1990 Alfa Romeo SZ

Cymon Taylor © 2015, courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

This modern interpretation of the Sprint Zagato was also known internally as the ES-30, or Experimental Sports Three-Liter. This low-production, high-performance automobile was designed by Robert Opron and Antonio Castellana, who had based it on the floorpan of the Group A/IMSA Alfa 75. The front-engine/rear-drive design also borrowed that model’s 5-speed manual rear transaxle and suspension, which was comprised of lower front wishbones with coil springs, transverse links, and an anti-roll bar; in the rear, a De Dion axle with coil springs, trailing arms and an anti-roll bar could be found.

The four-wheel disc brakes were mounted inboard at the rear. The suspension was carefully re-engineered by Giorgio Pianta, a talented test driver and the team manager of the Fiat and Lancia factory rally programs. Sr. Pianta is credited with developing the WRC-winning Fiat 124 Abarth Rally and the 131 Abarth Rally and Lancia 037 Rally, and he was also instrumental in making the Lancia Delta S4 a winner in 1985. Koni produced special shock absorbers for the SZ, and when fitted with high-performance Pirelli P Zero tires, the car was able to sustain more than 1.0G on a skid pad, which was quite outstanding for the day.

The SV was nicknamed “Il Mostro,” or the Monster, due to its angular thermoplastic injection-molded composite body panels, which generated quite a response from the public, although there was no denying its impressive performance. Alfa Romeo originally contracted Zagato to build just 1,000 examples, but demand was such that a total of 1,036 were produced between 1989 and 1991. All but one of the Sprint Veloce coupes were painted red with a gray roof. That single exception was finished in black for Andrea Zagato. Each car carried a special plaque on the console which featured its serial number; this example is number 095.

The virtually brand-new Alfa Romeo Sprint Zagato was recently acquired from its original long-term owner of nearly 25 years, an Alfa Romeo dealership in southern Italy. This daringly styled coupe was built on September 11, 1990, duly registered on 30 September, and assigned license plate number AD022NB. As it was very rarely driven, its odometer read just 349 kilometers (216 miles) at the time of cataloging.

This very unusual Alfa Romeo coupe has been regularly maintained and was recently given a 10,000-kilometer service (although, as noted, it has only driven a fraction of that). It is a highly original and unmolested SZ which still retains its original Italian registration documentation and license plates. It is as fine an example as can be found.