Sprint Z

This marque has always been littered with models we don’t exactly love; the Sprint Zagato (more prosaically, the ES-30) is one of them. It has always been too weird for us: the fascia elicits an intense reaction (not what you’d call a good one), and why is the beltline so damn high? But there’s something about these stock photos – the first one with the bird’s-eye view, especially – that make the car look very, very sexy, warts and all. And we admit that its story and limited production run make it pretty compelling.

Just don’t look at it from head-on.

The ES-30 was Alfa Romeo’s swan song to rear-wheel drive and independence. It was based on the 75 sedan, the last Alfa conceived before Fiat ownership. As deliciously classic a layout as sports sedans come: Giuseppe Busso’s wonderful 3-liter V6 up front with the transmission in the back in a transaxle layout. Power is sent via a limited-slip differential to rear wheels suspended by a de Dion tube. It was balanced, simple and lithe, with a body mass very much on the near side of 3,000 pounds…

You can never quite shake the feeling that the ES-30 is a kit car. It is too angular, too plastic, too downright quirky to be an official product, yet that’s exactly what it it. Alfa Romeo produced 1036 coupés—called SZ for Sprint Zagato—and 284 Roadster Zagatos. You could have any engine you desired, as long as it was Alfa’s mellifluent screaming and bellowing 3-liter V6, the one with all six intake manifold pipes lined up in a regiment of chrome almost too pretty to look at.

Alfa Romeo never made another car quite like it. After production of the ES-30 wrapped up in 1993, there wasn’t a rear-wheel drive Alfa until the 8C Competizione. And that V6 engine is also gone now, replaced with a GM unit using Alfa cylinder heads (source).

~ by velofinds on March 15, 2011.

2 Responses to “Sprint Z”

  1. Il Mostro! One of my favorites and on my bucket list just waiting for that 25yr clock to run down then its mine…dream on, right?

  2. it would be quite a change over the z! but having owned a 75, there actually might not be many surprises for you 😉

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