In the 100 years since Zagato was founded, the Italian coachbuilder has designed its fair share of memorable bodywork. Who could forget the Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato, with its beautifully rounded rear fenders, or the Fiat Abarth 750 GT Zagato and its trademark ‘double bubble’ roofline? But not all of Zagatos designs were destined to win beauty pageants. Some Zagato creations truly had looks that only a mother could appreciate.
Case in point, this 1990 Ferrari 348 TB, one of some 10 348s to be given Zagato’s Elaborazione conversion. The car pictured is actually the prototype that Zagato used to introduce the Elaborazione package to the world at the 1991 Geneva Motor Show, after which it was sold to its first and only owner. But that’s about to change, as after 19,500 km of fun (just over 12,100 miles) the car’s keeper has decided to put it up for auction at RM Sotheby’s Villa Erba auction, held in conjunction with the annual Villa d’Este concours on the shores of Lake Como, Italy, later this month.
Zagato’s Elaborazione conversion is a primarily cosmetic kit which gave the then-all-new 348 TB coupe (‘348’ for the car’s 3.4-liter eight-cylinder engine, ‘T’ for the transverse-mounted gearbox, and ‘B’ for the Berlinetta coupe bodywork) a decidedly different look. The new front bumper boasted quad circular driving lights, with a black Cavallino Rampante flanked by two circular grilles. The door’s side strakes, which channel air to the rear-mounted radiator, were removed in favor of a form resembling half of the NACA ducts used on various race cars and other Ferrari models. A race-style, exposed fuel-filler cap, three vertical strakes on the rear fender (à la 288 GTO), a six-taillight rear fascia, OZ Racing wheels, and a glass-covered engine lid were all distinctive add-ons. And then there’s the double-bubble roof panel, which marks the car as a Zagato design.
Inside, a Momo ‘Zagato Design’ steering wheel (also fitted from new to the Alfa Romeo SZ and RZ and the JDM Honda NSX Type-S) is covered in suede, as is the lower dash and door panels. The car’s serial number and special Zagato production number—in this case 000P Z, being the prototype car—is featured at the bottom of the center console, just behind the open, dogleg-pattern five-speed shift gate. With an estimate of €180,000 to €220,000 ($201,000 to $246,000), RM Sotheby’s is expecting quite a premium for the Zagato-ized Ferrari 348 TB. A relatively unloved model, the standard 348 coupe with similar miles and would likely fetch somewhere between $40,000 and $50,000 in the U.S. What price rarity?