John Webber
John Webber
11/4/20 8:30 a.m.

“Junior” means different things to different people. Mention the word down around Atlanta and you’re likely to learn exactly where NASCAR’s favorite son ranks in the Sprint Cup points race. But bring up “junior” to a true Alfisti, and you’re in for an entertaining tale about a tiny, streamlined fastback that few have seen but many would love to own: the Junior Zagato 1600.

In the case of the Zagato-bodied Alfa, calling it Junior might have been descriptive—the term denoted a smaller engine displacement for tax-conscious buyers—but it probably didn’t do much for its image. Despite the second-rate model designation, the car presented an entirely new design that combined innovative features in a lightweight, nimble and slippery package. 

When Zagato started designing the Junior Z in 1968, the Milan-based coachbuilder had already been building distinctive, high-quality bodies for Alfa Romeo for decades. Zagato had firmly established itself as one of the world’s top coachbuilders. 

Ercole Spada, the car’s designer, had already styled Alfa’s SZ and TZ models, along with the Aston Martin DB4GT Z, Lancia Flaminia, Rover TCZ and others. Zagato is still in business today and continues to produce exclusive, rakish designs and one-off prototypes for top automakers. 

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