| Right from the very first days when I started working as
| The 1300 Gran Turismo category races in 1959 and ‘60 were entirely dominated by the Sprint Veloce version of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta. In order to keep up this successful run, Alfa Romeo decided to commission two more specialised variants for the races. The one for fast circuits, which became the Sprint Speciale, was entrusted to Bertone while the other went to Zagato. This was the SZ, for hillclimb races. Instead of the chassis for the Sprint (2380 wheelbase), it was decided to use the shorter one for the roadster (2250 wheelbase) as it was lighter and easier to handle.
| The result was that, even though it looked compact and apparently less aerodynamic, the Giulietta SZ remained unbeatable even in speed racing. This superiority, which was maintained in road racing, was attacked on fast tracks by the Lotus Elite. It is worth bearing in mind that the Alfa Romeo was based on a standard production chassis, while the Lotus had been created as a sports car with a special chassis, ideal distribution of weights, and specially designed suspension. From the mechanical point of view, the Giulietta had by this time reached the peak of its development, so in order to increase its speed we needed to concentrate on the bodywork. I decided that we needed to lengthen the body and, as an initial test, I took the profiles designed by Frank Costin in 1957 for a Maserati 5000 Sport which was driven by Stirling Moss at Le Mans.
Adapting the lines to the size of the Giulietta, I had a cage made of rods built directly onto the car and a worker modelled this new shape in aluminium sheets. This operation lengthened both the rear end and the front. These new appendages were screwed directly onto the existing bodywork and, when it was ready, we carried out a series of tests. With Elio at the wheel and me next to him with a stopwatch we carried out a series of kilometre runs on the Milan-Bergamo motorway, with me taking the time of each one. After returning to the starting point, we took off all the fairings and then did the same kilometres again, recording the times in order to see the difference.
| However, we were not satisfied with this initial test so I tried out other shapes until I realised that we needed to stretch the rear considerably in order to get a significant increase in speed. I therefore decided to try out Prof. Kamm’s theory: that of slicing off a long tail with
| The definitive version of the SZ was ready to make its debut on the racetrack in June 1961. On 29 June, the SZ coda tronca [literally, “truncated tail”] was driven to pole position by Elio Zagato himself and went on to win the race with ease. This new variant of the Giulietta enabled Alfa Romeo to maintain its supremacy in the category while a new GT was being developed: this was to be the Giulia TZ.
| This experience was so strong to permeate my design philosophy and all my following projects of cars. Some years later, when I was working for BMW in Munich, I had the opportunity to carry out accurate scientific tests in the wind tunnel (?), which allowed me to improve the principles I had tested exclusively through drive tests on my cars and confirm my results. Nowadays car builders systematically invest an enormous amount of resources into this kind of activities, for their results are essential to the economics of car industry, allowing to dramatically decrease energy consumption through improved aerodynamics.