This is one of those wonderful car stories that takes us all over the map of Europe and eventually ends up in Connecticut, just a few miles down the road from legendary Lime Rock Park.

It starts, of course, in Milan, where Alfa Romeo was a going concern with lots of American customers when this car was built. Alfa had been doing a very tidy business for decades when a corporate decision was made-to get out of and get away from production racing and do something else that might prove valuable to the design and engineering team and daring to the customers, real and potential. The decision was to enter the world of big-time rallying with production-based cars like this one. Plans were laid for the program in the late '50s and reached fruition in the early '60s.

Although most of the production racing cars up to that time were based on the Giulia and Giulietta platform (in Sprint and Spider formats, especially the Giulietta Sprint Veloce), this particular subspecies of Alfa Romeo race car has no platform at all, no real production base upon which to build. The story goes that a single Italian playboy racer crashed his Sprint Veloce during the Mille Miglia pretty severely, and because he couldn't get another brand-new one quickly, he took the wreck to Zagato in Milan and had it fitted with a lightweight aluminum body. That was the beginning of the Giulietta Sprint Zagato or SZ, lighter and faster than the SV.

The Tubolare (Italian for tubular) Zagato (Italian for fabulous-looking lightweight aluminum and fiberglass bodies) or TZ project was farmed out by Alfa Romeo to the famous Autodelta firm that was originally known as Delta. Former Ferrari engineer Carlo Chiti, who, along with a squadron of other engineers and designers, left the firm during one of its periodic purges in 1961, had established the firm, located down the road in Udine.

Autodelta would go on to create and manage Alfa Romeo racing programs for many years. Autodelta designed and built the small-diameter tubular steel framework, developed the front and rear suspension systems and added them to the chassis, adapted a standard Alfa Romeo four-cylinder dohc engine for the project, and then handed all the mechanicals off to Zagato, where the sleek, slippery body was designed around the birdcage frame. To comply with the FIA rules of the day, Alfa and Zagato had to commit to building 100 of them in order to homologate them for racing and rallying in Europe. A small run of aluminum cars, the TZ1s, was made in 1963, and an evolutionary car, the TZ2, with a fiberglass body, was manufactured at Autodelta in 1964. That was it, because the GTA came out in 1965 and reset Alfa Romeo's racing direction yet again.

The collection of paperwork, provenance and labels that go with this car indicate that it was sold by Alfa Romeo to its first owner in France, from the St. Francaise distributorship on Avenue de Messine in Paris. It was intended to be a rally car, with extra road lamps and a navigator's lamp stalk stemming from the dashboard. It is believed to have run the Monte Carlo Rally at least once, but there's no proof of that.

The lucky current owners of this fine example of a 1963 Giulia TZ are Keith and Susan Goring of Norfolk, Conn., where Susan is an intellectual property lawyer and Keith operates Alfas Unlimited, buying, selling, fixing, storing, restoring and vintage race-prepping Alfas of all kinds. Susan was already an Alfa nut when she met freelance photographer and MG guy Keith in 1974 and started dragging him to sports-car events and Alfa club events. Susan already had her own Alfa specialist company, Avalon's Alfas, at that time, and out of that grew their new company, Alfas Unlimited, after they were married in 1975. They rarely do ground-up restorations because, as Goring said, "In this day and age, in this economy, it's difficult to get someone to ante up $30,000 to $50,000 for a ground-up Alfa restoration when for the same money they could go out and buy someone else's finished car."

Occasionally, though, it does happen, as in the case of the man from Wilkes-Barre, Penn., who had owned an Alfa Giulietta Veloce race car since it was new, let it languish for 29 years with only 3,500 racing miles on the clock, and then asked the Gorings to restore it for them, a project that took 2 years.

The Gorings have an 8,000- sq-ft shop, an 80-year-old former Packard dealership and gas station in Norfolk, that houses some of their car collection, and a 10-car garage nearby with a house attached to it housing the remainder-mostly Alfas, of course, but a few Lancias, a Lola T70, some 20 cars in all.

