My Car Quest

May 16, 2021

The Alfa Romeo Canguro From a Mouse House to a Classic

by Wallace Wyss –

If they ever have a theme of Giorgetto Giugiaro’s best designs at Pebble Beach or Amelia Island, I’d nominate the Alfa Romeo Canguro (kangaroos). It was built on the tube chassis of the lightweight Alfa Romeo TZ. Now Alfa has Zagato build the Tubolare racing coupes but then thought why not see what it looks like as a GT car, and went to Bertone for a one off coupe body.

Alfa Romeo Canguro

And generously they sent a chassis to rival Pininfarina, so this became a contest mano-a-mano. Which design house would get the production contract? But I say Bertone won because this is the version remembered most.

Giugiaro was already celebrated in Alfa circles for designing the Giulia Sprint of the previous year. Giugiaro went for a curvaceous fiberglass fastback body – sporting what is called a Kamm-back tail after the German aerodynamicist Dr. Wunibald Kamm, who even before the war, had theorized that a tapered tail was best for aerodynamics but if that was impractical, chopping off the tail abruptly would suffice. Pete Brock is famous for doing the chopped off tail of the Cobra Daytona Coupe in ’64 so you wonder if he saw this car first before he put pen to paper?

Alfa Romeo Alfa Romeo Canguro

It was also one of the first applications for a glued-in windscreen and carried his signature side vents, also used in the Iso Grifo A3/C race car which he designed.

The car was first shown at the 1964 Paris Motor Show, but inexplicably Alfa chose neither design because Autodelta, the firm’s racing arm, couldn’t tool up for mass production.

Then came the accident during filming a promo for Shell Oil at the Monza circuit, where it was rear-ended by another one-off Bertone concept, the 1963 Chevrolet Testudo. Bertone turned down the chance to fix it, because it would involve thousands of man hours. The Corvair was rebuilt.

Alfa Romeo Canguro

And since the idea of making a production car on the GTZ chassis had been shelved, they didn’t need it for promotional purposes. So it met the fate of many a concept car–parked outside for the mice to live in.

Then it was rescued. Now I first heard it was an American teacher working at a US military base school in Germany that discovered it, a man named Gary Schmidt. Maybe he was writing about cars too as some identify him as a German journalist. He fell in love with it, bought it as a wreck and tried to re-do it. But the shop(s) he picked weren’t able to get the shape right. He died but his dream of getting it back on the road didn’t die with him.

A Japanese collector, who already owned the one off Pininfarina version, Shiro Kosaka, bought it and had it restored for its re-debut at the 2005 Ville d’Este, where it was voted ‘Best in Show’. Schmidt had died two years earlier so never saw “his” car winning at the concours.

Alfa Romeo Canguro

Alfa TZ-1s, particularly with racing records, are highly prized so ordinarily, if this car had been designed by a no-name designer, it might now already be re-bodied as a TZ-1. But owing to the fact Giugiaro has become one of the most famous designers of the 20th Century, this car has vaulted in value.

Of course it has no bumpers so I think it’s unlikely it could be a design that is reincarnated as it might not look as good with bumpers. It makes us wish for those days when bumpers were not required.

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Wallace Wyss

THE AUTHOR/ARTIST: Wallace Wyss is a fine artist. Look for his Art & Books booth at Concorso this August. If you can’t make it but are interested in the art, write malibucarart@gmail.com

 

 

 

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The Alfa Romeo Canguro From a Mouse House to a Classic
Article Name
The Alfa Romeo Canguro From a Mouse House to a Classic
Description
If they ever have a theme of Giorgetto Giugiaro's best designs at Pebble Beach or Amelia Island, I'd nominate the Alfa Romeo Canguro.
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Comments

  1. AA Lancaster says

    2nd if not 1st, it made it into produation

  2. wallace wyss says

    As much as I like Giugiaro’s Ghibli, the Ghibi is the introduction of flat (or nearly flat) planes where the Canguro is all about curves. It seems like the car design world goes through this flat-planes-or-curves sea change every few years.

  3. SKIP HINOJOS says

    OMG. I WOULD KILL FOR THAT ALFA !!! IVE ALWAYS LUSTED FOR A GHIBLI TOO. I HAD A MISTRAL, ONE TIME.

    AND AN ALFA 2600 SPRINT

  4. Wayne Watkins says

    Obviously got a bit of Aussie in it as well , as there aren’t too many Kangaroos in Italy !

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