December 21, 2010

VINTAGE: One-Off Alfa By Pininfarina

The Alfa Romeo Giulia 1600 Sport was styled by Pininfarina as a low and aerodynamic coupe. (Photo: Wouter Melissen) 
In 2010, two great Italian companies celebrated anniversaries: Alfa Romeo its 100th and Pininfarina its 80th. Today, we honor them both by taking another look at the Pininfarina-bodied Alfa Romeo Giulia 1600 Sport. 

The one-off show car made a very rare appearance at the Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este this April. It was presented by its Japanese owner in a near time-warp condition, 45 years after it was first shown at the Turin Motor Show. For its originality, the car was awarded the FIVA award. 

Giulia 1600 Sport was penned by Pininfarina's long-time designer Aldo Brovarone. (Photo: Wouter Melissan)
Also on hand was the unique machine's designer Aldo Brovarone. The Alfa Romeo prototype was created during the peak of his career. The base for the Giulia 1600 Sport was the TZ2 competition car and Brovarone further accentuated the low height of the chassis by draping the body over it very tightly. Since its Turin debut, the small coupe has only very rarely been seen and little has been written about it. 

Alfa Romeo had not produced a purpose-built racing car for almost a decade when Carlo Chiti's Autodelta rolled out the TZ in June 1962. In the years before, the Italian manufacturer's racing cars were all modified and even re-bodied road cars. Autodelta was officially independent from Alfa Romeo but received considerably works support and was incorporated in 1964.

The TZ abbreviation is short for Tubulare Zagato and refers to the tubular space-frame chassis and aluminum body designed and manufactured by Zagato. In two slightly different versions, just over 100 examples were built. Not surprisingly, a vast majority were styled by Zagato but Autodelta did supply two of the later, lower chassis to the carrozzeria's rivals Bertone and Pininfarina.

Both design companies decided to use the exceptionally low machine as a basis for a new show car. Bertone was in first with the Canguro (Italian for kangaroo), launched at the 1964 Paris Motor Show. The highly acclaimed design was penned by Giorgietto Giugaro and shared its basic proportions with Zagato's original. Plans to produce a limited run were shot down by Alfa Romeo.

The one-of-a-kind show car remains in pristine original condition. (Photo: Wouter Melissen)
Pininfarina launched their take on the TZ a few months later at the 1965 Turin Motorshow. Known as the Giulia 1600 Sport, the car featured a very distinctive design. It was penned by the company's long-time designer Aldo Brovarone, who certainly reached his artistic peak in the mid-1960s while producing a serious of beautiful show and road cars. The Giulia 1600 Sport was o exception.

Brovarone further accentuated the minimal height of the chassis, one of the last produced, by using long overhangs and pronounced front fenders. Another distinct design cue is the crest on the engine cover, running from the Alfa Romeo badge back. It does not take much imagination to see that the design was a front-engine version of the Ferrari Dino concept shown that same year.

Both show cars were only very rarely seen since their launch. The Canguro was virtually destroyed during testing and only resurfaced in 2005. The history of the Giulia 1600 Sport is somewhat similar but quite in contrast; it has survived in remarkably original condition. Both cars are currently owned by the same Japanese collector.

Shown for the first time for almost a decade, the unique Giulia 1600 Sport was brought out for the 2010 Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este. In the courtyard of the exclusive hotel, the spectacular machine was reunited with Brovarone. The car's creator was on hand when the current owner received the FIVA award for the best-preserved car in the concours. -

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