Even amongst the more rarefied universe of Portello’s competition cars, there are the outliers, the runts, the ugly sisters. Today, we briefly examine one of this less than happy breed.
Pretty, lovely, delicate. Three words that immediately spring to mind whenever one envisions an Alfa Romeo coupé of the ‘Sixties: Giulietta Coupé, Sprint Speciale, Sprint GT as well as the more rarefied sisters, the Giulia TZ 1 and 2 to name just a few. There does however exist a third Giulia TZ sister, but she was relegated to a dark corner and kept out of sight at AutoDelta for decades.
Ludovico Chizzola, AutoDelta’s co-founder, designed and built the Giulia TZ Prototipo Berlinetta (also known as the TZ 1.5) after a
request by Alfa Romeo to provide a successor to the first aluminium bodied Tubolare Zagato first seen in 1963. Using a modified, shortened Ferrari F2 racer chassis, Chizzola’s TZ 1.5 featured glassfibre bodywork of his own design – a notable feature being the use of gullwing-type doors.
It appears fair to say that Chizzola very much gave rationality, performance and functionality preference over pure aesthetics, resulting in a somewhat unconventionally proportioned body. The TZ 1.5 was almost front-mid engined owing to the familiar 1600cc engine being placed quite far back in the chassis. Twin Weber 45DCOE carburettors provided the engine with fuel. The side and rear windows were made of plexiglass in order to minimise the weight of the vehicle.
The Giulia TZ Prototipo Berlinetta was shorter than the TZ and had only a minimal front overhang. Its cockpit was dominated by a very wide transmission tunnel, and used the steering wheel, switchgear and gearlever taken straight from the original TZ.
When presented with Chizzola’s design, Alfa Romeo’s decision makers declined politely and instead turned to Zagato to come up with a new proposal. The TZ2 that resulted also had a fiberglass body but that was were its similarity with the Prototipo Berlinetta ended. The TZ2 continued the mini GTO look of the original and was deemed much more aesthetically pleasing than Chizzola’s ruthlessly functional design.
AutoDelta’s unwanted TZ 1.5 was subsequently banished to its storage facility and there it remained in disgrace for more than thirty years, before resurfacing at an AutoDelta reunion in 1996 having covered a total distance of a mere 580 kilometers. It was subsequently sold at auction in 2000 and again in 2011, for a final bid of €94,300 – which doesn’t seem all that extravagant for a somewhat unique piece of Alfa Romeo history – even if it is not a classic beauty nor has any real racing pedigree to offer.
In almost any family tree there is at least someone to be found whose appearance, conduct, behaviour or demeanour doesn’t fit with accepted norms. Even in the animal kingdom, there are for instance, many dog, or cat litters that contain at least one offspring that doesn’t look quite right. So it was with the Giulia Tubolare Zagato sisters – but as rock singer, Meat Loaf’s 1978 power ballad once rather memorably proclaimed: “Two out of three ain’t bad.”