1965 Alfa Romeo TZ-1 Berlinetta

The contentious world of Alfa historians and experts had a moment of rare consensus on this TZ, and no one questioned its parentage

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Though immensely successful as a competition car, Alfa Romeo’s Giulietta Sprint Zagato had been based on the road-going Giulietta Spider platform, a compromise that suited clients who wanted a touring car that could be raced on weekends.

But as the 1960s dawned, the need to keep the Milanese marque’s name at the fore in international GT racing led to an entirely new Alfa Romeo, one designed from the outset with competition in mind. The result was that most desirable of post-war, 4-cylinder Alfa Romeos-the Giulia Tubolare Zagato, or TZ, for short.

First displayed in prototype form at the Turin Motor Show in October 1962, this new competizione model took its Giulia designation from Alfa Romeo’s recently introduced 1.6-liter passenger car range. The Giulia TZ was constructed around a state-of-the-art, multi-tubular spaceframe-hence the name tubolare-and complemented by all-round independent suspension and four-wheel disc brakes.

Like its SZ forebear, the TZ employed wind-cheating, lightweight, aluminium alloy coachwork by Carrozzeria Zagato and took its designer’s already fanatical commitment to weight saving even further. As a result, the TZ tipped the scales at an astonishing 1,455 lb, some 165 lb lighter than the SZ, and with as much as 160 hp available from its 1,570-cc twin-cam 4-cylinder engine in race tune, it was the class of the GT field in its day.

The production TZ-1 Berlinetta was launched at the Geneva Salon in March 1963. Ferrari star Lorenzo Bandini gave the TZ victory on its racing debut at Monza in November that same year, with TZs filling the next three places, and from then on, Alfa’s “baby GTO” proved virtually unbeatable. In 1964, the cars made their international debut in the Sebring 12 Hours, winning their class, and doing it again in the Targa Florio, the Nürburgring 1,000 Km, and the Le Mans 24 Hours. It won the Alpine classic after finishing second in the Tour de Corse and added success in the Tour de France and Paris 1,000 Km.

The TZ was hand-built in limited numbers, a mere 100 being required to satisfy the conditions for homologation. When production ceased in 1967, 112 TZ-1 Berlinettas had been constructed by Alfa’s racing subsidiary, Autodelta. Chassis number 080 was delivered new in April 1965 by SOFAR (Société Française Alfa Romeo) to Claude Journot.

The 1965 Alfa Romeo TZ-1 comes with continuous history of all owners from new, and as the car never left France, the French registration numbers of all owners with dates of ownership can be supplied to interested parties. In superb condition after a ground-up, meticulous restoration while in the ownership of Bernard Consten since 1990, the unmolested TZ-1, chassis number 080, was to our best knowledge never damaged, in spite of some minor French period competition history, including the 1965 Rallye de Lorraine, 1966 Cevennes Hillclimb, and 1966 Tour de Corse.

Following this concours-standard restoration, which is fully photo-documented, including the original bare metal tubular chassis, the car was fitted with its
matching-numbers engine tuned for competition use and won an award at the 2002 edition of the Saint Raphaël “Golf de Valescure” Concours d’Elegance.
It has completed less than 5,000 km since restoration and participated in a trouble-free 2008 edition of the Coupe des Alpes rerun with the 1958 event winner Bernard Consten.