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    / #Alfa-Romeo-SZ / #Alfa-Romeo

    OWNER: CHRIS REES
    CAR: ALFA ROMEO SZ
    ALSO OWNS: FIAT PANDA 100HP, MASERATI QUATTROPORTE SPORT GT
    TEAM CARS
    REPORTS ON OUR OWN CARS RUNNING ON THE EDITORIAL FLEET

    It was going to be so simple. Out of hibernation this spring, the job I decided to treat the Alfa SZ to this year was its drooping doors.

    Zagato’s design and construction methods for the SZ certainly left something to be desired – did you know that it built up SZs fully, then took them apart again to paint them? Often the ‘wrong’ opening panels were then put back on the cars. No surprise that SZs tend to suffer from dropping doors over time…

    Mine were needing a good thwack to close, drooping so much that some of the paint was rubbing off the front wings. So off the SZ went to Alfa Aid in Maidenhead, where Adrian Jardine’s team set about the two day process of removing the doors and fixing them to sit straight. The hinges had warped over time, so new hinges (the very last ones in stock) were fitted. There were also no shims at all, as there should be, so Alfa Aid made up a total of 17 new ones to get the doors to sit properly. Great news: they now swing super-smoothly and with a satisfying clunk.

    The SZ was ready just in time for its first outing of the year, a run around Castle Combe with some classic cars (and, as it turned out, Nick Mason’s LaFerrari). But on my very first series of laps, I started feeling a vibration through the gear lever, followed by a sharp noise and then a much louder vibration that made the car sound like a World War 2 bomber. Track session over! I guessed that a propshaft doughnut had perished and, sure enough, when the SZ returned to Adrian for diagnosis, that’s exactly what he found: the middle of the three rubber doughnuts had spat a piece out. No problem: just fit a new doughnut. Yes, it was going to be so simple. Then Adrian sent me a pic of the dismantled propshaft showing the centre spline severely worn – the result of one of the doughnuts having been fitted incorrectly, allowing the shaft to shimmy around. Could it be fixed? After a long investigation by a propshaft specialist, the answer was ‘no’. So it’s a new one, then? Adrian looked at me: “I gave the propshaft people my last remaining SZ shaft to use as a template – and they’ve lost it…”

    After days of extremely anxious waiting – during which time Adrian discovered that no propshafts remain for SZs at all (or, for that matter, Alfa 75 V6s) – he finally said they’d found his last one. On it went and – hey presto – the SZ is back in action! Adrian also cured an annoying rattling sound that’s been plaguing my exhaust ever since I bought the car five years ago. I’ve got used to it, but Adrian says he had to fix it to keep him sane!
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    Chris Rees
    Chris Rees joined the group Alfa Romeo SZ / RZ Club
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    Obscurati curiosities from the amazing world of Italian cars. B#oneschi-Lancia-Flaminia-Amalfi-Spider / Story by Chris Rees. / #Lancia-Flaminia-Spider-Amalfi-824 / #1961 / #Boneschi / #Lancia-Flaminia / #Lancia / #Lancia-Flaminia-Spider / #1961-Lancia-Flaminia-Spider-Amalfi / #Carrozzeria-Boneschi


    Carrozzeria-Boneschi was once one of the stars of Italian coachbuilt couture. Founded in Cambiago, near Milan, at the end of World War I, its founder, Giovanni Boneschi, concentrated on prestige coachwork for upmarket chassis such as the Lancia Lambda, Dilambda, Astura and Aprilia, as well as the Alfa Romeo 6C 2500. It was even thought good enough for official government commissions.

    After WW2, Boneschi turned its attentions to making special bodies for the Alfa Romeo 1900 and Lancia Aurelia B53, and in 1957 signed a deal with Alfa Romeo to transform Giuliettas into Giardinetta estate cars. In 1960 it launched coachbuilt Alfa Romeo 2600s with coupe or cabriolet bodywork.

    In April 1961, it returned to Lancia stable with a new Flaminia-based convertible, styled by industrial designer Rodolfo Bonetto. Bonetto was a fascinating figure. He abandoned a career as a jazz drummer to take up car design. In this he was inspired by his uncle, Felice Bonetto, the well-known racing driver. Nicknamed ‘The Pirate’, Felice raced works Maseratis and Alfa Romeos – and even won the Grande Premio do Jubileu Formula 1 race in 1953.

    Back to Rodolfo, he was very much a self-taught stylist. His talents were recognised by Pininfarina, where he worked from 1951 to 1957, before setting up his own design studio in Milan in 1958. He worked with numerous companies, not just Boneschi but Vignale and Viotti as well. Bonetto went on to become one the great names in Italian architecture and industrial design, creating objects as diverse as musical instruments, TVs, suitcases and hi-fi systems. He won no fewer than eight ‘Compasso d'Oro’ design awards, including one for the interior of the Fiat 131 Supermirafiori in 1978.

    Let’s return to 1961 and the subject of our piece, Bonetto’s first work for Boneschi. Launched at the 1961 Turin Motor Show, it was based on a Lancia Flaminia chassis originally destined for Carrozzeria Touring (chassis 824.04) and was fitted with a 119hp engine.

    Bonetto’s compact two-seater roadster was very unusual. Its lines were just about as sharpedged as any Italian design ever got. In some ways it reflected the new squared-off shapes emerging from the USA and perhaps could even be said to prefigure the ‘folded paper’ school of design that Giugiaro would follow in the next decade.

    The bonnet, for instance, was almost completely flat, as was the boot lid. The front wings were angled forwards and their top edges were so sharply pointed that you might expect to slice your fingers on them if you traced their outline. The rear end, meanwhile, was cleanliness taken to a new extreme.

    In an age when recessed door handles were not commonplace, the idea of bevelling the handles into the doors was a novel one. The four headlamps appeared to ‘float’ in the heavily chromed grille.

    The car was dubbed the Amalfi Spider and was painted ivory with red sills, plus a red interior and soft-top. Overall the shape might not be described as classically beautiful but for its time it was extremely striking. It remained, however, a one-off.

    Bonetto went on to design the extraordinary (and curiously named) Maserati 3500 GT ‘Tight’ for Boneschi in 1962, followed by the more appealing Boneschi OSCA 1600 GT ‘Swift’ in 1963.

    However, that was it for Bonetto and Boneschi, a company for which the early 1960s marked a turning point. The business of high-class coachwork was in terminal decline and the carrozzeria was forced to turn its attention to making buses, trucks and armoured vehicles. It even sank as low as making sanitary fittings. However, it did still make the occasional car, including a two-door version of the Lancia Thema in the 1980s, called the Gazella. Boneschi was eventually swallowed up by Carrozzeria Savio of Turin.
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    Chris Rees
    Chris Rees joined the group Lancia Flaminia
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    Chris Rees
    Chris Rees is now friends with John Simister
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    Chris Rees

    Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano Open Group

    Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano

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    Chris Rees
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    Chris Rees is now following John Simister
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