We need to begin by understanding what kind of "Junior" this is. The Junior Zagato is not a little-brother Zagato; Junior refers to the engine size.

When Alfa released the Giulia 1600 cc engine in 1963, as a replacement for the Giulietta 1300 cc, Alfisti landed in the next-higher "circulation" tax bracket. To soothe those who enjoyed the smaller-displacement engine (and lower annual tax), Alfa introduced the 1300 Sedan (with new body style) and Sprint (old body style) in 1964.

When the tax-abating 1300 engine finally appeared in the notchback Bertone coupe in 1966, it was called the GT 1300 Junior coupe. So far as I can tell, this is the first instance of the use of the Junior title for the 1300-series engine. I have never been clear on the exact differences between this "new" 1300 Junior engine and the 101-series 1300 cc Giulietta powerplant. My direct questions to Alfa personnel in Arese only elicited the response that the Junior engine benefitted from "all the advances of the 1600 engine."

The Junior line became a virtual duplicate of the Giulia series, with Junior sedns, spiders, coupes and competition coupes, The GTA Junior, in fact, was a wonderfully successful competition car. Like it's larger brother, it sported a dual-plug head, which helped wring 110 SAE hp from its 1290 cc displacement.

Zagato's connections to Alfa go back to the mid-'20s, and the greatest of the classic 1750 and 8C 2300 cars carried Zagato bodies. After the war, Zagato's association with Alfa was renewed with the 1900 CSS coupe. Zagato's first efforts on the Giulietta were frustrated by Alfa's refusal to sell him components, but Zagato eventually negotiated this point and produced the well-known series of Giulia-based Zagato coupes. The follow-on Giulia-based TZ was such a success that it seemed inevitabe that Zagato would rebody one of the GTA Juniors in sleek alloy, aping the TZ's voluptuous lines.

Zagato is the most unpredictable of the styling houses, and the Junior effort took a decidedy unexpected direction. The Junior Zagato introduced in 1969 was steel-bodied tourer with no racing pretensions. There are two reasons for this, I believe. The first was that Alfa wanted to enhance its corporate image by campaigning only stock-appearing cars, hence the GTA and its many variations. The second reason was that Zagato wanted to become a large-volume Alfa associate like Bertone and Pininfarina.

Just after the war, the Zagato factory survived by building Topolino Fiats. This brush with the security of a serial mass production agreement was not forgotten. In 1966, Zagato reorganized and opened a new factory at Terrazzano di Rho. Ugo Zagato was 76 years old and had just signed an agreement with Lancia for the serial production of the Fulvia sport, a touring, not a racing car (the Fulvia HF was handling that assignment).

The agreement to build 92 replicas of the Alfa 1750 Gran Sport Zagato foreshadowed Zagato's decision to get out of racing and concentrate on building high-volume passenger cars. Thus, the decision to make the Junior Zagato a steel-bodied tourer. It was the last car Ugo Zagato would supervise, and he died almost a year before the Junior Zagato went into production.

The Junior Zagato was so successful as a limited-production passenger car that, beginning in 1973, lfa upped its displacement to 1600 cc. Fusi shows a production run of 1,108 Zagato Juniors, certainly few enough to qualify it as a true collectible, although a large number by Zagato standards. ARI did not import the cars into the U.S., though there are quite a few here which were imported by private parties.

The drivetrain of the Junior Zagato is all stock 105 stuff, with a solid rear axle, five-speed gearbox, and unmodified DCOE-carbureted engine. Fit and finish on the car are top-notch, and it provides truly comfortable touring for two. Its wedge shape gives it low sind noise, good mileage and a top speed of just under 110 mph.

The styling is designed to turn heads, and the car would succeed wonderfully in that respect if it weren't for the fact that the Honda CRX stylists must have all taken test drives is a Junior just before penning the lines of Honda's sporty two-seat coupe. While some Junior owners may enjoy driving a "funny-looking CRX," the similarities are frustrating to most. In this litigious era, it's surprising there have been no lawsuits over the design's expropriation by Honda.

Its low production volume assures that the Junior Zagato will remain a valued collectible, while its steel body means that it will resist the everyday door dings alloy-bodied cars must avoid at all costs. A Junior Zagato can still be a distinctive daily driver. This augurs well: historically, the most enjoyable collectibles were the most usable examples of their era. - Pat Braden

{analysis} When we saw our first Junior Z, Ms. Banzer and I were standing outside of Tim Boerner's Alfa dealership in Berkely, negotiating the purchase of an Alfa GTC that had been on sale at his establishment for some months.

The Z pulled up, and Boerner lamented that "if only Alfa had chosen to federalize the import of the Z, it could have been the simple, elegant sports car that would have put Alfa on the American sales map."

Now, as Boerner was, ina ddition to Alfas, trying to peddle the loathsome Aston Martin Lagonda at that time, I'm sure that nearly anything would have looked simple, elegant and, most importantly, saleable by comparison.

Valfredo Pellicciari, our Italian contributing editor in Modena, adds that the Junior Z was regarded as too futuristic when it was introduced in Italy. Also, the fact that it was a Zagato but id didn't race was confusing to Italians, given their memoriex of the SZ and the TZ. Prices for Junior Zs in Italy range from $12,000 to $20,000, according to Pellicciari.

In America, Junior Zs are just another odd Alfa duck, one step easier to maintain that the Montreal, and one step less interesting because of their series 105 mechanicals. During the price-binge of the late '80s, it was really significant if you had one of hte more-rare 1600s. Now, it really doesn't matter and nobody cares much which powerplant you have. If you own a Z, put in whatever engine you want and keep the original in your garage.

The last Price Guide gave a range of $13,500 - $16,500 for 1300 cc Zs, and $15,000 - $18,500 for 1600 cc models. We expect these prices to hold for the next couple of years. Zs will appreciate, but neither ahead nor behind the market at large.

Perhaps the best reason to purchase a Z is it may be the least expensive way to own a true Zagato, built under the supervision of Ugo Zagato. - Keith Martin{/analysis}

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