunately, the first time he took the car out he was fined by the Carabinieri for excessive noise, so he did not venture out on the road in it again.

In Alfa Romeo's original TZ1 team the racing manager had been none other than stylist/coachbuilder Elio Zagato, himself an enthusiastic former racing driver, and through 1964 engine development on those first spaceframe-chassised "Tubolare Zagato" GT cars was master-minded by Virgilio Conrero.

The original tubular-framed, Zagato-bodied TZ1 program had been unveiled at the Turin Salone in October 1962. Two years later Turin saw the radically revised, lowered TZ2 launched. Its chassis manufacture was sub-contracted to Ambrosini and mechanical assembly to Autodelta, a specialist company newly founded by former Ferrari and ATS Chief Engineer Ing. Carlo Chiti in partnership with Ludovico Chizzola. Carrozzeria Zagato produced the fully-equipped bodies. The definitive Alfa Romeo TZ2 was then unveiled at the Geneva Salon in March 1965.

Chief Designer Busso wanted to improve upon the TZ1 by building lower upon a broadly similar chassis. The steering column was lowered, a dry-sump engine saved height, and new 13-inch diameter Campagnolo cast road wheels replaced the TZ1's 15-inch. Zagato devised a lowered body shell to match, with more steeply raked screens, more steeply reclining seats, lowered dashboard, and shorter gear-change lever, high on the tall center tunnel. While the prototype show car was alloy bodied, the strictly limited hand-made production batch of only eleven cars wore molded fiberglass paneling. The magnificent TZ2 was very much a true road-racer, whereas the TZ1s were more race-developed production cars. The TZ2 engine featured larger valves, more radical camshafts and twin-plug ignition. Compression ratio was quoted as 9.7:1, and peak power as 65-170 bhp at a soprano 7,000-7,500 rpm. The TZ2s weighed barely 620-630 kg (1,364-1,384 1bs), producing a power-to-weight ratio of some 275 bhp per ton, or just 8.1 lbs per horsepower.

Maximum speed on a standard 9:41 rear axle was listed as almost 150 mph, with red-line speeds through the five all-synchromesh gears of 43 mph in 1st, 65 mph in 2nd, 96 mph in 3rd, 112 mph in 4th, and 155 mph in top. In its present long-term ownership, 111 has been lovingly and most sympathetically maintained. Its original engine is retained, having been rebuilt l,000 kms ago, the gearbox retains its original ultra-light magnesium casing, while the bodywork was repainted eight years ago. Only listed modification has been the addition of interior carpeting. The car was featured in period Alfa Romeo publicity, when current in Il Quadrifoglio (October 1966) and more recently in AutoCapital (March 1992), for whom it was test-driven by original Autodelta team star Teodoro Zeccoli. It is accompanied by a history file, period published articles, ASI homologation and Italian log book.

While the TZ1 had been priced at 3.7 million lire ($2,300 at today's exchange rate) ex-works, these entirely exclusive TZ2s were purely factory-team racing cars, not marketed as-new to private owners. The Ferrari 250 GTO is common in comparison (three times more of them being built) and in fact the TZ2 is more akin to the Aston Martin Project 212-215 purebred factory cars.

{analysis} The car pictured sold for $929,333 at Brooks' auction at the Nürburgring on August 8, 1998 (including Brooks' buyers commission and converted at U.S $0.56 per Deutschmark). The twelve TZ2s are significant cars in Alfa Romeo's racing history.

Alfa race cars with similar performance for their era, such as the model 33, sell for prices in the low six figures. So what is it about the TZ2 that makes it worth from three quarters of a million dollars on up? The TZ2 has enjoyed considerable success on the racetrack. It was built in small numbers with the Zagato attributes of style and light weight. It offers outstanding performance and handling, even by today's standards. Finally, the TZ2 can be entered in vintage races by replacing the original twin-plug motor and transmission with a modern Twin-Spark Alfa unit. Cars such as this one come up for sale rarely.

The car's body has been altered from its racing appearance, with some vents removed. But even so, buyers can appreciate the scarcity of this 1960s era race car, with its original engine still in place. Its desirability is confirmed by the strong price achieved at auction.

A TZ2 such as this one should be regarded as a top-of-the-line buy for its new owner. Even though it was fully priced, the opportunity to acquire a car of this magnitude does not arrive often.{/analysis}

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