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The Giulia SWB Zagato is a beautiful one-off Alfa

Only the design house could make this car even more stunning

The Giulia SWB Zagato is considered to be a direct successor to the unique-looking SZ. PHOTO FROM ZAGATO

Alfa Romeo and Zagato are two Italian brands with illustrious names and a long tradition of working together. The first cooperation dates back 101 years, and resulted in the Alfa Romeo G1 Carrozzeria Zagato gracing the world. On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of their first project together, the two firms decided in 2021 to create a very special vehicle to commemorate their joint history.

The plan was to turn a current Alfa Romeo Giulia into a coupe and clothe it with a carbon body in typical Zagato style. Now, that one-off has become a reality. Say hello to the Giulia SWB Zagato.

The beautiful machine you see here started life as an Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, and is a homage to earlier Zagato models, in particular the Alfa SZ that was built from 1989 to 1993. That revived the connection between Alfa Romeo and Zagato at the time.

Alfa Romeo, in the shape of design chief Alejandro Mesonero, supported the project from the beginning, but the Milan design house was solely responsible for the development and implementation. And Zagato once again showed why it is one of the best-loved names in car design.

You would not know what car this is based on if not for this article. PHOTOS FROM ZAGATO

The Giulia base car is almost unrecognizable. Instead of just making a coupe out of a sedan, the Italians went on to create a masterpiece. The front is carefully tapered, and the headlights are positioned nice and low, with three daytime running lights on each sidea reference to the current Alfa models on the one hand, but also a homage to the SZ on the other.

The classic Scudetto, the V-shaped shield Alfas are famous for, takes pride of place between the headlights, and instead of an Alfa logo, there is an additional air intake above the radiator grille. The famous snake and the Milan city logo are subtly integrated into the radiator grille, and the rest of the front consists almost exclusively of air intakes, which gives this unique piece an aggressive but at the same time elegant look.

One might think that this looks like an Aston Martin, but Zagato also has had its history with the British manufacturer. PHOTOS FROM ZAGATO

Only when admired in profile view does it become clear how low the headlights are actually positioned, and both the Quadrifoglio logo and the Zagato emblem can be seen on the front wings. The artists at Zagato won’t reveal by how much the Giulia’s normally 2.82m-long wheelbase has been shortened, and won’t divulge the overall measurements either. But it’s clear to the eye that the Giulia SWB is very compact and therefore not at all reminiscent of the base vehicle.

The doors come without any visible handles, and the newly shaped carbon exterior mirrors are now attached to them. The rear quarter panels have been expertly flared and give the one-off a beefy appearance, while the rear is simply delectable and contains practically no trace of the original Giulia. Instead, it exudes serious Aston Martin vibes. The very narrow light strip, which is interrupted in two places, is inevitably reminiscent of the current Aston Martin Vantage, and a center dual exhaust and a carbon diffuser round off the look.

Naturally, it's a two-seater, with a gorgeous cabin to match. PHOTOS FROM ZAGATO

While it’s hard to single out just one design feature as a highlight given the level of craftsmanship, the iconic “double bubble” roof deserves a special mention. In Zagato history, this once innovative design solution can be found on many coupe models like the Fiat 750 Abarth Zagato or the Aston Martin V12 Zagato. In this latest creation, the entire roof section is finished in carbon fiber, which provides a nice contrast to the green paintwork.

The interior matches the exterior color, with green leather gracing the steering wheel, the dashboard, and the seats. The carbon bucket seats from the Giulia Quadrifoglio have been reupholstered, and are now adorned with Alfa Romeo lettering and Zagato logos. Since the SWB is a coupe, there are naturally no rear seats, but there is something that will delight purists: This one-off is a manual, even though Alfa no longer offers the manual six-speed gearbox for the Giulia Quadrifoglio.

The Giulia GTAm was already a very potent machine to begin with, so the lucky owner shouldn't feel shortchanged. PHOTO FROM ZAGATO

All that’s left to write about are the performance figures, but unfortunately, Alfa hasn’t revealed all of them. Although Zagato revealed that the well-known 2.9-liter V6 biturbo with Ferrari genes is under the carbon hood, the company won’t say much else. Only that the engine comes in GTAm specification, and that would mean 540hp and 600Nm, as well as acceleration from 0-100 km/h in 3.6 seconds.

The manual box might make it a bit slower than that, but let’s be honest: Whether it’s one- or two-tenths slower or not doesn’t matter anyway with this beautiful machine. The new owner, by the way, is a collector from Germany who already owns numerous Zagatos. Lucky guy.

Frank Schuengel

Frank is a German e-commerce executive who loves his wife, a Filipina, so much he decided to base himself in Manila. He has interesting thoughts on Philippine motoring. He writes the aptly named ‘Frankly’ column.