Morning Qualifying – Tubolare Zagato edition

Jean Rolland, during the 1964 Tour de France Automobile, in his Alfa Romeo Giulia TZ1

Today would have been Nicola Romeo’s 132nd birthday. Over the the last century, Alfa Romeo has turned out many legendary and beautiful race cars. This one, the Giulia TZ, happens to be my favorite. First of all, just look at it. Every line and every curve from it’s ducted nose to the kamm tail is just……right.  If you’ve ever seen one in person, you can’t believe how unbelievably small and low to the ground the TZ is; I’d need a mechanic’s creeper, a feet first style baseball slide and an absence of dignity to get in one.
A rear view of an Alfa Romeo TZ2, taken at the 2010 Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix. See, I told you it was low!!

And with those tiny dimensions, and pretty looks, this Alfa Romeo might fool you into thinking it wasn’t a tough customer.  You would be wrong.  
The TZ1, in it's racing debut at Monza in 1963, piloted by Lorenzo Bandini. The new TZ swept the podium in the prototype class in it's 1st race.

The TZ was first manufactured as a replacement for the Giulietta Sprint Zagato in 1963.  Alfa Romeo subcontracted it’s development to Autodelta SpA, a then new specialist tuning and development firm set up by former Ferrari engineer Carlo Chiti and his partner Ludovico Chizzola.  Built as a purpose-built GT racing car, it used an ultra-lightweight, welded tube spaceframe chassis with a body designed by Ercole Spada at Carrozzeria Zagato using the aerodynamic theories of Dr. Wunibald Kamm.  Power came from the same all aluminum 1570cc twin-cam, four cylinder engine that was used in the Giulia Saloon making 116 horsepower.   With a weight under 1500 lbs and it’s aerodynamically slippery shape, the TZ1 was capable of speeds in excess of 135mph.
A cutaway view of the Tubulore Zagato 1 by Shin Yoshikawa (

In 1964, the TZ was FIA homologated (100 units were needed for homologation to the Gran Turismo category) and immediately began logging its impressive string of race wins in Europe and North America.  In the hands of privateers, the cars were incredibly successful, sweeping their class at Le Mans, Sebring, the Nurburgring, the Targa Florio, and the Coupe des Alpes.  Not one to stand on their accomplishments and leave the door open for Abarth and Porsche, Autodelta set to work coming up with an improved TZ before the end of 1964.  Zagato crafted an additional 14 cars with a fiberglass body and a single piece plexiglass rear window reducing it’s weight to 1366 lbs;  Autodelta added the twin-plug 1600cc engine from the Giulia GTA, increasing power to 170hp and the TZ2’s top speed to over 164mph.

Today, the surviving TZ1’s command up to a half million dollars, depending on the car’s particular pedigree.  The last TZ2 to come up at auction, in 2005, failed to meet it’s reserve price of $2 million dollars.   If I ever win the Super-Mega-Hella-Power-Lotto, I’d love to have a TZ2………..with a tastefully matched crawler.

Alfa Romeo TZ2………(sigh)


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  1. Alff Avatar


    1. muthalovin Avatar

      Yow yow, I also <3.

  2. citroen67 Avatar

    If I ever got a chance to drive one, I probably would never get out of it…seriously…I would literally be stuck inside it.

  3. FЯeeMan Avatar

    The roof is barely to the rib cage of what, a 10-year-old boy? Yipes!!! Then, in the B&W photo, it looks like it's taller than the spyder following it through the chicane. Double Yipes!!!
    TZ2 1366 lbs @ 170 HP = 8 lb/HP
    Veyron 4162 lbs @ 987 BHP = 4.2 lb/HP (number from the Pedia of Wiki, taken with a grain of salt)
    Dang, I was hoping they'd be closer. I'd still rather have the TZ…
    OT side note: Alpha needs to launch in the US with a car name that Americans can pronounce. I consider myself fairly worldly, but have no idea how to pronounce "Giulia ". If I recall, their first car back in the US will have a similar name. Is this "Gee-oh-lee-uh" or "Jew-lee-uh", or…

  4. autoidiodyssey Avatar

    It is nice to see owners willing to use these as intended, despite the value. There were at least 3 at Monterey last year.
    <img src="; width="500" height="307" alt="1964 Alfa Romeo TZ">

    1. skitter Avatar

      If you can afford one, you can afford to rebuild one.

  5. Syrax Avatar

    But it's Italian, wouldn't it be Jew-lee-AAHH, preferably screaming and shaking your fist?

    1. FЯeeMan Avatar

      Most likely so.
      It's like getting a dog from the pound – she comes with a name already!

  6. joshuman Avatar

    Shin Yoshikawa does good work.

  7. Bret Avatar

    Excellent article! This is one of my favorite cars of all time. One would be at the top of my PowerBall funded Fantasy Garage shopping list.
    I saw one innocently parked in the paddock at the Northwest Historics last year and, when I noticed it, literally shouted out loud and ran over to it. Its dark blue paint made it seem more sinister than the usual red. I spent a few moments with that car admiring its purposeful awesomeness and functional beauty.
    Happy Birthday Mr. Romeo. Thank you for buying ALFA all those years ago and hiring Mr Ferrari and Mr Jano. Those were good personnel decisions. I'll raise a glass to you in Milan next week.

  8. topdeadcentre Avatar

    A TZ2 showed up at last August's "Tutto Italiano" car day at the Larz Anderson museum. I should write some articles about this year's lawn event series… Cadillac Day, British Car Day, European Motorcycle Day, Mini-Micro Car Day, etc.
    While the big crowds were ooh-ing and ahh-ing over the usual Ferraris and Lambos, a small group of hardcore wingnuts were gazing at the TZ2 (looking short next to a pair of Ferrari 275 GTB/4's) with wonder and desire…
    <img src="; alt="TZ2" title="TZ2">
    (photo credit: mykol78 on Flickr)

  9. BlackIce_GTS Avatar

    In the tradition of being small and light, the new one is based on a Viper.

  10. Thrashy Avatar

    Fun fact: to be street-legal in many states, a car's headlights have to be at least two feet off the ground.
    I'm imagining pivoting stalks mounted to the roof.