BIC: What, in your opinion, might a sports car look like in the year 2050?
AZ: Most likely, sports cars will only be drivable on the race track and hence have a completely free form. Over the last 20 years, people have been building the ultimate garage to exhibit their cars and show them off to their friends. Today, if you are enormously affluent, you buy your own racetrack to race with your friends, and so the question of whether or not the cars are homologated is immaterial.
BIC: You often champion the Zagato “Gran Turismo”. Which, among the current models on the market, is your favourite Gran Turismo?
AZ: Today, the technological challenge can be mastered by concentrating the various makes into a few large automotive groups – a strategy that will result in the systematic standardisation of all components. Furthermore, should the electric motor prevail, the standardisation of all automotive subsystems will become increasingly evident and inevitable. According to this scenario, design could become the main element of differentiation with the history of the models – even more so than the history of the Bonnet brands (associated as they are with an obsolete technology) – becoming the main competitive edge. Synthetic fuels are, in my view, being phased out by incoming government regulations.
BIC: Over the course of its rich history, the House of Zagato has collaborated with a number of famous makes. Who else would you most like to work with?
AZ: Alpine! I have already worked with Luca de Meo, the “re-inventor of Alpine”, in my eyes, one of the finest car managers, something I would gladly do again. Besides, Alpine is a French cult car and at Zagato we have yet to work with French makes.
MZ: I like the McLaren brand, both for their history and their racing culture. I think they might benefit from a more minimalist style, though with the same aggressiveness.
BIC: Zagato is known, above all, for its car design. Yet you also design other products such as bicycles or motorbikes. Are there other products you might like to design?
AZ: A motor boat. We have already launched this project and intend to unveil it in the coming year.
MZ: A house or hotel – I have a huge passion for interior design. My brother is an architect in America and I’ve already completed a number of projects with him and would very much like to do the same here in Italy. You never know, we are in preliminary talks with a Canadian luxury group for a joint hotel project.
BIC: So how would you characterise a Zagato client in 2022?
AZ: They are surely savvy enough to choose a collector’s item rather than a consumer item, a significant model rather than a less significant one.
BIC: In what way, does the Zagato client of today differ from his counterpart some 50-60 years ago?
AZ: 50-60 years ago, there were gentleman drivers and racing drivers.
MZ: Today, we have collectors.
BIC: Your grandfather, Ugo, was initially in aeronautical engineering. In what ways did this experience impact the design of Zagato’s cars?
MZ: It is this technology transfer that is at the heart of the Zagato design language. Thanks to the stylistic compatibility with the idea of the founder, Ugo Zagato, and the resistance to adhere to current trends, all Zagato versions – whether two-door coupé or speedster/roadster – become collector’s items.
BIC: In the age of CAD and mass production, most traditional “coachbuilders” have simply ceased to exist. What, would you suggest, are the characteristics that have enabled Zagato to flourish to this day?
AZ: The shift to lean production lines in car manufacturing plants and the proliferation of in-house styling centres has culminated in the demise of most of the traditional coachbuilders and external design studios. Zagato has, of course, neither designed nor produced large-scale series, but invariably bespoke series in limited editions.
BIC: What in Zagato’s history has been its most emblematic design? What is your favourite car?
AZ: Definitely the next model! Yet if I were obliged to single out a few models from the past, I would opt for the following:
- Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 M Aerodinamica & Lancia Aprilia Sport from the inter-war period.
- Ferrari 250 GTZ & Aston Martin DB4 GTZ in the post-war period
- Lamborghini Raptor & Maserati Mostro Barchetta from among the contemporaries
BIC: What is the best professional advice you have ever been given?
AZ: It was when Giorgetto Giugiaro once said to me “Unless we are faster and of greater flexibility than car manufacturers, we have no raison d’être.”
MZ: For me, one important advisor was Alejandro de Tomaso, a friend of my father’s. He was really quite a forceful personality. He was brilliant in many ways, perhaps not necessarily in business, but he taught me how to master life in general. I’m still good friends with his wife, Isabella.
BIC: What are you most proud about?
AZ: That our company has arrived at its 100th anniversary in a good and sound condition and, according to Magneto Magazine, it is today the number one coachbuilder in history.
BIC: Who among the famous figures would you like to spend a summer evening with?
MZ: Elon Musk is surely a wild, visionary investor and I’d be delighted to pick his brains over dinner one night.
AZ: I would like to have dinner with someone who could simply explain the current situation of the world, and tell me how things are going to unfold. The world is so complex and confusing at present.
BIC: What are the qualities you must admire about your wife Marella?
AZ: She possesses so many great qualities, such as class, fine taste, a very keen intelligence, and she is able to change from numbers to colours in a flash. She is beautiful, but I also love all her shortcomings.