Coachbuilder. Brianza and Zagato: a story on two tracks. In 1923 the Ugo Zagato anonymous company was founded, with headquarters in a modern factory in viale Brianza 10. The financing partners were Giuseppe Gasparini and senator Aldo Finzi, whose brother Gino assumed the office of president; the team of investors also had the right contacts to guarantee the company important orders from Alfa Romeo, which began with the collaboration for the development of the 6C 1500. This guaranteed success and notoriety and allowed production to grow rapidly, extending to the main chassis of the time - Diatto, FIAT, Isotta-Fraschini, Itala, OM and even Rolls-Royce - which Zagato set up with bodies ranging from luxury models to, above all, sports ones. The results obtained in the race of the cars with bodywork by Zagato contributed most to the success and visibility of the company, but the financial management was not at the same level as the technical one. Therefore, also due to the effects of the economic crisis of 1929, which arrived in Italy with a certain delay but still affected, especially the production of luxury goods, Zagato suffered a collapse from which it seemed unable to recover. The shareholders who then held the majority - Cesare Francia, Aurelio Moro and Baroness Ruby Nalderl - were forced to liquidate it in 1932 and, with a rather risky move, simultaneously took over the factory and workers to found the Carrozzeria Brianza the next day (from the name of the place where it was based, in corso Brianza 10). Ugo Zagato was involved in the new initiative. The shareholders offered him, in fact, a minority stake free of charge to secure his role as technical director. However, he decided to pull back almost immediately, counting on Alfa Romeo's promise to entrust him with the production of the bodies for the 6C 1750 sedan. With this in mind, he found some financiers to take over the Carrozzeria Dux from Vittorio Ascari (the brother of the famous driver Antonio) and, therefore, to open the Anonima Carrozzeria Ugo Zagato & C in the same room in via Marco Ulpio Traiano 38 (right in front of the Alfa Romeo's Portello factory). In reality, the Alfa Romeo order would never have arrived and in 1934 Zagato was forced to close again. He briefly returned to Carrozzeria Brianza as a consultant, but then managed to convince Teresa Johnson to finance the establishment of the Italian Carrozzeria La Zagato, based in a workshop in Corso Sempione 25. The new business started very quietly, initially limiting itself only to the repair of damaged cars. Still on used chassis, however, he soon went back to building some sports cars, gaining confidence from the Ambrosian Scuderia and the Florentine de Rham Scuderia thanks to his ability to create very light bodies. Applying the skills gained in the days of aeronautical construction, in fact, he specialized in aluminum processing, becoming one of the leading Italian specialists. At the end of the 1930s, a successful series of barchettas (competition cars with open bodywork) based on the Fiat 500 Topolino also arose, often in collaboration with SIATA (Società Italiana Applicazioni Tecniche Auto-Aviatorie), a Turin-based company specializing in components for racing cars. With the closure of Carrozzeria Brianza, in 1938, he also acquired the contract, not illustrious but certainly profitable, for the cabins of the Isotta-Fraschini trucks. However, the growth in profits allowed him to take over the majority stake in the company from Johnson to become the sole owner, while transferring it to a larger room across the street, in Corso Sempione 27.
We'll tell the story of this company on the occasion of its anniversary or when it will reach a sufficient number of cars.
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1932 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Gran Sport
- Coachbuilder: Carrozzeria Brianza
- Chassis n°: 6C10814395
- Engine n°: 10814395
1933 Alfa Romeo 6C 1500 Gran Sport
- Coachbuilder: Zagato
- Chassis n°: 6C10814406
- Engine n°: 10814406