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The Panoramica by Zagato

Zagato cars were always characterized by a magnificent balance between sleek and clean lines and innovative light materials. This combination, maintained and developed more and more in the over 100 years of Zagato’s history, largely depends on the aeronautical roots of founder Ugo who, in WW1, designed and built biplanes that had to be fast, light and capable of performing quick and surprising maneuvers. Just think of Gabriele D’Annunzio’s flight over Vienna in 1918, with a plane built by Ugo Zagato himself, who at the time worked for Officine Pomilio.

When Ugo Zagato left the aeronautical sector for starting his coachbuilding business in 1919, the automobiles were heavy and massive. He introduced a revolution by adopting lightweight materials such as aluminum, just like for the design of an airplane. In the 20’s and 30’s Zagato first began to establish itself for its racing models, where the wood chassis was replaced by steel and the bodies were built of alluminum. Thanks to his creations, he began to collect victories after victories in all racing categories. Afterwards he started focusing also on the aerodynamics, creating streamline bodies for Alfa Romeo, Fiat and Lancia which looked like torpedoes. These cars,  without mudguards and external headlights, were built specifically to achieve new records.

In the 40s, after WWII, Zagato gave shape to an original automotive concept, the so-called “Panoramica”, destined to mark the rebirth of Carrozzeria Zagato after the war.

Vieri Rapi (not to confuse with Fiat designer Luigi Rapi), a Isotta Fraschini engineer who at the time collaborated with Zagato, (the companies were basically neighboors), used Plexiglas for the upper part of the windshield, and for the rear  and side windows. A very modern solution that offered the driver a wide visibility and the passenger a panoramic view. This type of car received a patent that Zagato used for its automotive creations between 1947 and 1950 producing around 100 “Panoramica” cars.

Due to Zagato’s past as plane builder, the “Panoramica” name took inspiration from the “panorama” that could be appreciated while piloting an airplane, the fact is that the cockpits looked like bombers cockpits. New materials,  such as Plexiglas, were used to archive this concept, which allowed the curvature of the glass surfaces and significant weight savings. The “Panoramiche” were cars with clean lines, fast, but also very comfortable for interior habitability and brightness. Those are the most important models.

1947 Fiat 1100 Panoramica

One of the first “Panoramica” was built by Zagato based on the Fiat 1100 chassis. The concept was simple: a raised roofline and glass areas (plexiglas) that curved up into the roof. With this feature, the driver and passenger window was fixed and couldn’t be opened. Not the best solution for hot summer days but race drivers apprechiated the improved visibility: Basically a fast greenhouse!

1947 Isotta Fraschini 8C Monterosa

After the Second World War, Isotta Fraschini attempts a return to automotive production with the 8C Monterosa, heir to the pre-war Tipo 8. The new model is presented in 1947 and is distinguished by the unusual design with a cantilevered rear engine. Between 1947 and 1949 several prototypes are completed, with bodies made by Zagato, Touring and Boneschi, but the model is too expensive and will never go into production. Zagato, which new workshop was next to Isotta Fraschini’s headquarters, built 3 prototypes in which we can clearly see the “Panorama” influence.  The model was way too expensive and never went into production.

1947 Maserati A6 1500 GT Panoramica

Photo courtesy of bonhams.com

In 1948 Maserati sent a rolling chassis to Carrozzeria Zagato, where it was re-bodied with two-seater ‘Panoramica’-style coupé coachwork in aluminium. This was the first such co-operation between Maserati and Zagato. So unique, only the classic Maserati front grill permitted this car recognition as a model of the Tridente.

1947 Fiat 1400 Panoramica

Another “Panoramica” similar to the Fiat 1100, this time built on the more powerful 1400 chassis. On this particular speciment, the side glass areas are divided into two pieces by a metal frame allowing the windows (probably glass and not the lighter race-oriented plexiglas) to be opended. This feature, in addition to all the chrome decorations, suggests that this car was built for private use and not for race.

1948 Fiat 500B Topolino

From 1947 a production line dedicated to the Topolino B was started. Given the good success with the public, Zagato continued to produce this series on all Fiat Topolino models until 1950. 

1948 Fiat 750 MM "Scansina"

The “Scansina“, built in only 8 speciments, is also based on the Fiat Topolino. It was a more powerful version with its engine increased to 750 cc. Elio Zagato repeatedly brought it to victory in numerous competitions. On this model was also born the “Z” logo, which later became the official company logo: a darting Z which was initially put on the front grille: an idea of ​​twenty-year-old designer Gianni, Elio’s brother.

1948 MG 1500 Panoramica

The “Panorama” bodies were also built on english chassis. This MG 1500 Y-Type was successfully exhibited at the 1948 Earl’s Court Motor Show in England. The car partecipated also at the 1949 Concours d’Elegance in Lugano, CH.

1949 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 M

Built on a Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 chassis, it features a Panorama body mixed with Flamboyant style elements. Built in a single speciments on the chassis of the 1933 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Monza no 2211114, a race car that crashed several times. It was equipped with a 6C 2500 engine. This 1949 built car was found in Africa somewhere in the 1960s and later rebodied to its original “Monza” racing look. 

