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First Look

The Zagato AGTZ Twin Tail is a €650k motorsport-inspired take on the Alpine A110

Like a classic A220 that's fallen through a hole in the space-time continuum, meet Zagato's stunning new limited edition

Published: 21 Feb 2024

Famed Italian coach-builder Zagato definitely had a thing for a shapely posterior. Check out the Alfa Romeo TZ1, Aston Martin DB4 GT, and Lancia Fulvia Sport, to name but three. Rooted in lightweighting and aeronautics, Zagato later went through a more geometric and less overly curvy phase, but has survived where many other mellifluous-sounding carrozzerie have slipped off to the great fabricating workshop in the sky.

Now let your eyes wander all over this latest Zagato creation, a car on which the focus is most definitely on what’s happening at the rear. More than usual, it turns out. This is the AGTZ Twin Tail, and the clue is in the name. Spring for one of these and you’ll get yourself a car with not one but two different rear bodywork configurations – a short tail and a long one. The long one can be attached or removed, and Zagato will supply a custom-made stand for the tail when it’s not on the car. Voila! A piece of Franco-Italian garage sculpture. Has anyone ever done this before? Not that we can recall.

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If you reckon the Twin Tail’s roots are in motor racing, you reckon right. Beneath that extrovert body lies the chassis and mechanicals of the Alpine A110, one of TopGear.com’s favourite cars, and a masterpiece of contemporary lightweight engineering. It’s an inspired basis for a new low-volume coachbuilt special, if you think about it, but the back story is where the motorsport angle comes in.

Jean Rédélé’s original Alpine A110, we know, was a highly successful competition car, culminating in a world rally constructors’ championship in 1971. But in parallel Alpine manufactured a series of less well-remembered sports racing cars whose finest hour – or should that be 24 hours? – came at Le Mans in 1966 when the A210 won the ‘Efficiency Index’. These elfin 1.3-litre beauties finished ninth, 11th, 12th, and 13th overall, and made a little go a long, long way. (That, of course, was the Le Mans in which Ford’s GT40 famously trounced Ferrari. They definitely used more fuel.)

Unfortunately, the V8-engined Alpine A220 that followed in ’68 failed to capitalise on the new formula that mandated reduced engine capacities; only one of the four cars finished at Le Mans. 1969 was no better, but it led to an experimental ‘short tail’ version that was prettier and more competitive. We say experimental; we suspect that Alpine’s guys simply got busy with an angle-grinder. That was chassis no.1731, and it did its best work on rally stages and hill-climbs. In all eight A220s were built, and only four survive. So this is a very rare groove machine indeed, and a true connoisseur’s car.

Which kinda makes the new Zagato even more fascinating. Their creations are reliably provocative and the AGTZ is no exception. Although we love the donor car’s skilful update of the lissom little A110, this is next level. And while it clearly plunders the past for its inspiration, it somehow manages to look futuristic at the same time, like the A220 has fallen through a hole in the space-time continuum. (Perhaps it encountered McLaren’s Speedtail in there, who knows.)

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There are big, expressive headlights, blisters over the front and rear wheelarches, and a visor-like glasshouse. A side air intake slash that the regular A110 doesn’t have adds a more graphic element, and there’s a completely remodelled rear end – in short and long guise. Zagato’s signature double bubble roof is present and correct. Trapezoidal rear lights, a new diffuser, and central exhaust complete the picture. Every panel is bespoke, and the Twin Tail’s body is made entirely of carbon fibre. The short tail version measures 4305mm in overall length, the long tail 4802mm (622mm more than the regular A110).

Zagato AGTZ Twin Tail 2024

Zagato says the new AGTZ has improved aerodynamics, in keeping with the company’s past achievements. (Back in the day, long before CAD and with no access to a wind tunnel, Zagato’s chief designer and the engineers conducted their aero tests by hammering up and down the autostrada first thing in the morning.) The AGTZ’s tail is as light as its creators could possibly make it so it can be fitted and then removed as easily as possible. We need to check that out in person. There’s no news yet on interior or mechanical upgrades, but we confidently predict a package of upgrades to the Alpine’s 1.8-litre turbo engine.

The design team is led by Zagato’s long-standing creative chief, Norihiko Harada, and it’s worth noting that the car’s personality can be altered not just by the addition of that elongated tail but also a formidable selection of stickers, stripes and other Sixties-inspired logos and graphics. “Nori Harada has been working with me for almost 30 years,” CEO Andrea Zagato tells TG. “By having the same chief designer for such a long time, Zagato has achieved a remarkable design consistency. That’s crucial to our success.

"The fact that he’s been living in Italy since his thirties makes him an Italian designer with a Japanese mindset. Actually, his first degree was in Oriental philosophy. So he thinks like a philosopher, he thinks vertically. The Japanese don’t look at the target, they look at the process. Whereas Italian design is horizontal, and we live and love the imperfections.”

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Alpine, of course, is heading off on a completely different path, and while the company’s design director, Antony Villain, has apparently given the car his blessing, this is not an officially endorsed Alpine project. Another twist in this tale is that the AGTZ marks the continuing elevation of ambitious Polish high end car dealer and scenester, La Squadra, whose idea this project was.

An impressive operation that distributes Alpine, Bugatti, Ferrari, Koenigsegg, Maserati, and Pagani in the territory, a strong pivot to the more experiential side of retail has helped burnish La Squadra’s reputation. Amongst other achievements, Ferrari selected it as its top dealer worldwide in 2022, not an accolade Maranello dishes out lightly. La Squadra will handle all the sales and marketing for the new collab with Zagato, which will fabricate the AGTZ in its Milan atelier.

“There’s a rebel inside all of us that pushes us to do the opposite of what we’re being told to do,” La Squadra’s CEO Jakub Pietrzak tells TG. “So that’s why we’re looking for these automotive dramas from the past. We take a certain romanticism from the past and with advancing technology we are becoming increasingly nostalgic. The Sixties was an intense decade, especially when it came to endurance racing, and a great source of inspiration.

 

"Electrification means it will be harder to differentiate products in terms of performance and driving stimuli. Design will take on greater significance. I think it’ll create opportunities for artisan coachbuilders to step onto the main stage.”

So, to the nitty gritty. Prices for the AGTZ Twin Tail start at €650k so it’s not cheap. But only 19 will be made, and a handful have already been spoken for – with some very interesting names on the client list. Zagato aficionados are a knowledgeable and dedicated bunch, and the new car is clever and novel, as well as delivering the required extroversion.

“More than 60 years after the introduction of the Giulia with the Kamm tail, I was keen to work again on what was one of Zagato’s main themes: the aerodynamic tail,” Andrea Zagato tells TG. “Round or truncated, long or short, the provocation here is to have both on the same car.

"Of course, after 120 years of the automobile, almost everything has been experienced and made. Nevertheless, this was an indispensable opportunity for us to have the chance to provoke again on aesthetics and proportion – especially today when all cars look almost the same. Everyone connects Zagato with the double bubble roof and the tail treatment. I wanted to revisit that and do it on a car with a motorsport inspiration.”

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