Alain de Cadenet explained to me a few years back that he bought his first Ferrari GTO because he couldn't afford the TZ-1 he really wanted

Alfa Romeo replaced the Giulietta in 1962 with the Giulia range of cars, powered by 1,570 cc engines. In 1963, the company introduced a radical aluminum-bodied Zagato coupe incorporating the Kamm tail coda tronca design from the earlier SZ-2 and a low grille with covered headlights.

This was mounted on a tubular steel chassis made from small diameter tubing that bore no resemblance whatsoever to the Giulia product. In fact, the engine, gearbox, and a few other minor components were virtually the only Giulia parts used for the new car, which quickly became known as the TZ-1, for Tubolare Zagato. The rear suspension was innovative and fully independent, with differential-mounted disc brakes and trailing half axles, and many other parts were manufactured exclusively for the car with light alloy Electron components to save weight.

While most of the components were made at the main factory in Portello, the build of the car was entrusted to head competition engineer Carlo Chiti of Autodelta, the quasi factory race team based at Udine.


Chassis 094 was delivered to SOFAR, the Alfa Romeo France central distributorship, on May 14, 1965, finished in white with a black interior. The Alfa Romeo TZ-1 Registry offers the only known history of the car and suggests that it remained in France until September 1989, when it was sold to Holland in non-running condition, fitted with a roll bar, sliding windows, and finished in Alfa red with a brown corduroy interior. In 1994, the owner had the car restored at the Daytona Garage in Leiden before consigning it for sale. There is no real evidence that the car sold and only a passing reference to some possible rally competition and possible owners in Holland, France, and Switzerland. The engine is recorded as being rebuilt in early 1998 before being sold in March at a Brooks auction in Geneva.

SCM Analysis


Number Produced:112
Original List Price:$7,200
Distributor Caps:$15 (single plug); $1,000 (twin plug)
Chassis Number Location:Upper main tube, left side of engine compartment firewall
Engine Number Location:boss on block under front carburetor
Club Info:Alfa Romeo Owners Club
Investment Grade:A

This 1965 Alfa Romeo TZ-1 sold for $379,500 at the Worldwide Group Hilton Head auction, November 4, 2006.

Of all post-war Alfas, I doubt that any come close to the iconic status and intense emotional response engendered by the TZ-1. From the beginning they were seen as beautiful, lithe giant killers, combining light weight, great handling, and good aerodynamics in an arguably streetable package with basically production components.

Alain de Cadenet explained to me a few years back that he bought his first Ferrari GTO (very used) because he couldn’t afford the Alfa Romeo TZ-1 he really wanted. He hasn’t exactly had reason to lament the decision, but the point is real. If you’re a true lover of Italian performance machinery, a TZ is one of those cars you really need to own.


The underlying problem is that of the “cars you really need to own,” the Alfa Romeo TZ-1 is one of the easiest to clone. It’s a fabricated tubular frame with a hand-built aluminum body and mostly production Alfa drivetrain. The car-specific parts (bellhousing, tailshaft, differential housing, and a few others) are relatively simple castings, easy enough to make. Combine that with a relatively large production run (just over 100) and a reasonable number of “lost” chassis (accidents, fires, etc.) and you have a recipe for automotive entrepreneurship.

I have personal knowledge of this. About seven years ago a man associated with my company raised his hand at an auction and bought what was represented as chassis 003. We in turn sold it on to England where it was discovered to be an absolute fake. We bought it back and resold it as a known replica for roughly 20% of a real car’s value. It’s the most money I’ve ever lost on a car deal, a painful lesson and very well learned. If you’re buying a Alfa TZ, be extremely cautious about the provenance; there are a lot of bad ones mingling with the good examples.

I have no direct knowledge of the subject 1965 Alfa Romeo TZ-1, only the catalog copy and the various research materials available to people who know how to look. I’ve never inspected the car (and from the evidence above don’t have a good record of recognizing replicas), so I’m not in any position to pass judgment on how “good” it might or might not be.


A paper chase of the available information suggests that there may be a problem, though. As the catalog notes, the Alfa TZ Registry shows that the car was sold in 1965 and next shows up in 1989, presumably having lived 24 years in France before being rediscovered. There is another resource, however, in a book, Alfa Romeo TZ 1, by Philippe Olczyk. I should mention here that Olczyk is far from everybody’s favorite person (the mention of his name can cause fights in some circles, and his data is considered extremely controversial), but he does appear to have made a serious attempt at tracking down all of the individual chassis histories. He states that chassis 094 was completely destroyed in a garage fire in France (he even gives the address), then reappeared in 1988. He states that he has been told it was a replica that reappeared.

Maybe this is true, maybe not, but it certainly raises a flag about the car. It also gets us into one of the most difficult, arcane, and nuanced issues in the collector car business: what constitutes a “replica”? Race cars in particular have always been “weapons for a battle” and finding any that haven’t been bashed, crashed, gutted, blown up and/or thrown away in the past 40 to 100 years is a major challenge.

The number of old race cars that honestly have all their original bodywork and mechanical components is minuscule. A quick perusal of the Olczyk chassis histories suggests that at least 80% of the TZ-1s have suffered serious crash damage, been rebodied, lost engines, etc. in their lives. There are very few blushing virgins in this business.


So how do you approach the subject 1965 Alfa Romeo TZ-1? Even if Olczyk is correct in stating that the car was in a garage fire, was it really destroyed? It’s possible that the engine or part of the frame survived and the car was rebuilt from that. If nothing else, there may be a clear chain of ownership from the original owner, and though the car was “rebuilt from the tachometer needle” it has legitimate claim to the chassis number.

He may be wrong about a fire and the car may be the original 1965 car; I can’t tell. Worldwide Group told us they were aware of the issues and inspected the car and the provenance extensively before accepting it for auction (see sidebar). They are comfortable that the car is both original and correct. In any case, this specific car is listed in both the TZ 1 Registry and Olczyk’s book, so it has a legitimacy the one I got stuck with (it had simply stolen a “lost” chassis number) could never have. At absolute worst, the car is generally known and accepted in the Alfa community for whatever it is.

It really comes down to whether the price reflects the reality of the car. This 1965 Alfa Romeo TZ-1 sold for $380,000. The current market for a really good TZ is $450,000-$525,000, so it sold at a substantial discount. Obviously, at least some of the bidders knew the issues surrounding the car and they affected the result. If the successful bidder (or the auction company on his behalf) had done enough homework to know the provenance clouds were invalid, it’s entirely possible that the car was very well bought. If not, or if the issues are real, I’d say that the market made the adjustments and set the value for what may or may not be a tainted car.

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