In the early years, companies like Zagato worked closely with Ferrari, making cars very differently to how they are designed today. Ferrari made the engine and all the mechanicals in-house, while design houses were commissioned to clothe the cars. Today we look at old Italian cars, and see them as things of beauty. Although Ferrari had a strong hand in the design, ultimately it was the external designers who crafted the shapes we admire today.
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Over the years one name dominated, and that was Pininfarina. I say was, because today all Ferrari’s are designed in-house. But of the others, one designer stood out as creating some exceptional shapes, with signature features. These are the Zagato cars.
Zagato have worked with most of the Italian manufacturers to produce some simply amazing designs. Although not an obvious relationship they have produced some amazing designs with Aston Martin too, with a number of different DB models over the years.
The most recent Zagato designed model using a Ferrari base was the 2006 Ferrari 575 GTZ, built by Zagato for Japanese Ferrari collector Yoshiyuki Hayashi, and announced at the 2006 Geneva Motor Show. The car was officially recognised by Ferrari, which is why it was allowed to proudly wear the Ferrari and the Zagato badges. 6 were made in total.
In Friday Drool, we select the best cars from around the world, and this Zagato is not just exceptional, but rare too. In the early years at Ferrari it was not unusual for a car to be re-bodied through its life. Even as recently as the 1980s, when there was just no demand for a classic Ferrari, the practice continued. At this time, most GTEs were being re-bodied as 250 GTOs, and were being labelled a “recreation”.
This car started out as a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTE, a 2+2 with no chance of a racing history. The owner of this car had a better idea. He sent the car back to Zagato, and commissioned them to re-body it in the shape of the original 250 GT Zagato design from the 1950s. Five original examples were originally built, and in 1988 two re-bodied “GTE” versions were added. This is one of those ’88 GTE versions.
Just as Picasso painted in a particular style, similarly Zagatos have particular design features, with the most noticeable being the double bubble roof. Other features include the “Z” shaped C pillar, the bumper-less design to improve racing potential, external fuel filler cap, and the driving lights placed behind the front grill. This is how cars used to be built!
This rare car has come up for sale at JD Classics, located in London. Here is what they have to say about it:
In 1956 two great names of the motoring world came together to produce some of the most beautiful and rare cars ever built, the Ferrari 250 GT Zagatos. The collaboration of Ferrari with the Milan based coachbuilder Zagato was perhaps inevitable as both shared a passion for style and performance but sadly never achieved a significant scale with only 6 cars built from 1953 to 1959 and a couple of cars built at customer request over the following decades. The first Ferrari to feature Zagato bodywork was a 166M, which was converted to Berlinetta configuration for Luigi Bosisio, a Milanese gentleman driver who preferred racing in closed cars. This early experiment was followed a few years later when successful racer Vladimro Galluzzi asked Zagato to build a streamlined and curvaceous body on the already proven 250 GT Tour de France chassis. This new Ferrari 250 GT Zagato was to be one of only five examples built, each one subtly different from the rest. All these original cars went on to have highly successful careers on the race track and the concours circuits of Europe and North America. Not surprisingly they have become some of the most desirable classic Ferraris of all time, commanding prices commensurate with their rarity, beauty and pedigree.
This is not, however, the end of the story and in 1998 two further examples were built and certified by Zagato on original Ferrari 250 GTE chassis frames. These are known as the Ferrari 250 GTE Zagatos. This stunning example was commissioned by a prominent Italian collector and finished to his personal specification of a very dark shade of “Blu Scuro” with an Argento Zagato trademark “Double Bubble” roof, and a spectacular Grigio interior with Nero outlining. Like all Zagato bodied Ferraris, the body is unique to this example and the car has a distinctly competitive look with no bumpers, driving lights hidden behind the “Egg Crate” grill, outside fuel filler and lightweight Perspex rear screen. The car is UK registered, has recently been displayed at the 2015 Goodwood Festival of Speed ‘Cartier style et luxe’ and has subsequently benefitted from a full JD Classics recommissioning.
There is so much to love about this car, from the unique design, to the features, to the history, to the rarity. I particularly love the design of the seats! So, simple yet so elegant. I suspect the only thing I won’t like is the price. Oh well, that’s why we Drool.
Images Copyright of JD Classics