zagato best cars

Are these the 10 most beautiful coachbuilt cars ever made?

A third generation Zagato reveals his family’s finest creations — from Ferraris and Maseratis, to Aston Martins and Lamborghinis

“The next one”, smiles Andrea Zagato. It’s a clever answer to a tricky question: Which of the cars designed by your family’s famous coachbuilding brand is your favourite?

But, with Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati, Porsche and Aston Martin as clients, it’s hardly surprising that the third generation Zagato can’t single out just one of the beautiful motors as his favourite. Instead, the designer maintains a tentative list of his top ten. So buckle up, and get ready to take a spin through some of the most exciting, exquisite cars to ever hit the road.

1930 Alfa Romeo 6C GS

1930 Alfa Romeo 6C GS

Let’s start with a blast from the past. The oldest car to make it into Zagato’s top ten is the light, nimble and prodigiously fast Alfa Romeo 6C GS. It began life as one of the most formidable competitors in world motorsport — and is now coasting into its formative years as a supercharged collector’s item.

1937 Alfa Romeo 8C Aerodinamica

1937 Alfa Romeo 8C Aerodinamica

It’s another Alfa — but what’s to be expected from the top ten list of a proud Italian? The Alfa Romeo 8C was beautiful even before Zagato’s forefathers got their skilled hands on it, but the ‘Aerodinamica’ really is something else. Sleek, tapering lines and an inclined windscreen; this is graceful 1930s styling at its peak.

1938 Lancia Aprilia Sport

1938 Lancia Aprilia Sport

Described at the time of its release as ‘the car of the future’, this Lancia felt the full visionary clout of Zagato. The Italian coachbuilder created just three of these Enrico Minetti-commissioned cars — all subtly different, but sharing the same inspiration of aviation and aeronautical design.

1956 Ferrari 250 GT

1956 Ferrari 250 GT

Now we’re talking. Once Zagato made best friends with Ferrari, so began one of the most iconic and enduring partnerships in design history. This Ferrari 250 used lightweight techniques and a curved low drag body — features that, with fighter pilot Camillo Luglio behind the wheel, won the Italian Sports Car Championship not once, but twice.

1960 Aston Martin DB4 GTZ

1960 Aston Martin DB4 GTZ

The first non-Italian brand to grace Zagato’s list, Aston Martin is another of the company’s enduring partners. And, while the DB4 doesn’t get the recognition we believe it deserves, this GTZ variant has matured into an icon over time. Only 20 were made, but the perspex and aluminium body construction formed a blueprint for scores of super-lightweight speedsters to come.

1960 Porsche Carrera GTL

1960 Porsche Carrera GTL

Back in the 1960s, Porsche prized its mechanics and specs above the looks of its cars. It’d punch louvres in beautiful bonnets without a second thought or cut wider fender openings if it allowed for a more complete steering lock. Thankfully, before Le Mans 1960, it turned to Zagato and Abarth to create this blend of fashion and function: the crouching, muscled and thoroughly handsome Carrera GTL.

1971 Lancia Fulvia Sport 1600

1971 Lancia Fulvia Sport 1600

Distinguished from the garden variety Lancia Fulvia Sports by a matte black radiator grille, chrome edging and flush door handles, the Sport 1600 is a masterclass in subtle styling. These minor tweaks — that also include rubber over-riders on the bumpers and a black band on the bonnet — showed the world that Zagato could change an entire car with just a handful of well-placed, considered touches.

1972 Alfa Romeo JZ 1600

1972 Alfa Romeo JZ 1600

Many of the cars to roll off Zagato’s styling line over the years have provoked conversation and controversy. And this Alfa, with its wedge-shaped body and large, glazed tailgate, kicked up one hell of a fuss. But, despite the shape not corresponding to the taste of the 1970s, today the JZ 1600 is a coveted collector’s item — and remains one of the third generation Zagato’s favourite set of wheels.

1996 Lamborghini Raptor

1996 Lamborghini Raptor

Jumping ahead almost 30 years, the next car in Zagato’s top ten was a collaboration with Lamborghini — another of the iconic coachbuilder’s legendary partners. It was to remain a concept forever, but the carbon fibre bodywork, double-bubble roofline and aggressive front section earns it a place on this lauded list.

2015 Mostro Maserati

2015 Mostro Maserati

The most recent of Zagato’s cars to make the top ten is this Mostro — a svelte supercar that pays homage to classic 1950s Maseratis. With a huge bonnet, rounded tail and upwards-opening doors, this five-piece limited edition motor is among the third-generation Zagato’s proudest moments. “The final design of the Mostro is not nostalgic,” he explains, “but rather iconic.”

Want to know more of Zagato’s guarded Italian secrets? We asked the third generation coachbuilder how to create the ultimate supercar…

Further Reading