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Zagato Milano
Company typeSocietà a responsabilità limitata
FoundedMilan, Italy (1919)
FounderUgo Zagato
Area served
Key people
Andrea Zagato, CEO
ServicesAutomotive design

Zagato is a coachbuilding company. The design center of the company is located in Terrazzano, a village near Rho, Lombardy, Italy.[1]


The 1910s: Aeronautics[edit]

Ugo Zagato was an Italian automotive designer and builder. He was born in Gavello, near Rovigo (June 25, 1890). He began his coachbuilding career in 1919 when he left Officine Aeronaut Aluminum Ti Che Pomilio to set up his own business in Milan. His intent was to transfer sophisticated constructional techniques that combined lightness with strength from aeronautics to the automotive sector. Cars of the time were generally still bulky and heavy; Ugo Zagato conceived them as lightweight structures, with a frame in sheet aluminium similar to an aircraft fuselage.

The 1920s: Classic models[edit]

During the 20's, Zagato concentrated on racing cars. At the beginning of the decade, he was asked by Alfa Romeo to dress some Alfa Romeo G1, RL and RM. 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. 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 won the 1928 edition. The 6C 1500 technical qualities were also improved 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, who started his career at Alfa Romeo, in 1929 founded Scuderia Ferrari as the official team for race Alfas. Ugo Zagato was his exclusive partner in the thirties. In those years, even Ansaldo, Bugatti, Diatto, Fiat, Isotta Fraschini, Lancia, Maserati, OM and even Rolls-Royce were clients of Zagato.[2]

The 1930s: Aerodynamic models[edit]

Elio and Ugo Zagato seen with 2 Zagato Alfa Romeo 6C 2300s (1937)

Zagato continued to build a variety of aerodynamic cars during these decades, adopting inclined windscreens, more aerodynamic headlights, and convex bootlids. He also favored perforated disc wheels that improved brake cooling. All Alfa Romeo 8Cs received coach-work from Zagato. In January 1932, Zagato-bodied cars also began to be built by Carrozzeria Brianza. Bianchi, Fiat, Isotta Fraschini, Lancia, Maserati, and OM all experimented with lightweight and aerodynamic Zagato bodies, especially for race cars. The list of victories is impressive, including 8 Mille Miglia, 4 Targa Florio, 4 Le Mans, and 4 Spa Francorchamps OA victories. In the 30's, Zagato-bodied models started to compete and dominate in different class/categories. Thirty-six Zagato-bodied cars were at the start of the 1938 Mille Miglia, which was One third of the participants.[3]

The 1940s: Panoramic models[edit]

Bristol 406 outside 16 Via Giorgina in Milano from 1945 to 1960

At the outbreak of the Second World War, Ugo Zagato left Milan and fled to 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 at Via Giorgini 16, close to the Alfa Romeo historic home at Portello.

1949 Lancia Ardea Panoramica

He looked for more spacious and more comfortable car greenhouses, which were eventually crystallised in a new type-form characterized by airiness and visibility thanks to large glazed areas made in plexiglass, a new material which replaced the traditional heavy glass. This "Panoramic" body, as it was called, would mark the rebirth of his coachwork: Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Lancia, Maserati 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 for a client ever. The Panoramic concept was an invention of Vieri Rapi, chief Zagato stylist at that time.[4][5]

The 1950s: Gran Turismo models[edit]

Elio Zagato and Fiat 8V in 1955.

In 1947, 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. This car represented the beginning of his career as a gentleman driver (out 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. AC, Alfa Romeo, Abarth, Aston Martin, Bristol, Ferrari, Fiat, Fraser Nash, Maserati, Jaguar, Osca, Porsche, and Renault wore Zagato GT bodies. In 1955 Elio Zagato scored a victory of the International Granturism Championship at the Avus circuit driving a Fiat 8V GT Zagato.

The 1960s: Fuoriserie models[edit]

Ugo and Gianni Zagato
1970 Volvo GTZ

The steady higher demand for special bodies required a passage from a handcraft to an industrially-based organization. Elio Zagato found a larger location at 30 Via Arese in Terrazzano (northwest of Milan), very close to Arese where Alfa Romeo as well would soon choose 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.[6]

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 to these some were realized for special customers owners of: Bristol, Fiat, FordLamborghiniHonda, Osca, Rover and Volvo.[7]

The 1970s: Geometric models[edit]

Zagato Zele electric microcar was made 1972–76.

In response to the Oil Crisis[8] and in contrast to the irrational and anti-functionalist[9] trends of the era, Zagato also proposed the production of electric cars such as the Zagato Zele two-seater. In 1971 a new Ferrari Zagato, called 3Z, came to life thanks to an idea of Luigi Chinetti who financed the decidedly angular spider. In the same year it was introduced at the Turin Motor Show and signalled the definitive departure from SZ, TZ and Lancia Flaminia and Appia's curvy volumes to embrace the squared volumes of Lancia Fulvia Sport and Alfa Romeo Junior Z. Chinetti himself made a further special order. At that time Zagato started a new project for a different four-seater, mid engined concept which became the 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. 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.[10]

The 1980s: Limited Edition models[edit]

While the beginning of the 80's was characterized by the introduction of a number of Alfa Romeo Concept cars as the Fiat Chicane, the Alfa Romeos rear engine Sprint 6, Zeta 6, Alfetta and Lancia Thema Station Wagon, and the Alfa Romeo 33 Tempo Libero also in 4x4 hybrid version, the demand for exclusive spiders and coupes led Zagato to the creation of limited, numbered editions. 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 Maserati Karif. Furthermore, the Alfa Romeo SZ (1989) and roadster named RZ (1991) were assembled here for Alfa Romeo. Both cars were born by the first application of CAD process to automobile. The SZ was an experimental coupé that revisited Alfa Romeo's sporting image, a rear-wheel drive Alfa Romeo coupé, a symbol of sporting pedigree. It harks back to the philosophy of the extreme coupés that distinguishes the historic Alfa - Zagato relationship: the 1900 SSZ 1954, the Giulietta SZ 1960, the Alfa Romeo Giulia TZ and Alfa Romeo Giulia TZ2 and the 2600 SZ 1965, Junior Z and Alfa Romeo Zeta 6.[11]

