Zagato is an independent coachbuilding company and total design centre located northwest of Milan in the Terrazzano frazione of Rho, Lombardy, Italy. The company's premises occupy an area of 23,000 square metres (250,000 sq ft), of which 11,000 square metres (120,000 sq ft) are covered.
|Società a responsabilità limitata|
|Founded||Milan, Italy (1919)|
|Andrea Zagato, CEO|
The 1910s: Aeronautics
Ugo Zagato (he was born in Gavello, near Rovigo, on June 25, 1890) began his coachbuilding career in 1919 when he left Officine Aeronautiche Pomilio to set up his own business in Milan. This was: “the construction and repair of bodies for automobiles and airplanes”. He did so with the intent of transferring sophisticated constructional techniques that combined lightness with strength from the aeronautics to the automotive sector. Cars of the time were still bulky and heavy: Ugo Zagato conceived them as lightweight structures, with a frame in sheet aluminium similar to an aircraft fuselage. This change in direction came to represent a fundamental chapter in the history of taste and saw, in Europe, the adoption of the concept of functionalism applied to automotive design.
The 1920s: Racing cars
During the 20s Zagato concentrated on racing cars. In the beginning of the decade he was asked by Alfa Romeo to dress some Alfa Romeo RLs. But in 1925 Vittorio Jano, Alfa Romeo’s Chief Engineer, asked him to create a body for the Alfa 6C 1500, the Alfa Romeo P2’s heir, which should have been light and fast. Zagato, using his Aeronautics culture, succeeded in creating a sleek and light body for the car, which scored a 2nd place OA at the 1927 Mille Miglia and it won the 1928 edition. The 6C 1500 technical qualities were improved also on the Alfa Romeo 6C 1750, which was introduced in 1927. It was bodied in several versions (Turismo, Sport or Granturismo, Super Sport or Gran Sport) and achieved overall victories in the Mille Miglia in 1929 (Campari-Ramponi) and 1930 (Tazio Nuvolari, Achille Varzi, Giuseppe Campari and Pietro Ghersi filled the first four places). Enzo Ferrari started his career at Alfa Romeo in 1929 then founded Scuderia Ferrari as the official team for race Alfas. Also Bugatti, Maserati, Diatto, OM and even Rolls-Royce were clients of Zagato since the beginning.
The 30s: Aerodynamic cars
During these decades, Zagato continued building a variety of aerodynamic cars. He adopted inclined windscreens, more aerodynamic headlights, firstly enclosing them in aluminium hemispheres and then incorporating them within the bodywork, convex bootlids and perforated disc wheels that favoured brake cooling. Thirty-six Zagato bodied cars were at the start of 1938 Mille Miglia.
The 1940s: Panoramic Cars
At the outbreak of the Second World War, Ugo Zagato escaped from Milan and sought refuge at Lake Maggiore. On 13 August 1943 a RAF bombing raid destroyed his coachworks in Corso Sempione road. He found new premises at Saronno, alongside the Isotta Fraschini works, on behalf of which he constructed trucks and military vehicles and a futuristic Monterosa. He returned to Milan at the end of the war and re-established his company, close to the Alfa Romeo historic home at Portello.
He searched for more spacious and more comfortable car greenhouses. They eventually crystallised in a new type-form characterised by airiness and visibility thanks to large glazed areas made with a new material, Plexiglas, in place of the traditional heavy glass. He called it “Panoramica” body, destined to mark the rebirth of his coachwork: Maserati, Lancia, Fiat and MG were “dressed” with this innovative body. In 1949 he built a Panoramic body for the Ferrari 166 Mille Miglia, belonging to Antonio Stagnoli - this was the first Ferrari coupé ever. The Panoramic concept was an invention of Luigi Rapi, chief Zagato stylist at that time.
