Before the actual production of the SZ started, a number of test cars were used at Alfa Romeo, some only for studies and photo shoots, others for wind tunnel, crash and drivability tests etc. etc.
The first "mules" were Alfa 75’s with the engine and suspension modified to match future SZ’s. One of the 2 Alfa 75’s ( red one ) was driven on the test track of DAF, in the Netherlands. Unfortunately no other proof of this car remains today, apart from the pictures above and below. The other ( blue ) mule has been used in Italy for all kind of tests.
This Alfa 75 was endurance tested by the KONI crew.
After 1000km on the test track, the car nearly disintegrated. The dashboard and Engine Control Unit literally fell apart
because of intense vibrations (surely KONI must have had fun doing these tests) but the KONI shock absorbers continued to perform well.
Once, the same Alfa 75 made its appearance at the Zandvoort race track during an "Italia" weekend. Apparently it drove like a cart and proved to
be much quicker than the SZ because of 200kg weight reduction. Alfa originally aimed at the 75’s weight but because of the increased thickness
of the modar body shell, the SZ turned out heavier than planned. Consequently the first SZ’s produced, sat too low to the ground and KONI was
forced to modify their design for the shock absorbers and springs. You can imagine the panic when the first car appeared at the end of the
That first ( 75/SZ ) mule ended its short life by hitting a tree on the KONI test track by the way... Koni had to send the remainings back to Alfa Romeo !
At KONI they got involved in this SZ project late in the pre production fase from the car, which was called in the official Alfa Romeo - KONI - Zagato ecc. ecc. correspondence in those days the "Alfa Romeo ZAGATO coupe" . In July 1988 KONI proposed 2 height-adjustable systems. One with electric motors on the shock absorbers, the other hydraulic.
In September / October 1988 they got the "GO" at KONI to produce the hydraulic system as it is on our cars now. But because of the big hurry to be ready before the real production date - started in 1989 - the system wasn't 100% flawless and even in 1991 there have been made some repairs and upgrades at those systems.
Even in the Piatti SZ book, published in 1989 you can see that things where not 100% clear.
At the kevlar konsole cover where the switches have been placed into, you can see only 4 switches instead of 5 as in the production cars. Probably because in the initial drawings KONI showed only one 2 way switch. Pressing the top of the switch would cause the car to rise and pressing the bottom would lower the car again. Somehow they chose later in the process for 2 separate switches to raise or lower the car.
By the way: At the pre production cars those konsole and dashboard covers have been made in real kevlar and they did not use not the fake stuff as in the production cars.
Highly camouflaged first prova at the Balocco track.
The pictures show the first test car that was presented to a very select group of people at the Balocco race track. The car was heavily camouflaged. Taking pictures during that phase of the ES-30 development surely must have resulted in the dead penalty, so you can imagine how unique these pictures are!
A permit to drive on public roads during the pre-production phase was necessary to test the cars
The grand totall production for the SZ was 1036 cars of which 38 were prototype and pre-production cars destined to be scrapped, but some of them are still existant.
During the test period of course several changes were implemented in the design of body parts, interior, instruments, as well as in the technical specifications. Some changes more dramatic than others. Interior parts were custom made and were often not very nicely detailed.
Prova at the Silverstone (UK) circuit, also used in Germany. Look at the front and rear bumper, the lamps etc.
Some pictures are from an early test car with chassis number 0004 and some pictures are of later test cars, respectively numbers 0016 and 0017.
The pictures are showed in random order.
Differences in the bonnet and the pop riveted wings above the front wheels from the above car seem to be much wider than on the later SZ's.
Missing ricambi number on the aluminum plate.
The boot lid is black and differences can be noticed in the brackets to attach the spare wheel belt. The pump is also a prototype
Boot lid has been isolated and the trunk itself has some carpets like the interior.
Exterior - among other body parts the mirrors where smaller and different from the mirrors on the production cars. Sometimes you will find these same mirrors on the first 20 to 30 production cars. On some cars you even will find a "normal" left side mirror whereas the right side has the "pre-production" mirror, or the other way around.
No service access panel in the mudguards. Even first 20 ? production SZ's had a slightly different front bumper without a service access panel in the mudguards. Consequently the lamps where mounted in a different way and when a lamp had to be replaced, the bumper had to be taken off the car !
Differences in the interior, most parts have been stitched roughly, colours of mats and other panels are not matching etc.etc.
Surround around the word "Zagatodesign" on the headrests of the front seats.
The inside of the doors has been painted black on all the test cars I have seen.
Rough stitches. Handmade items.
Missing black plastic strips and corner piece.
Handmade sun visors and different roof panels.
Instruments,...the rev counter has a small yellow margin before the red line.
The red "handbrake on" indicator light is different
Sometimes instruments with hanging needles, others have standing needles.
The panels are made of real kevlar / carbon, unlike the plastic imitation kevlar panels as fitted to the production cars.
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