Ferrari and Zagato. Two names which both have the effect of immediately quickening the pulse of us classic car enthusiasts, because both have of course become an integral part of the more glamorous side of automotive history. Zagato however does have a fair few sceptics. Admitted, there have been some rather controversial Zagato designs, but it’s probably fair to say, that one does not achieve the kind of recognition which Zagato achieved if it weren’t for creating some truly beautiful and sensual shapes too.
We have written about Carrozzeria Zagato’s creations before here on ViaRETRO, and they have always divided our readers in two distinct camps. Zagato has always been associated with the eccentric and peculiar to the extent where some enthusiasts have uniformly tagged them as being outright ugly. Personally, I’m left sat firmly on the fence seeing both arguments of the subject. Zagato no doubt had his inspirational moments and gave us some of the most exquisite designs to see the light of day. They were often daring and brave. But at other times, they went one step further, being directly provocative in their odd and inharmonious design. The Zagato followers have tried to excuse those more unlucky designs with them being designed for functionality and aerodynamics. But I just don’t buy it. History has shown that such priorities usually result in the most phenomenal designs.
Ferrari and Zagato are however not interlinked like most other Italian car manufacturers, and it only lead to a mere six cars in total. The first was a 166MM which was dubbed the Panormico (Mmmm… taste it – what a gorgeous name). It was a hugely dramatic, teardrop shaped coupé which practically summed up all that was known about aerodynamics at the time. Furthermore, the Panoramico is said to have been both lightweight and fast helping it to take victory in the Coppa Inter Europa in 1950.
After the 166MM, Ferrari continued their cooperation with Zagato, but now offering them their new 250GT series for them to work their magic on. The intention with these 250GT Zagatos was still to create lighter and more aerodynamic Ferraris to win races, and the first four of these 250GTZ’s did indeed experience significant success in several of the races they were entered in. They were of course entirely hand-built specials and therefore each car differed slightly from the others. Only the first three had the Zagato signature double-bubble roof and two of the GTZ’s had faired in headlights.
The Ferrari 250 GT Tdf Zagato was also called the 250 GTZ or the Tour de France Zagato, and was no doubt an astonishing sportscar. One of Zagato’s masterpieces and in my opinion maybe even almost on par with his painstakingly beautiful Maserati A6G Zagato. Few could like Zagato raise car design to an art form. Yet I maintain that it was only almost as perfect as the Maserati A6G, as the rear wing had a somewhat unfortunate bulging shape which just didn’t gel properly with the rest of the car. Nit-picking; yes, but at this level of car design, I feel that is entirely justified.
Well, we’re all celebrating the centenary of Carrozzeria Zagato this year, and our International Editor kicked off the celebrations by writing about something as comparatively mundane as a Volvo Zagato. Subsequently, our own classic-car-show-junkie, Tony Wawryk, has been on a constant look out for the odd Zagato appearing at the numerous events he reports from. All of this commotion reminded me of a particular Ferrari 250GT which DK-Engineering in the UK sold some five or six years ago. Back then, I spent quite some time admiring the many studio pictures of the 250GT which were part of the advert on their website:
However, this particular Ferrari 250GTZ was rebodied during the 1990’s – albeit as a so-called Sanction II car with its new body being created under direction from none other than Mr. Elio Zagato – son of Ugo Zagato who of course founded Carrozzeri Zagato back in 1919. So it was not one of those five original Zagato 250GT’s. Instead it started life as a LWB 250GT Boano – another thoroughly stunning and elegant sixties Ferrari. Its chassis number sits right between two of the original Zagato 250GT’s, but I can’t help but ask myself: Does that really justify its destiny? Did this elegant and also rare Boano deserve ending up as a chopped up Zagato recreation?
So once the Zagato hysteria has subdued a little and we’ve all caught our breath again, the next obvious question sneaks in: Would it not have been better to preserve the original and graceful Boano body? In my opinion, there can be no doubt. Yes, it would! But what say all our well-informed ViaRETRO readers?