1949 Ferrari 166 MM Panoramica

The “Panoramica” concept reached its peak in terms of compromising the lightness of the shapes and the elegance of a GT, with the creation of this Ferrari 166 commissioned in 1949 by the gentleman driver Antonio Stagnali and was the first of a long series of Ferrari bodied by Zagato (read our post). This car is considered a milestone in the evolution of the concept of the coupé body and in 2007, on the 60th anniversary of the Ferrari brand, Zagato recreated the vanished coupé thanks to the photometric process and to the support by Ferrari Classiche.

1949 Lancia Ardea Panoramica

Zagato’s proposal on the Lancia Ardea chassis made in 1949, probably a one-off. The bodywork is very aerodynamic with a futuristic line for its time, features we’ve already have seen on the other “Panoramica”

1950 Fiat 1100 Giardinetta

The Panoramica concept was also used to create  “Giardinetta’s”, Fiat’s word for “Station Wagon”. At least 2 models were built in unknown speciments: The Fiat 500C Topolino and its bigger sister, this 1100 Giardinetta.

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The automotive world witnesses a groundbreaking moment as the AGTZ Twin Tail Chassis #00 makes its global static debut at FuoriConcorso. This remarkable collaboration between La Squadra and Zagato showcases the evolution of a modern automotive icon, transformed into a stunning sculpture by merging art and engineering seamlessly.

Unveiled initially as a scale model at Zagato’s historic Milan Atelier in February, the AGTZ Twin Tail has now transitioned into a full-fledged show car. This prototype chassis #00 offers a glimpse into a limited run of 19 bespoke creations, blending aesthetics with high performance.

“Our project is dedicated to people looking for something extraordinary in automotive design,” said Jakub Pietrzak, Founder of La Squadra. “We aim to cater to those who view cars through an artistic lens, beyond the ordinary.”

The AGTZ Twin Tail draws inspiration from the A220 racecar, which underwent a dramatic transformation from a longtail to a shorttail configuration. This dual personality is a key feature of the AGTZ Twin Tail, allowing owners to switch between the elegant longtail and the muscular shorttail with a removable rear deck, turning it into a unique piece of automotive art when not in use.

Making its static debut at FuoriConcorso on May 25-26, 2024, the AGTZ Twin Tail will have its dynamic debut in July at a major automotive event, with customer deliveries starting in October 2024.

Innovation in Design

The AGTZ Twin Tail features cutting-edge carbon fibre bodywork with a removable tail section designed for ease of transformation. This innovation ensures that the car’s weight remains comparable to its base model, allowing for a swift change between the two configurations. The car’s dimensions shift from 4305mm in shorttail form to 4799mm in longtail form, enhancing aerodynamic efficiency and high-speed stability.

With a top speed exceeding 250km/h and a 0-100km/h acceleration in under five seconds, the AGTZ Twin Tail combines speed with versatility. A custom-made trolley aids in the physical transformation, showcasing the car’s rear deck as a standalone piece of art.

A Tribute to Automotive Heritage

The AGTZ Twin Tail pays homage to the iconic A220 racecar, celebrating both its longtail and shorttail configurations. This tribute will be highlighted at FuoriConcorso, where both A220 chassis will be displayed, enriching the static debut with a historical perspective.

“Running this kind of project is akin to reading a captivating book, filled with plot twists and emotional highs,” said Pietrzak. “Our journey from design sketches to a functional prototype in just 12 months has been exhilarating, and we are honoured to see our prototype blessed by its original inspiration.”

A New Era for Coachbuilding

This collaboration marks a bold step in modern coachbuilding, with only 19 AGTZ Twin Tails to be meticulously crafted over a 1000-hour build process at Zagato’s headquarters. Prices start at €650,000, with a plethora of customization options available to ensure each car is a unique masterpiece.

Customers can choose from 19 colours and nine liveries, with the option for bespoke paint-to-sample finishes. Performance upgrades include carbon wheels, panels, and an enhanced 252hp 1.8-litre turbo engine, along with improved suspension and braking systems.

“The automotive industry is evolving rapidly,” Pietrzak noted. “Design will play a crucial role in differentiating brands. AGTZ Twin Tail exemplifies this new direction, where artisan coachbuilders can create distinct, standout projects.”

Andrea Michele Zagato, President of Zagato, added, “This project embodies enjoyment and innovation. The AGTZ Twin Tail is a testament to our heritage and our ability to push the boundaries of automotive design. We are excited to meet our clients and deliver a car that harmonizes with our legacy.”

The AGTZ Twin Tail stands as a testament to the power of collaboration and the enduring allure of automotive art. Its dual configurations, innovative design, and homage to racing heritage make it a unique addition to the world of high-end automobiles. As it prepares for its dynamic debut and subsequent deliveries, the AGTZ Twin Tail promises to leave an indelible mark on the history of automotive design. AGTZ Twin Tail. One car. Two souls.