The cars we loved.
The global partnerships between auto companies has produced some strange and unlikely bedfellows. Nissan-Renault, Mercedes-Mitsubishi and Toyota-Subaru are a few that come to mind. But few have produced as beautiful an offspring as the Italian design house Zagato and its most favored partner Alfa Romero. To celebrate the relationship the two have established in motorsports, Zagato built a very limited edition supercar, the Alfa Romeo TZ3 Stradale in 2005.
The Stradale is the fourth in a line of TZ3 cars that owe much of their design heritage to the Alfa Giulia TZ and TZ2 of the 60’s. The more modern TZ cars were nearly one-off or special race models that were not available for public sale. The TZ3 Stradale would be special in that it would benefit from the broad corporate umbrella of the Fiat Group that now included Chrysler. With Chrysler in the DNA of the Italian conglomerate, all manner of American SRT sourced power was available. The infusion of Italian DNA is nothing new at Chrysler. In the 80’s Frank Sinatra might have peddled New Yorkers, but real Italian influence came with the knowledge gained from owing Lamborghini in the late 80’s and early 90’s. That’s how the Viper came to be. What comes around goes around as now an Italian company owns Chrysler and Viper returns the favor by influencing an a Alfa Romero.
For all intents and purposes, the TZ3 Stradale is the world’s first American Alfa Romero. It used the chassis, drivetrain and 4.2L V8 from the Dodge Viper ACR to give the Italian supercar a distinctive American flavor. The lightweight body was made of carbon fiber and was close to the dimensions and profile of the Viper, with its classically proportioned long hood and short rear deck. Even though the aluminum tube frame could have dictated a more Viper-like profile in the hands of a lesser talented design house, the folks in Milan were able to retains Alfa design cues like the classic kammtail tail and 8C Competizione-like front end. From some angles, the car’s greenhouse resembles the Corvette while the rear window recalls certain Shelby Cobra race cars.
Despite the contemporary resemblances to other cars, every inch was unmistakably Zagato-Alfa down to the large 18’ wheels that recall recent Alfa’s of the past. Where the Viper’s genes come through the most is the interior. Very little was done to conceal its Detroit origins. While the tasteful simplicity came across as spartan in a Viper, in the Stradale, it’s almost elegant, underscoring the car’s simple mission. The Stradale was pure Italian flair with American muscle (and reliability), in much the same sprit of European sports car builders who used Detroit V8’s in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s.
The Stradale was the production version of the one-off Alfa Romero TZ3 Corsa, a car commissioned by a wealthy German collector. The 600 hp V10 Corsa was shown at the 2010 Villa D’Este as part of Alfa’s celebration of 100 years of motorsport involvement. The production car’s smaller 4.2L V8 will have 420 hp and use a 6-speed sequential gearbox., Alfa states that the TZ3 as equipped can start in sixth gear! Viper-like performance is expected to be on par with cars like the Aston Martin V8 Vantage S, but with only 9 examples made, it is high on the scale of exclusivity and cost at $150k to $200k a pop.