By: IOL Motoring Staff
Lake Como, Italy - There exists in Italian design culture a tradition of one-off show cars - futuristic, handmade bodies on (usually) standard chassis.
These are not concepts; they're shaped by the design language of the studio, rather than that of the donor chassis’ maker, and they're always complete cars, built to order for wealthy customers who are prepared to pay a small fortune for a truly unique car.
And none is more distinctive than the Milanese studio founded in 1919 by Ugo Zagato. Its tie-up with Sant'Agata goes back to 1965, when Ferruchio Lamborghini provided a slightly shorter than standard 350 GT chassis and running gear, upon which Ugo's son Elio built a magnificent all-aluminium two-seater coupé for former Formula One driver, Marchese Gerino Gerini, which was the star of that year's London Motor Show.
This year Zagato celebrates its 95th anniversary with another such car, built to order for wealthy car collector Albert Spiess and shown for the first time at the prestigious Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este this past weekend.
LAMBORGHINI 5-95 ZAGATO
The 5-95 is based on the Gallardo LP570-4, Lamborghini's most successful model yet; in fact the Gallardo outnumbers the rest of Lamborghini production since it was founded in 1963.
At the front, a floating spoiler, inspired by that of the 1996 Lamborghini Raptor Zagato, underlines a carbon-fibre firewall that conceals the front air intakes.
Continuous glass surfaces - a design feature pioneered by Zagato in the late 1940s - surround the pillar-less body, reducing noise and improving aerodynamics.
As on the Raptor, the familiar Lamborghini side intakes have been visually reduced to a minimum by adding concealed slots in the glass surfaces and an additional rally-style air-intake nestling in the double-bubble roof (a signature Zagato design feature) that feeds cool air directly to the intake manifold.
The typically monolithic Lamborghini rear treatment becomes a trademark Zagato 'coda tronca' (chopped tail) that puts mechanical components such as the tail-light mountings, heat exchangers and active spoiler on display.
The idea, according to Andrea Zagato, was to emphasise the front of the car by compressing the rear treatment - there's even a new wind deflector at the base of the windscreen to increase the perceived length of the bonnet, which also has the practical function of smoothing the airflow over the windscreen wipers.
Anybody who has ever worked on one will tell you that there is absolutely no wasted space in a Gallardo body, yet Andrea Zagato has succeeded in creating a unique shape around a complete set of Gallardo mechanicals - including all the active and passive safety features - that makes the original body look a little blocky, even clumsy.
As Freddie Mercury so neatly put it, it's a kind of magic.