Through Lamborghini’s 53-year history carrozzeria’s have played a vital role in clothing some of the most charismatic chassis’ in equally charismatic bodies, with some of Lamborghini’s most beautiful supercars having been penned by coachbuilding and design houses such as Touring, Bertone, Mirazzi, and occasionally, Zagato. Whilst Zagato have drafted various concepts under the Lamborghini badge, the Milan based company have a somewhat tortured history with Lamborghini. Of these 20^th century concepts only one become a road going reality; the Lamborghini 3500 GTZ.
Debuted at the 1965 London Motor Show, Zagato were chosen to body a 350 GT chassis, replacing the Touring Superleggera coachwork. Ferruccio Lamborghini found the final product rather ungainly, preferring Nucio Bertone’s designs, later contracting Bertone for subsequent Lamborghini’s leaving the GTZ in limbo. Despite Ferruccio Lamborghini’s dislike of the design, the 3500 GTZ shown at the London Motor Show became his personal car. Ferruccio’s 3500 GTZ later found its way to Australia where it was rather blasphemously converted to right hand drive and repainted red. Thankfully, the 3500 GTZ has since been completely restored, returned to its original left hand drive position and finished in its original white. For many years the London Motor Show 3500 GTZ was believed to be the only produced, however a second body was crafted by Zagato clothing a later 350 GT chassis, finished in silver with a black leather interior. The fate of the second GTZ has been largely debated, but it is theorised to have sustained heavy damage in a crash in the United States and scrapped. However, as this claim has never been verified it is possible the second Lamborghini GTZ has, however absurd, been abandoned somewhere in the US, waiting to one day reappear; hey, we can dream can’t we?
As Zagato worked exclusively on designing the body and interior, the 3500 GTZ is almost mechanically identical to its sister, the 350 GT. Whilst some claim it was fitted with a 4 litre engine, both GTZ’s was most likely powered by the Bizzarrini Designed 3.5 litre double overhead camshaft V12 and 5-speed manual gearbox used in the 350 GT. The largest difference between the two cars is the chassis, which was shortened by 10cm’s to accommodate the new body. The final product performed marginally better than the 350 GT; the more aerodynamic shape slightly increased the top speed from 158mph to 161mph.
Having been revised by Zagato, the GTZ’s interior somewhat resembles an evolution of the 350 GT’s. While the quintessentially Italian bespoke dials, steering wheel and switchgear remained stock, the dashboard was fitted with a wooden panel framing a 3500 GTZ badge in front of the passenger; a work of art in itself. The warning lights above the secondary dials were positioned among the switchgear and the ash tray was removed. The glove box was moved from the top of the dashboard to the bottom while the dash board itself was extended over the dials, cowling them behind the steering wheel, similar to the 350 GTV concept. The seats and luggage rack were also reupholstered in quilted leather.
In terms of aesthetics, the GTZ is a fascinating illustration. A clear departure from Zagato’s conventional period designs like the Giulietta Zagato, the GTZ is not a bad looking car by any stretch of the imagination, but it lacks the proportional artistry of the coachbuilder’s prettier cars like the DB4 Zagato. Ercole Spada’s design is filled with nods to other cars, featuring Zagato’s signature covered faired headlamps, an aerodynamic Kamm Tail and curved rear window similar to the Alfa Romeo TZ’s (another Ercole Spada design), a Ferrari 250 GT Lusso style egg carton front grille and overall shades of C2 Corvette Stingray and Ferrari 275.
Whilst Zagato experienced immense success producing some of the prettiest cars ever built for companies such as Alfa Romeo, Abarth, Aston Martin, Maserati and Lancia, it’s somewhat tragic they were unable to accomplish equal success designing under a Lamborghini badge. Once Touring Superleggera’s updated design was worn on the somewhat modernised 400 GT, the role of penning Lamborghini’s gran turismo’s fell to Mirazzi, who fashioned the body for Lamborghini’s short lived Islero. If Zagato had been given the opportunity to design Lamborghini’s GT’s alongside Bertone’s flagships, it is without doubt some truly beautiful cars would have resulted, but the Lamborghini gran turismo lineage may have lived beyond the 70’s Jarama. Despite this, we now have the 3500 GTZ as the concept of what Lamborghini’s gran turismo’s may have looked like had they been penned by Zagato.
3500 GTZ Sketch
White 3500 GTZ Profile
White 3500 GTZ Front Three Quarter Driving
White 3500 GTZ Rear Three Quarter
White 3500 GTZ Front Three Quarter
3500 GTZ Interior
3500 GTZ Engine
Silver 3500 GTZ
Red 3500 GTZ
3500 GTZ Interior RHD