They came to own and operate the TZ in a 1998 brokered overseas trade scheme that brought them three cars in various states of restoration in exchange for their restored and race-ready Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 Stradale, the product of a 6-year restoration project they inherited from a friend. The Tipo 33 was a mid-engined V8 race car, a street-going coupe version with gullwing doors and covered headlamps, one of only 18 built. They put that rare and beautiful Alfa in a container bound for England, and in return got an Aston Martin DB4GT, a Ferrari 365 GTC 4 and the TZ, a pretty good deal by any standard, from the trader, a secretive Belgian industrialist. The TZ was believed to have spent some of its earlier life, including a partial restoration, in Switzerland and, later on, some time in its native Italy before going to Belgium. For a time it was owned by a Dutch KLM pilot who owned two other TZs. Goring said it was definitely NOT part of German collector Peter Kaus's Rosso Bianco collection, although Kaus did have one a few serial numbers away from this car, which is chassis number 750094.

The TZ came to the Gorings in just about the condition seen here in Tim McKinney's photos, with a white paint job, typical of Zagato production cars of the period, and a curious red nose stripe, offset by just enough green striping at its edge to make it a glorious looking piece that bespeaks its Milanese heritage. The heart of the car is its 1570cc engine fitted with racing camshafts, a pair of gigantic 45 DCOE side-draft Weber carburetors, and headers. It does not have the twin-plug cylinder head that arrived later with the GTV, though, just one plug per cylinder. The cylinder head is heavily ported by Sperry Valve Works in California. Judging by its lap times at known tracks like Lime Rock and Watkins Glen, Goring figures the engine develops about 150 bhp, or just under 100 hp per liter in its 1963 trim.

It's hooked up to a standard Alfa Romeo close-ratio five-speed transmission bolted to a magnesium bellhousing. That leads via a driveshaft to the swing-axle rear suspension fitted with Chapman struts on either side, with a single tubular lower A-frame and the halfshafts acting as the upper arm. Dunlop disc brakes, sized 10 in., grace each of the four corners, providing plenty of stopping power for such a lightweight car. The front suspension has tubular upper and lower control arms with welded lower arms and adjustable upper arms, angled Chapman struts, and a relatively quick steering box, 2.5 turns lock-to-lock.

The little sweetheart, which was homologated at a ridiculously low 1,452 lb for racing purposes, weighs only about 1,800 lb wet, and it rides on 5x15 Hoosier racing tires on replacement 5x15-in. four-lug steel wheels (the originals were only 4.5-in. wide).

The aluminum Zagato body, which has been crashed and repaired a number of times since 1963, is pretty straight now and bespeaks what was happening in terms of rally cars and aerodynamics nearly 40 years ago. The nose is low, and there is a minimum of grille opening to cool the engine. The one-piece front end with rear-mounted retaining straps graduates gracefully from front to rear, with a large sheetmetal kickup just in front of the windshield, presumably to help the air up and over the long roof section with its acres of side glass pointing back to a classic Kammback, the chopped-off tail that was on just about every race car of the era. The TZ's door windows are lightweight plastic sliding windows that require no heavy winding mechanisms, just enough to deal with rally checkpoint paperwork, and there's the ever-present Monza flip-top fuel filler cap that was also a hallmark of racing cars in the early '60s.

The interior is as spare and purposeful as can be, with a handful of Jaeger instruments (in French), with the 10,000-rpm tach mounted high and the speedo mounted low and in the center of the aluminum-sheet dashboard, a sea of black vinyl and carpeting, two bucket seats, and that's about it.

What's it like to drive? Goring said, "It's not very tractable at low speeds because of the hot cams and the carburetors. The street Alfas of the period used 40mm Webers, and this car uses gigantic 45s for high-end power. It vibrates, but not hugely so. There's a fair amount of vibration and noise inside. It gets hot. It's very claustrophobic inside because, at the time, the average Italian racing driver was 5 ft 6 in. and weighed 135. I'm 5 ft 6 in. and weigh more than that, and it's pretty claustrophobic inside. It has a street exhaust system on it, actually a stainless-steel copy of the original exhaust system, but it's pretty raucous sounding."

Goring said he doesn't like the car's handling as it stands as much as he likes a regular Giulietta's handling, but he blames himself for that. "I haven't fully developed the handling, and I know they can be developed considerably farther than I have. The suspension was all rebuilt, but I'm still not happy with the way it handles. Gluing the rear end to the road is the problem, and I think there are a couple more seconds per lap in the car. I want to make it better, because the car deserves it."

Amen.

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