The 1970s opened in style for lovers of sporty Alfa Romeos, who had been metaphorically licking their lips since the Junior Zagato was presented at the Turin Motor Show in November 1969. It was part of Alfa’s 105 series and shared a floorpan – and lots of components -with the Giulia Spider, although the Junior Z was altogether more exclusive.
Its public availability from the beginning of 1970 extended the 105 series GT Junior range, which had already sold well to those who wanted a stylish coupe that handled well and was fairly sporty – whilst also having a small motor to beat high Italian taxation on large engine capacities.
The GT 1300 Junior was made from 1965 until 1977, with a GT 1600 Junior added in 1972. But those with a nose for something special got really excited when the 1300 Junior Zagato hit the streets, for that added another dimension to their motoring pleasure. The Junior Z was a very different animal from the standard Junior 1300, with a classic short-tailed sporting coupe body aerodynamically crafted by Ercole Spada for Zagato of Milan, purveyor of fine automobile design to the likes of Aston Martin, Lancia and Maserati.
This was a fairly exclusive offering, with a strictly limited number built, and added excitement was generated amongst Alfa aficionados because it was very reminiscent of Giulietta Sprint Zagatos which had previously raced with great success, although the wedge-shaped 1300 Junior Z was not itself intended as a track star.
Two years later this splendid little coupe was no more – but only because it was replaced in 1972 by the equally dashing 1600 Junior Zagato with its longer back end and improved performance. This would remain a low-production offering until 1976, when the new Alfetta range took over.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
1970 (until 1976)
1,290 cc or 1,570 cc Straight Four
Top speed of 118 mph (190 km/h); 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 11.2 secs
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
It won’t be easy to find a Junior Z to drive: Zagato (despite stretching production facilities to the limit) only built 1,108 1300 JZs and a mere 402 1600 JZs – though the effort did put Zagato on a par with other carrozzeria like Bertone and Pininfarina in terms of its commercial relationship with Alfa.