The 1950s: Gran Turismo Cars
As a gift for his graduation at Bocconi University of Milan, Elio Zagato, Ugo’s first-born son, received an open-top sports car based on a Fiat 500 B chassis in 1947. This car represented the beginning of his career as a gentleman driver (in a total of 160 races, Elio earned a place on the podium 83 times) and as a manager of the family company. The birth of the Gran Turismo category, conceived in 1949 by Count Giovanni Lurani, journalist Giovanni Canestrini and Elio himself revolutionised the world of automotive competition: the category comprised cars with sports coachwork and a production chassis or bodyshell of which at least 30 examples had to be built. They were, therefore, cars capable of being used on an everyday basis, comfortable and well-finished, yet sufficiently sleek and aerodynamic to race at weekends on the leading circuits. AC, Alfa Romeo, Abarth, Aston Martin, Bristol, Ferrari, Fiat, Maserati, Jaguar, Osca, wore Zagato GT bodies. In 1955 Elio Zagato scored a memorable victory of the International Granturism Championship at the Avus circuit driving a Fiat 8V Zagato.
The 1960s: Fuoriserie cars
The higher demand for special bodies required a passage from a handcraft to an industrially-based organization. Elio Zagato found a larger location in Terrazzano (northwest of Milan), very close to Arese where Alfa Romeo would have chosen soon to establish its new plants. In 1960 Ugo Zagato was awarded with the Compasso d’Oro design prize for the design of the Fiat Abarth 1000 Zagato. In this period the mission of Zagato was to design special bodies to be assembled in series and fitted with mechanical parts and interiors supplied by major constructors. Under the partnership with Alfa Romeo the Giulia SZ, the TZ, TZ2, 2600 SZ, the 1750 4R and the Junior Zagato were born. In partnership with Lancia, Zagato continued the “Sport” series with the Lancia Appia Sport, the Flaminia Sport and Super Sport, the Flavia Sport and Supersport and the Fulvia Sport and Sport Spider. In addition there were some for special customers: Osca, Lamborghini, Bristol, Rover, Honda and Fiat.
The 1970s: Geometric cars
Initially produced with a 1300 cc engine and immediately featured in the Alfa Romeo catalogue, from 1972 the Alfa Romeo Junior Z was also produced in 1600 cc form as well as the Lancia Fulvia Sport. In response to the Oil Crisis and in opposition to the irrational and anti-functionalist trends of the era, Zagato also proposed electric production cars. A new Ferrari Zagato, called 3Z, came to life in 1971, thanks to an idea of Luigi Chinetti of Ferrari NART who financed the decidedly angular spider. It was introduced in 1971 at the Turin Motor Show and marked the definitive departure from Alfa SZ, TZ and Lancia Flaminia and Appia’s curvy volumes to embrace the squared volumes of Lancia Fulvia Sport and Alfa Romeo Junior Z. Three years later Chinetti committed to Zagato a second car for him. Based on a 330 GTC chassis, it would be a coupé with removable top. This model was called 330 Convertible Zagato and had few stylistic differences with the 3Z: front lights covered with Plexiglass instead of the eyelid headlight covers. Also the tail was derived from the Spyder but all angles were smoothed and the rear light cluster was enclosed in shallover niches. The most original feature was the roof which could be unhooked and stored in the boot. From Chinetti himself came another special order. At that time Zagato started a new project for a different four-seater, mid engined concept which became the 1970 Cadillac N.A.R.T. This would be a luxurious, sophisticated, high performance four-seater. The front wheel drive power train of a Cadillac Eldorado was relocated to create a mid-engined layout. Zagato was asked to build the prototype from the drawings and a clay model that was conceived in GM’s studios. After its completion, it was displayed at the 1971 Turin Motor Show. A Fiat, based on 132, and named Aster, was bodied as prototype as well as a Volvo GTZ. The Zagato facility in Terrazzano saw also the assembly of Lancia Beta Sport Spider that established Lancia's name in America and Australia and the Bristol 407 convertible, whose design was very similar to the Lancia’s one.
The 1980s: CAD – Computer Aided Design cars (Limited Editions)
The demand for exclusive spiders and coupes led to the creation of limited, numbered editions from Zagato. The Aston Martin Vantage (50 units) and Volante Zagato (33 units) were the highest expression of this economic and commercial climate. Furthermore, the Milanese coachbuilder bodied the Maserati Spyder and Karif. Furthermore, the S.Z. coupe (1989) and roadster named R.Z. (1992) were assembled here for Alfa Romeo. Both cars were born by the first application of CAD process to automobile. The S.Z. was an experimental coupé that revisited Alfa Romeo’s legendary sporting image, a true rear-wheel drive Alfa Romeo coupé, a symbol of sporting pedigree hostile to any compromise. It harks back to the philosophy of the extreme coupés that distinguish the historic Alfa - Zagato relationship: the 1900 SSZ 1954, the Giulietta SZ (Sprint Zagato) 1960, the Alfa Giulia TZ and TZ2 and the 2600 SZ 1965, Junior Z and Alfa Z6.
