The word “hybrid” was once used to describe European sports cars powered by American engines. Even though the meaning of the term, at least in the automotive sphere, has changed since the 1950s, the practice of putting burly American engines into delicately sculpted coupes and convertibles has not vanished completely. And no, we’re not talking about Chryslers rebadged as Lancias.
While coachbuilding as a whole has waned since its (most recent) heyday of the 1960s, when dozens of shops in Italy competed for one-off orders from well-heeled customers who wanted something a little special, some of the larger design houses have managed to hang on. Carrozzeria Zagato has continued to build unique cars from time to time, even though a large chunk of its business now concerns non-automotive industrial design. And just a few years ago, they produced something that in decades past would have been called a hybrid. And this modern hybrid is now for sale in California.
For Alfa Romeo’s 100th birthday in 2010, Zagato built a total of nine TZ3 Stradale cars using the chassis, powertrain and a whole host of interior bits from the Dodge Viper ACR. That means that this coupe received an 8.4-liter V10 engine making an eye-watering (for 2011 anyway) 640 hp and 585 lb-ft of torque. Despite the wheelbase and the engine mounting remaining the same as in the Viper, the TZ3 Stradale nevertheless succeeded in looking like an Alfa Romeo, and a heavy dose of traditional Zagato styling cues made for a unique and arguably handsome look.
The interior has remained largely Viper, though leather has been used to cover up the more spartan surfaces.
Fans of the Viper will probably immediately recognize a lot of the interior that has remained unchanged, at least underneath the chestnut and black leather with which the Viper’s plastic surfaces have been covered. This particular car is advertised as being the seventh of nine cars built, and this metallic-brown example shows just 317 miles on the odometer. Ferrari of Newport Beach is offering this car for sale with a very specific asking price of $699,900, which may or may not be the right price for a limited-production Zagato.
The VIN does decode as a 2010 Dodge, so that is likely how TZ3s are titled and registered in the United States, perhaps avoiding the Show and Display process that keeps most cars out. Speaking of which, there are at least two others in the country: a dark-red example registered in New York and a gray example registered in Montana. Needless to say, you might want to check with your state of registration before you shell out six figures for this car (or any recent coachbuilt Alfa Romeo).
The car received a completely new body, though the profile of the Viper is still visible from some angles.
The Viper underpinnings might offer a discount when it comes to service, though we have trouble seeing these cars accumulating thousands of miles a year. But the exclusivity might well give the owner bragging rights over those who have just an Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione. The Viper interior and underpinnings may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but they’ve likely allowed the build costs to stay reasonable for such an exercise.
Is the price right?