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 email@example.com 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.