The 1990s: CAM – Computer Aided Manufacturing of cars (V-Max concepts)
Zagato faced the need to keep up with the new demands of an evolving market: while it organised (from 1993) a one-brand race series for Alfa Romeo S.Z. and R.Z. it was no longer solely a coachbuilder Atelier, tied to the production of sports cars, but rather a service centre now working in the extended area of transportation design. The company styled and built prototypes and show cars on behalf of car manufacturers but also railways and industrial vehicles.
In 1991 and 1993, the Design Zagato division introduced two Ferrari show cars based on the 348 and the Testarossa where styling motifs subsequently adopted on the F355 and more recently on the 360 Modena and the Enzo were used. In 1992, as a tribute to the Lancia Delta Integrale victories, the Hyena Vmax concept was created and a small series of 25 cars were built. Zagato built the Raptor and the Superdiablo Vmax concept, both powered by a Lamborghini V12 at the request of Mike Kimberley Sant’Agata Bolognese company’s CEO. Elected “Best Concept” at the 1996 edition of the Geneva Motor Show, the Lamborghini Raptor was produced in less than four months, thanks to the use of integrated technology applied to the CAD/CAM system that allowed the intermediate styling buck phase to be eliminated. The Raptor represents one of the first experiments in the use of virtual systems in support of and/or in alternative to the construction of mock-ups and concept cars. The Lamborghini Superdiablo represents what could maybe have been the Murcielago (anticipating the greenhouse and the interior). It featured the typical Zagato cues: the double bubble on the roof and the large rear intake of the engine, very similar to supersonic planes’ turbine. In 1998 Zagato was commissioned by FIAT to design and produce three running prototypes with low fuel consumption (3 litres/100 kilometres). The Turin-based corporation presented the Ecobasic at the Geneva Motor Show in 2000 where it was judged to be the best research concept.
The 2000s: Neoclassical cars
In this period, Zagato Atelier created made-to-measure creations for distinguished clients and gentlemen drivers, deriving its philosophy from the era of the berlinettas of the early 1950s. Special projects created for Aston Martin, Bentley, Ferrari, Maserati, Spyker, Diatto and Alfa Romeo consolidate the brand's business in making custom-built models, almost exclusively coupés with two doors and two seats.
In July 2011 it was reported that specialist car builder Coventry Prototype Panels (CPP) had acquired Zagato, with Vladimir Antonov funding CPP and its recent acquisitions, but that CPP Milan s.r.l. is an independent company. At the beginning of 2012 CPP Manufacturing was acquired by Envisage Group, a consulting-service company in automotive engineering field based in Coventry.
