Styling house Zagato has always done things its own way. We choose ten of our favourite designs from the Milan couturier

Alfa Romeo Giulietta SZ

Top 10 Zagato designs

When the SZ was displayed as an official Alfa model at the 1960 Geneva Salon, variations of the theme had already been cleaning up in small-capacity classes of sports car racing for four years. Bertone’s lovely Giulietta SS had been the factory-sanctioned competition model but it proved too heavy for the purpose, its shapely backside being handed to it on a regular basis by Zagato’s featherweight product. The parent firm was obliged to take it on as a production model, and Zagato followed though in ’61 with the longer, lower and wider ‘Coda Tronco’ Kamn-tail variant.

AutoFact: A mere 30 ‘Coda Tronco’ versions were made.

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Fiat 8V

Top 10 Zagato designs

Zagato crafted its first 8V outline in 1952. It followed through the following year with an open barchetta version, before putting its GT take into production (all things being relative). Except that this being Zagato, no two cars were ever truly alike. Front and hind treatments often differed, some cars bearing the trademark ‘double-bubble’ roofs, supposedly on the grounds of adding extra headroom. In 1955, the firm bought several leftover 8Vs from Fiat and carried on crafting cars into the late ’50s: 'leftover' because the 8V had been quietly dropped from Fiat’s line-up.

AutoFact: Company principal Elio Zagato enjoyed title-winning success racing 8Vs.

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Alfa Romeo Giulia TZ1

Top 10 Zagato designs

The glorious TZ1 (Tubulare Zagato – the ‘1’ bit was added retrospectively) picked up from where the SZ left off. Penned by future BMW design chief Ercole Spada, this super-streamlined GT first ventured trackside in October 1963. Based largely on Giulia running gear, there was little to touch it in the 1600cc class, with a debut win at Monza acting as a prelude to complete domination of the ’64 season. This saw category honours in the Sebring 12 Hours, Le Mans, Nürburgring 1000km race and Targa Florio, just for starters. The sexier-still, glassfibre-bodied TZ2 arrived midway through 1965.

AutoFact: According to Spada, the TZ1 began life as an Abarth project.

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Ferrari 250GTZ

Top 10 Zagato designs

Zagato has been dressing Ferraris for almost as long as the marque has existed, starting with the 166-based confections in 1949. Arguably its most beautiful offering was the 1957 250GTZ. Current principal Andrea Zagato said in 2014: 'For me, it is among the most beautiful Ferraris ever made. My father Elio worked closely with Fabio Luigi Rapi on the styling, and I think the 250GTZ is a masterpiece. We made five cars, all of which differed in detail. I believe they all still exist, too.' More recent efforts have included the Testarossa-based FZ93, which remained unique, and the pretty, Nori Harada-styled 575GTZ.

AutoFact: Further ‘Sanction II’ 250s have been made in recent years.

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Maserati A6G54

Top 10 Zagato designs

As with most super-exclusive exotics of the day, a variety of coachbuilders left their mark on the A6G54. Pietro Frua and Serafino Allemano both produced lovely outlines, yet Zagato typically went its own idiosyncratic way and shaped a series of pared-back road-racers. Aside from the coupés, the Milanese styling house also fashioned a Spider variant, which sadly remained unique. Later examples had slightly flared rear arches and broader hindquarters, along with larger back windows mounted higher in the body. These cars represent an alluring alchemy of grace and eccentricity that typified the firm’s output in the 1950s.

AutoFact: Zagato also bodied a 450S sports-racer, but designer Frank Costin reckoned it made a hash of things…

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Porsche Barchetta Zagato

Top 10 Zagato designs

Porsche isn’t the first name that springs to mind when you think of Zagato, and this one-off remains forever in the shadows, as it was destroyed in period. The Barchetta Zagato was built at the behest of former Mille Miglia and Le Mans regular Claude Storez in 1957. The Parisian was a star in DB Panhards before moving on to a Porsche 550 and 356 Carrera A. He scored four race wins and several podium positions aboard the be-finned Zagato confection, before crashing it with fatal consequences in February 1959. In 2010, Zagato announced plans to build a small run of recreations (pictured).

AutoFact: More recently, Zagato reworked a Carrera GT supercar.

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Aston Martin DB4GTZ

Top 10 Zagato designs

Zagato and Aston Martin have a symbiotic relationship that stretches as far back as 1960. There have been several collaborations over the years, even if some of the more recent models to wear the famous Z logo weren’t styled in Italy. But it’s this, the template-setting original, that remains an icon in both firms’ storied histories. The remarkable thing here is that Ercole Spada was only 22 years old when he penned his take on the DB4 theme. What’s more, he hadn’t designed an entire car before. Twenty were purportedly made, but rather more survive decades on…

AutoFact: DB4GTZs were raced in period by Stirling Moss, Jim Clark, Bruce McLaren and Graham Warner.

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Alfa Romeo Junior Zagato

Top 10 Zagato designs

Styled by Ercole Spada at the height of his powers, this take on the Alfa 105-series theme wasn’t warmly received when unveiled in 1969, if only for the visuals. This cast a long shadow. All manner of copyists followed in its wake, not least the first-generation Honda CR-X, but none match the purity of the template-setting original. Even now the styling remains an acquired taste, and it is somewhat colour sensitive (green or white is preferable). Yet the Junior Zagato looks infinitely more exotic than its Bertone-shaped stablemate.

AutoFact: A mid-engined prototype was evaluated for motor-racing applications.

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Lancia Hyena

Top 10 Zagato designs

This sublime sports-coupé was conceived by noted collector/dealer Paul Koot of The Netherlands, and styled by Marco Pedracini. Based on the rally-proven Delta Integrale platform, complete with four-wheel drive, its chances were undone by a changing of the guard at Lancia’s parent company, Fiat, which abruptly withdrew its support, even of the tacit variety. As such, Integrales had to be purchased from dealers and stripped at Koot’s Lusso Service facility before the cars were bodied in Italy. Launched at the Brussels Motor Show in January 1992, only 25 were made including the original prototype. The project was canned in ’93.

AutoFact: Zagato later reworked the styling for its Audi-based Zuma, which remained unique.

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Alfa Romeo TZ3 Stradale

Top 10 Zagato designs

This distinctive machine remains controversial among Alfa fans, as it has remarkably little Alfa content. It was predated by the TZ3 Corsa, a unique sports car which boasted a carbon-fibre frame and hand-beaten aluminium body panels. The Stradale was a different beast entirely. While its Norihiko Harada-penned outline borrowed styling cues from the classic TZ1 and TZ2 models, this machine was vast by comparison. That was largely due to the fact that it was based on a Dodge Viper ACR-X, complete with V10 engine. Dodge was now part of Fiat, which owned Alfa Romeo, so it sort of made sense. Ish.

AutoFact: Nine cars were purportedly made – but this is debatable.

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