• by Toy de Carvalho (Alfa Romeo Club South Africa)

Tubolare, The Rule of Aerodynamics and Ligthness on Races. (Part 2)


Alfa Romeo was disturbed by the total dominance of the SVZ, and Bertone was commissioned to create a lighter, more aerodynamic machine to beat the Zagato. The all alloy Sprint Speciale was launched at the 1957 Turin Motor Show. The SS was still heavier than the SVZ however, and Zagato by then, was pleading with Alfa to supply him with the new SS chassis, so he could make a even lighter car. To alleviate any further embarrassment Alfa relented and set out to collaborate with Zagato in the development of a truly competition orientated car to take on the Porsches and Lotus Elites. Possessing an egg shape, with short overhangs front and rear and reflecting the lines of the earlier SVZ, the new SZ was unveiled at the Geneva Salon in March 1960. The track versions were soon producing 100 Kw and Zagato dominance in the ultra competitive 1300 cc domestic championship, continued unabated. In rallying the SZ immediately scooped a victory on the Coupes des Alpes, defeating the favorite Porsches in the process, and took a class win in the Tour de France. As far back as 1959, Orazio Satta , Alfa's chief engineer, had decided that a GT car required a purpose designed chassis, rather than an adapted production based monocoque, as a platform for a light weight body. Engineered to take the then still secret 1570 cc Giulia engine, it had a new independent rear suspension and discs in all four corners. The first chassis weighed 62 Kgs and was delivered to Zagato in January 1961. Work progressed slowly, as the coach builder was busy doing work for Aston Martin, Lancia and Bristol, while also developing a clipped tail for the SZ. The first prototype to emerge was inexplicably a roadster with a Targa style roof, which restricted the top speed to a mere 200 Km/h. Further delays were experienced as this was rejected and the next version, being a closed coupe, was totally different from the SZ, with a clipped tail and a long and low bonnet that necessitated a bulge in the middle to clear the cam covers. The improvement was immediate, with the top speed rising to 215 Km/h, but the definite shape wasn't arrived at, until early 1963. There were problems with the manufacturing of the chassis however as Alfa did not have the production capacity and so the assembly was entrusted to a new formed company headed by an ex Alfa, Ferrari and ATS engineer Carlo Chiti, the deal signaling the formation of Autodelta. With the ultra light Lotuses dominating the 1963 season, the arrival of the Tubolare Zagato, as the new car became known, at the beginning of 1964 was not a moment too soon. The 1964 season saw the TZ taking 1600 class wins at Sebring 12 hours, Targa Florio, Nurburgring 1000Kms and at the 24H of Le Mans - everywhere it mattered. And just like its predecessor the TZ romped home in a number of rallies. While this was going on, Autodelta and Zagato were busy fine tuning the Tubolare successor, the TZ2. Race ready and waiting in the wings, it had a lower and more aerodynamic body as well as other small improvements over the TZ1, to ensure the victories continued throughout 1965. Times were changing however. Suddenly by the end of 1965 the world interest in the front engined GT cars was non -existent and Alfa realizing this, decided to split it's motor racing efforts between the increasing popular touring cars - the Giulia GTA, receiving the TZ2 power unit - and the mid engined T33 project destined to contest the new World Sports car series. Tubolare Zagatos thus led brief, but glorious lives and their passing, along with their big-bore but front-engined brothers in GT racing like the Ferrari GTO, E type Jag and Aston Martin DB4GT, marked an end of a golden era. And it all started because someone needed a pee.

Alfa Romeo Giulia SS, Carrozzeria Bertone

GIulietta SZ on Race

Alfa Romeo Spider Zagato Tubolare

Alfa Romeo Zagato Spider Tubolare TZ Sketch

Alfa Romeo Zagato Spider Tubolare TZ prototype

Chassis Steel Tubolare TZ

Alfa Romeo TZ, Ercole Spada Study Sketch, 1961

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