The Alfa Romeo SZ designed, in just 19 months, by Robert Opron, responsible for the equally alien Citroen SM, and Antonio Castellana with a little input from Zagato amongst others was dubbed The Monster when it was launched in 1990, one either loves or hates its ‘back street speed shop’ styling.
The Sprint Zagato was powered by a 210 hp 2,959 cc / 180 cui alloy V6, good for a 150 mph and matched to a superb chassis thanks to the work of Giorgio Pianta who fine tuned the Alfa Romeo 75 chassis inherited from the Group A / IMSA racing programme.
Unfortunately the SZ was launched in the middle of a world recession making it very difficult to sell the 998 Rosso Alfa coloured vehicles. It is believed that there were an additional 38 prototypes and pre production models, many of which are thought to have been scrapped.
Sales of the SZ were boosted by a ‘one model’ SZ Trophy racing series for which participants were offered a 25% discount on the purchase price of an SZ.
Despite the difficulty selling the SZ when production ceased in 1991 the roadster RZ version of the composite plastic bodied SZ was put into production and went on sale in 1992.
Like the SZ the RZ has a hydraulic lifting mechanism activated by a button which allows the ride height to be raised by 50 mm / 2 inches in order to negotiate bumps in the road surface.
The RZ proved even more difficult to sell than the SZ so production was abandoned after just 278 of the planned 350 were completed, in light of the success of the BMW Z series sports cars perhaps the SZ and RZ were just half a decade ahead of their time.
With thanks to E van der Beek and A.Ritzinger for additional information.
Hope you have enjoyed today’s back street racer edition of ‘Gettin’ a lil’ psycho on tyres’ and that you’ll join me again tomorrow on Ferrari Friday for a look at 3 flat 12 racers. Don’t forget to come back now !