We Bet You've Never Seen an Autech Stelvio Zagato Before
And this is your chance to own one.
Milanese coachbuilder Zagato has built some stunning shapes since the company was founded back in 1919. Like Aston Martin’s DB4 Zagato, the Lamborghini 3500 GTZ, and countless more. But they’ve also built some exceptionally strange cars. Like this. The Autech Stelvio Zagato.
Autech was a subsidiary of Nissan that was started in 1986. The company builds highly customised and modified versions of the company’s road cars. It’s like the company’s Nismo brand but instead of a target of high-performance, the target is more on craftsmanship, materials, and attention to detail. So a luxury arm not a track-day arm.
One of the company’s first cars wasn’t just a new trim level like it is today. Instead, the company inked a deal with Zagato to build a luxury coupe intended for the Japanese market. The car would have underpinnings from Nissan and modified by Autech but with styling by Zagato. And Zagato went full on late-1980s wild.
Door mirrors? Forget about them. Zagato put the mirrors into those massive protuberances on the hood. No, they aren’t air extraction vents, they’re mirror pods. The sides appear to have been designed using only a straight edge and a metal brake. Then there’s the hood that around the headlights seems to be missing a piece. Which is actually, well, cause it is. There should be some clear markers there making the whole thing a little more streamlined. That doesn’t excuse the grille, though.
At the back, there’s a full-width taillight. Again with vents in the rear fenders that vent, well, something. Or maybe not. The bumper holds tailpipes that aren’t centered but aren’t in the usual place either. They’re just perched somewhere a little left of center in a very odd placement.
And we haven’t even talked about the wheels. Which have NACA ducts! In the wheels!
We can’t tell you everything about the mindset of Zagato’s designers that year, but we can say you won’t see anything else like this on the road. Though there is some resemblance to the Zagato-designed Alfa Romeo SZ released around the same time. Especially in the rear.
The chassis for the car was Nissan’s second-gen Leopard. A large sports-luxury car that shared a platform with the R31 Nissan Skyline. Power came from a 3.0L V6. The VG30DET, which is related to the 1990 300ZX’s twin-turbo version. In the Leopard, it made 255 hp, but this one has Autech tuning. The seller says it makes more than 300.
The inside is loaded with Italian leather and suede. Plus some real wood. Though the design seems largely still Leopard-based.
Not surprisingly, not a ton of these were made. Only 103, depending on where you look. It may actually have been fewer. That’s because the price tag then was ¥18 million. Or about CAD $138,000. In 1990 money. That was more than an NSX at the time and about $240,000 with inflation. This was a pricey car. Now it’s on eBay for a fraction of that, should you want one.