1964 Alfa Romeo Canguro Concept
Although most TZ2s were bodied by Zagato in Milan, a pair of particularly interesting examples received coachwork by Bertone and Pininfarina. The first, Bertone's Canguro, was executed on behalf of Alfa Romeo who wanted to assess a road-going version's feasibility. Built around chassis 101 during the autumn of 1964, this prototype tubular steel spaceframe was mounted a drastic six inches lower than the original TZ. It wore unique Campagnolo thirteen inch forged magnesium wheels but whether or not the Canguro actually used what would have been an experimental TZ2 motor is currently unknown. Considering it was for all intents and purposes a road car, Alfa's 130bhp unit from the original TZ would probably have sufficed.
What is for certain though is that Bertone's Giorgetto Giugiaro produced one of the most extraordinarily curvaceous designs of the sixties for this car. Covered headlights, doors curving into the roofline and a wraparound rear windscreen were the most striking details - Bertone affording the Canguro little in the way of impact protection. The bodywork was fabricated entirely from aluminum although production versions would almost certainly have been manufactured with glassfibre shells, nice touches including the external fuel filler and Quadrifoglio-shaped cabin vents mounted either side of the roll hoop. Other details showed up later on the 1967 V8-engined Montreal, most obviously the prominent bank of horizontal engine cooling vents carved out from the front wings.
Inside, fibreglass bucket seats were channeled below the floorpan to accommodate drivers of six-feet plus, Bertone trimming the bolsters in vinyl and the perforated centres in woven cloth. Black vinyl was also used on the dash, transmission tunnel and doors, simple rubber mats covering the floor and belying the good deal of soundproofing.
Making its debut on Bertone's stand at the Paris Salon in October 1964, the Canguro caused massive interest before subsequently being handed over to the factory for evaluation that December. Alfa chose not to put the car into limited production though, probably because Autodelta (who would go on to build production TZ2's) were in no position to begin manufacture - only officially being established in December 1964. The Canguro was later damaged by a journalist, although nearly everything was saved.
After remaining in pieces for nearly 30 years, a Japanese collector finished a restoration which began in the early seventies. The Canguro made a triumphant return to show circuits at 2005 Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este. Story by Ben Tyer for QV500.com