Courtesy of Bonhams
The completion of the three Ferrari 550 GTZ barchetta sports cars bodied by Carrozzeria Zagato successfully concluded the so-called Zero Project. The project was instigated when Zagato received a request from Japanese collector Yoshiyuki Hayashi asking if it would be possible to create a body for his Ferrari 575M, in the style of the famous 250 GTZ berlinetta of 1956. That started the rebodying of six Ferrari 575 GTs and three Ferrari 550 Barchettas. These nine very special Zero Project cars were delivered to selected private owners around the world. When Zagato informed Ferrari of the project, they considered it an ideal opportunity to celebrate the 250 GTZ’s 50th anniversary. The Ferrari 575 GTZ appeared in the Annuario Ferrari, confirming Maranello’s support for the project, and it was not long before other wealthy collectors began inquiring about the possibility of obtaining one of their own. Commissioned by the original, titled owner in consultation with Zagato, this right-hand-drive barchetta Zagato is the last of the series. It comes with a Certificate of Authenticity from Zagato, invoices for Zagato’s work and a photographic record of the project. The current mileage total stands at circa 2,700.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:2001 Ferrari 550 GTZ by Zagato
Years Produced:Zero Project Zagato GTZs were produced 2006–10
Number Produced:Nine total, including six 575 GTZ coupes and three 550 GTZ barchettas
Original List Price:Donor cars valued at $175,000–$275,000. Zagato conversion starts at $850,000
SCM Valuation:N/A
Tune Up Cost:$3,500
Distributor Caps:N/A, individual coils used
Chassis Number Location:Frame rail, passenger’s side of engine compartment
Engine Number Location:Passenger’s side of engine in front, under where the head meets block
Club Info:Ferrari Club of America
Alternatives: 2011 Alfa Romeo TZ3 Stradale, 2002 Aston Martin DB7 Zagato, 2000 Ferrari 550 Barchetta
Investment Grade:B

This car, Lot 21, sold for $755,337, including buyer’s premium, at Bonhams’ Bond Street Sale in London, U.K., on December 7, 2019.

Ugo Zagato founded Carrozzeria Zagato in Milan, Italy, in 1919. Zagato had worked in the aeronautics industry during World War I, where he learned the lightweight construction used in building airplanes. He would transfer that skill to automobiles by building lightweight bodies from a steel framework covered with aluminum panels. The technique was highly successful in competition use and was soon in demand for Grand Touring cars.

Prior to series production, most automobile bodies were hand built, and requesting one built to individual taste was not unusual. As bodies became series produced, it was not economical to deviate from the standard. Additionally, safety and emission standards made one-off designs impractical to attempt. Zagato’s Zero Project revived the tradition wherein well-heeled clients would commission a body builder to construct a bespoke body for a production chassis.

Bespoke Ferraris

The Zero Project worked in part because Zagato started with a production vehicle to build the GTZs. The Ferrari 575M and 550 Barchetta had been designed to meet international safety and emission standards. The car did not require expensive certification to meet most standards. The 550 Barchetta was picked as the basis for the GTZ barchetta because it would not require additional engineering to be built as an open model.

Ferrari was developing a “One to One” project about the time the GTZs were being built. The One to One project was a special program in which Ferrari clients could have production Ferraris trimmed to their individual taste. Ferrari saw the potential in being able to expand their offerings to include bespoke bodywork and readily approved the GTZ project.

Ferrari’s One to One program evolved into the Atelier program, in which Ferrari works directly with a client to build a bespoke car limited only by imagination and pocketbooks.

Zagato is an official coachbuilder for the Atelier program. Now if a client wants a Zagato special, they work directly with Ferrari and Ferrari subcontracts to Zagato. New Zagato projects will run in the $2,000,000 to $3,000,000 range.

Another trip to market

We’ve seen GTZ Zagato #9 before. Nearly nine years ago to the day, Bonhams offered the car at their London sale, where it sold for $552,177. At the time, the build was only months old and the market was just starting a climb.

SCM’s auction reporter offered this opinion: “Very rare and desirable, even with ’58 ’Vette clone rear styling and a front that looks like a goldfish. Bought by a U.K. enthusiast collector who will no doubt enjoy a climb in value.”

I wrote an SCM Ferrari Profile on the sale (March 2011, p. 34), where I noted, “The sale netted the seller roughly $480,000, which means he took a hit of over $550,000.”

I also made these comments: “It appears there weren’t two people in the room to fight over the car, and someone stole it.

“I don’t think there will be another one of the GTZs on the market anytime soon, and if there is, I suspect it will be a very discreet sale for a lot more money.

“The buyer of Number Nine got membership to a very exclusive club for half price.

“It will always be one of the million-dollar Zagatos, despite being bought for much less.

“The buyer is flying in a private jet for the price of a coach ticket.”

A flashy car

Following my profile, SCM ran a Robert Cumberford design analysis of the car (March 2011, p. 36). I think Cumberford disliked everything but the tires. The car is a bit exaggerated and flamboyant in pictures, but that’s Zagato. If the buyer wanted conservative, he could have stayed with the original, 100% safe for all audiences Pininfarina barchetta design.

I’ve seen a couple of the 550/575 GTZs at shows and Tomini Classics’ 6-speed 599 GTZ in Dubai. I find the cars exciting. Yes, they are a bit gimmicky, but that’s the point. These cars are automotive art. Wealthy patrons commissioned these Ferraris. Like all art, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I think Zagato’s goal was accomplished.

Second dance brings romance

Financially, the GTZs have not been great investments. RM Sotheby’s offered a 575 GTZ coupe at Monaco in 2014 that was a no-sale. This is the second time #9 has been to market, and for the second time it has sold for under its build cost.

The 2010 sale of #9 was a bit of a distress sale. The seller was reportedly reorganizing his business and needed the asset gone. It sold for $552,000, which was far less than I thought it was worth.

This time, the car sold for $755,000, which is roughly $200,000 more than the previous sale — and not too much less than its build cost.

It is the price in pounds that tells an interesting story. The 2010 sale was £352,200. The recent sale was £575,000. While the increase in dollars was 35%, the increase in pounds was 63%! The sale was the third-highest sale of the auction. Considering that the British economy is still unsettled as Brexit talks continue — and the Ferrari market is soft — the result was quite impressive.

The Zagato 550/575 GTZs will probably never be upper-echelon Ferraris. They will, however, continue to have a following.

They are real Ferraris that will be invited to the best shows and always draw a crowd. I don’t see much upside from $750,000 for the 550 GTZ, but they are a great value in that range. ♦

(Introductory description courtesy of Bonhams.)

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