Mys­tery car

New Zealand Classic Car - - Automobilia -

Our mys­tery this month is rather more pedes­trian than the strik­ing Lam­borgh­ini 3500 GTZ we saw last month — more de­tail on that a lit­tle later. This time, we’re look­ing 10 years ear­lier, at a Euro­pean-built sa­loon in pro­duc­tion from 1956 to ’58/9. Who can tell us about this ve­hi­cle? Email your so­lu­tion to edi­tor@clas­s­ic­car.co.nz or by mail to Mys­tery Car No. 256 April 2017, New Zealand Clas­sic Car, PO Box 46,020, Herne Bay, Auck­land, by 1st May. Last month’s mys­tery goes back to the early days of Lam­borgh­ini’s at­tack on the Ital­ian su­per­car mar­ket. The com­pany had cre­ated quite a stir with its new-de­sign su­per­car, the 350GT, first shown as a pro­to­type in late 1963, en­ter­ing pro­duc­tion in spring 1964, with the pro­duc­tion body built by Tour­ing. Our mys­tery car was the first non-fac­tory body on the chas­sis, built by Za­gato in 1965, with de­sign by Er­cole Spada. It was first shown as the London Mo­tor Show in 1965. It was a strik­ing de­sign, built on the front-en­gine 350GT chas­sis, though the two ex­am­ples of the chas­sis sent by Lam­borgh­ini to Za­gato were short­ened by 10cm. Za­gato was known for its ex­per­tise in build­ing light­weight bod­ies, and the 3500GTZ weighed in at 1050kg, rather lighter than the pro­duc­tion 350GT, which weighed around 1200kg. The en­gine was the op­tional in­creased-power 320bhp (239kw) V12 unit, slightly up on the pro­duc­tion car’s 280bhp (209kw). Top speed was sur­pris­ingly quoted as a rather low 149mph (240kph), a lit­tle down on the stan­dard 350GT, a sur­prise as the car looks quite well shaped, and Za­gato had built enough fast cars to be able to han­dle the ba­sics of aero­dy­namic de­sign to achieve speeds be­yond 150mph (241kph). Ac­cel­er­a­tion was bet­ter than the stan­dard car, with a 0–60mph (0–96kph) fig­ure of 5.8s and 0–100mph (0–161kph) in 14.9s, with the lighter weight no doubt help­ing the ac­cel­er­a­tion. The Lam­borgh­ini chas­sis used up-to-the-minute sus­pen­sion, steer­ing, and brak­ing de­sign, so road­wor­thi­ness should have been no prob­lem. No pro­duc­tion or­ders fol­lowed, as it seems Lam­borgh­ini man­age­ment did not take to the car, and only two ex­am­ples were built. One won­ders why the Lambo bosses turned the car down, as Za­gato was, at that time, a top-league

car­rozze­ria, with many suc­cess­ful de­signs to its credit, and it cer­tainly looks a racy de­sign to my eyes, and rather sharper than the pro­duc­tion 350GT with its body by Tour­ing. Per­haps it was seen to be maybe not quite dis­tinc­tive enough, or too sim­i­lar to the Alfa Romeo GTZ. Were there cost­ing con­cerns, per­haps? Who knows? My sus­pi­cion is that, once in pro­duc­tion and sell­ing on the open mar­ket, it would have out­sold the fac­tory car. So this de­sir­able car re­mains an in­ter­est­ing might-have-been. Some of our reg­u­lar en­trants were up to speed on our March is­sue’s Mys­tery Car, No. 255, the Citroën M35, the low-pro­duc­tion pub­lic-test-bed ve­hi­cle for Citroën’s low-key tri­als of the Wankel ro­tary en­gine de­sign from 1969, while it was a par­tic­i­pant in the Co­mo­tor project. No win­ner to hand at the mo­ment, as we are on an early dead­line, and there are still en­tries com­ing in.

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