- 1922: Fiat 501
- 1922: Diatto Tipo 25 4DS
- 1925: Lancia Lambda
- 1929: Alfa Romeo 6C 1500
- 1929: Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 GS
- 1930: Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 GS Testa Fissa
- 1932: Alfa Romeo 6C 1750
- 1932: Alfa Romeo 8C 2300
- 1937: Alfa Romeo 8C 2900
- 1938: Fiat 1500 Spider MM
- 1938: Fiat 500 Siata
- 1938: Lancia Aprilia Sport MM
- 1938: Lancia Aprilia Sport Aerodinamica
- 1947: Fiat 500 B Panoramica
- 1947: Isotta Fraschini 8C Monterosa
- 1948: Ferrari 166 MM Panoramica
- 1949: Maserati A6 1500 Panoramica
- 1952: Fiat 500 CZ
- 1952: Fiat 8V Elaborata
- 1953: Osca 4500 Biondetti
- 1954: Maserati A6 G/54 2000
- 1955: Alfa Romeo 1900C SS Zagato Coupe
- 1956: Fiat Abarth 750 GT
- 1958: AC Ace-Bristol Zagato
- 1957: Alfa Romeo Giulietta SZ
- 1957: Jaguar XK 140 Z
- 1957: Lancia Appia GT
- 1958: Lancia Flaminia Sport
- 1960: Fiat Abarth 1000
- 1960: Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato
- 1960: Bristol 406
- 1961: Bristol 407
- 1962: 1960 Osca 1600 GTZ
- 1962: Alfa Romeo 2600 Sprint Zagato
- 1962: Lancia Flaminia Tubolare
- 1962: Lancia Flavia Sport
- 1963: Alfa Romeo Giulia TZ
- 1964: Lancia Flaminia Super Sport
- 1965: Alfa Romeo Gran Sport Quattroruote
- 1965: Lamborghini 3500 GTZ
- 1966: Lancia Fulvia Sport
- 1967: Lancia Flavia Super Sport
- 1967: Shelby Zagato
- 1969: Alfa Romeo GT Junior Zagato
- 1969: Volvo GTZ
- 1970: Cadillac Eldorado NART
- 1972: Iso Varedo
- 1972: Zagato Aster Coupe
- 1974: Zagato Zele 1000
- 1975: Bristol 412
- 1976: Lancia Beta Spider (Designed by Pininfarina, Zagato Produced)
- 1984: Maserati Biturbo Spider
- 1986: Aston Martin V8 Zagato
- 1988: Autech Stelvio
- 1989: Alfa Romeo SZ
- 1991: Ferrari 348 Elaborazione
- 1991: Nissan Gavia
- 1992: Alfa Romeo RZ
- 1992: Lancia Hyena
- 1992: Fiat 500 Z-ECO
- 1993: F.I.V.E Formula Junior Elettrosolare
- 1993: Zagato Ferrari FZ93 (Renamed ES1)
- 1993: Autech Gavia
- 1996: Fiat Bravobis
- 1996: Zagato Raptor
- 1997: Lamborghini Canto
- 2002: Aston Martin DB7 Zagato
- 2003: Aston Martin DB AR1
- 2005: Lancia Ypsilon Sport
- 2006: Ferrari 575 GTZ
- 2006: Toyota Harrier Zagato
- 2007: Maserati GS Zagato
- 2007: Ferrari 599 GTZ Nibbio Zagato
- 2008: Spyker C12 Zagato
- 2008: Bentley Zagato GTZ
- 2008: Diatto Ottovù Zagato
- 2008: Perana Z-One
- 2009: Ferrari 550 GTZ Roadster
- 2010: Alfa Romeo TZ3 Corsa
- 2011: Fiat 500 Coupe
- 2011: Alfa Romeo TZ3 Stradale
- 2011: Aston Martin V12 Zagato
- 2012: BMW Zagato Coupe
- 2012: BMW Zagato Roadster
- 2013: Aston Martin DBS Coupe Zagato Centennial
- 2013: Porsche Carrera GTZ
- 2014: Lamborghini 5-95 Zagato
- 2015: Thunder Power Sedan
- 2015: Zagato Maserati Mostro
- 2016: Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato
- 2016: MV Agusta F4Z
- 2017: Ferrari 599 GTZ Nibbio
- 2017: Zagato IsoRivolta Vision Gran Turismo
- 2018: Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato Shooting Brake
- 2019: Alfa Romeo Giulia TZ4
- 2020: Aston Martin DBS GT Zagato Centenary
- "The Fiat 1400, as interpreted by coachbuilders". hemmings.com. Retrieved 1 July 2019.
- "In a further acquisition, specialist car builder CPP (Coventry Prototype Panels) has acquired Milanese Car Design House Zagato for an undisclosed sum". carsuk.net. Retrieved 2011-07-06.
- "1967 ZAGATO LANCIA FLAVIA SUPER SPORT PROTOTIPO". archivioprototipi.it (in Italian). Retrieved 17 December 2019.
- Only nine examples were sold worldwide, and only example with a manual gearbox.
- "Aston Martin DBS GT Zagato Centenary teased". evo.co.uk. evo.co.uk. Retrieved 26 March 2019.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Zagato.|
- Coachbuild.com encyclopedia: Zagato
- https://web.archive.org/web/20090227085303/http://www.zagato-cars.co.uk/ Broughtons Zagato Ambassador UK
- Elio Zagato - Daily Telegraph obituary