The 1990s: V-Max models[edit]

Zagato faced the need to keep up with the new demands of an evolving market: besides organising, from 1993, a one-make race series for Alfa Romeo SZ and RZ so it turned (was no longer just a coachbuilder Atelier tied to the assembly of sports cars) into a Total Design Studio now working in the extended area of transportation design. The company styled and built not only 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 V-Max models based on the 348 and the Testarossa. Some of these cars' styling motifs were subsequently adopted for the F355, 360 Modena and Enzo. In 1992, as a tribute to the Lancia Delta Integrale victories, the Hyena V-Max concept was created and a small series of 25 cars were built. Zagato built the Raptor and the Superdiablo V-Max concept, both powered by a Lamborghini V12 at the request of Mike Kimberley, Lamborghini's CEO. Voted "Best Concept" at the 1996 Geneva Motor Show, the Raptor was produced in less than 4 months, thanks to the use of integrated technology applied to the CAD/CAM/CAE system that allowed the intermediate styling buck phase[clarification needed] to be eliminated. In 1998, Zagato was commissioned by FIAT to design and produce three V-Max prototypes with low fuel consumption (3 litres/100 kilometres). The Fiat Ecobasis was judged to be the best research V-Max concept.[12]

The 2000s[edit]

The finished Ottovu Diatto concept car at the Zagato Design Studio showroom

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.[13]

The 2010s[edit]

The Alfa Romeo TZ3 Corsa and Stradale; the race model based on a mono-shell carbon fiber chassis, coupled with a tubular frame and a lightweight aluminium body, the street legal model based on the Viper ACR mechanical chassis with its carbon fiber body. Due to the joint venture between the Fiat and the Chrysler groups the TZ3 Stradale became the first American Alfa Romeo. After Fiat 500 coupé Zagato and AC 378 GTZ, Zagato consolidated its special relationship with Aston Martin by designing the Centennial V-Max models (as a tribute to AML 100 years), the Vanquish Family and, for the "Cento" years from Zagato foundation, the Pair and the Twins collections. Also Porsche liaison has been revamped with the family of Zagato Carreras as well as Lamborghini, Maserati and BMW connection with the 575, the Mostro and the BMW Twins collections. Since 2017 Zagato has been a partner in the resurrection of the Italien luxury sport brand Iso Rivolta.

Zagato also designed non-automobile projects such as an automated guided electric commuter train for Masdar City in Abu Dhabi.

In 2019 Zagato marked its centenary.[14]


1928 Alfa Romeo 6C 1500 Sport Spyder Zagato
1955 Fiat 8V Zagato
1966 Alfa Romeo 2600 Zagato
1967 Lancia Fulvia Sport Zagato
1990 Alfa Romeo SZ (Sprint Zagato)
2003 Aston Martin DB7 Zagato Coupe and Roadster
Spyker C12 Zagato
2012 Alfa Romeo TZ3 Stradale

Notable designers[edit]

  • Ugo Zagato
  • Vieri Rapi (1947–1950)
  • Ercole Spada (1960–1969; 1992)
  • Giuseppe Mittino (1970–1987)
  • Marco Pedracini (1990–1998)
  • Norihiko Harada (1996–present)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "http://www.alfaromeocollectors.com/". Retrieved 2024-04-24. {{cite web}}: External link in |title= (help)
  2. ^ Zagato. Masterpieces of styles - L. Greggio 2017
  3. ^ Enciclopedia dei carrozzieri italiani - A. Sannia 2017
  4. ^ "The Fiat 1400, as interpreted by coachbuilders". hemmings.com. Retrieved 1 July 2019.
  5. ^ "The Panoramica by Zagato". carrozzieri-italiani.com. 12 November 2021. Retrieved 16 November 2021.
  6. ^ "Zagato's Fiat-Abarth 1000 Record Monza". italianways.com. Retrieved 28 October 2020.
  7. ^ Zagato Milano 1919-2014 - AA.VV. 2014
  8. ^ "Oil Embargo, 1973–1974". Office of the Historian. 1976.
  9. ^ "Arguments for and against functionalism - Vacchablogga". vaccha.com. Retrieved 2024-03-12.
  10. ^ Enciclopedia dei carrozzieri italiani - A. Sannia 2017
  11. ^ Zagato. Masterpieces of styles - L. Greggio 2017
  12. ^ Zagato Cento 1919-2019 - AA.VV. 2019
  13. ^ Zagato Milano 1919-2014 - AA.VV. 2014
  14. ^ Zagato Cento 1919-2019 - AA.VV. 2019
  15. ^ "1967 ZAGATO LANCIA FLAVIA SUPER SPORT PROTOTIPO". archivioprototipi.it (in Italian). Retrieved 17 December 2019.
  16. ^ "Car For Sale: Rare 2007 Ferarri 599 GTZ Nibbio Zagato". topspeed.com. 5 December 2018. Retrieved 28 October 2020.
  17. ^ "Aston Martin DBS GT Zagato Centenary teased". evo.co.uk. evo.co.uk. Retrieved 26 March 2019.
  18. ^ "Zagato presents the GTZ: the car which marks the rebirth of IsoRivolta brand". zagato.it. zagato.it. Retrieved 8 August 2020.

External links[edit]