Cars you didn’t know you want: 1993 Alfa Romeo 155 Ti.Z


Justin Narayan


Here’s an Alfa Romeo you probably know nothing, or very little, about.

The Alfa Romeo 155 Ti.Z is a coach-built, low-volume special edition that actually made it to production, even if it never went on sale in Europe.

The story goes that legendary Italian car designer Ercole Spada proposed the project while working at legendary Milan-based design studio, Zagato.

Spada was already a seriously accomplished car designer when he joined the studio in 1993. He was BMW’s chief stylist in the mid-1970s, helping with the design of the now-iconic BMW E34 5-Series.

In the 1980s, he led Italian design and engineering house Institute of Development in Automotive Engineering (I.DE.A Institute) putting his pen to everything from the 1992 Alfa Romeo 155 to the 1993 Nissan Terrano II.

Interestingly, it’s the Alfa Romeo 155 that Spada would revisit. Now in 1993 – and recently installed as Zagato’s chief stylist – Spada proposed the idea of a special-edition Alfa Romeo 155, one that would capture the Italian marque’s motorsport essence.

Spada proposed a very boxy, DTM-styled design, leaving the engineering and powertrain to Giuseppe Bizzarrini. If that name sounds familiar then yes, you’re right – he is the (eldest) son of Italian motorsport god, Giotto Bizzarrini.

Like his father, Bizzarrini cut his teeth at the highest level, by starting his career as an F1 composites engineer in the 1980s, then later starting a business that helped create casts and design moulds for cars like the Alfa Romeo SZ, another Zagato design.

Bizzarrini beefed up the Alfa Romeo 155’s suspension, added numerous chassis reinforcements, but more importantly mated the Lancia Delta’s 160kW turbocharged four-cylinder engine to the 155’s Q4 all-wheel drive system (also Lancia-based).

The car was wheeled in front of Alfa Romeo’s top brass, who under the lens of financial strife and scrutiny said, ‘no’.

Here’s where things get interesting. The grandson of the Zagato family manages to drum-up enough funds from a small consortium of Japanese businessmen in search of fine European motoring.

After all, Nissan had funded the weird, wacky and wonderful Autech Stelvio by Zagato to satiate this new-wave of demand. You can click here to read more about that story.

The idea got up, and 21 production cars were built exclusively for the Japan market under the Z Automobili brand, the car called Alfa Romeo 155 Ti.Z.

All 21 were hand-built in Italy and received the DTM-inspired body kits, with six of the 21 cars produced copping the sweet Lancia Delta Integrale spec motor.

A total of 13 received the regular Alfa Romeo four-cylinder naturally-aspirated donk, one a Busso V6, with the final car’s engine remaining a mystery until this day.

Today, thanks to its scarcity, the Alfa Romeo Ti.Z commands a big premium over a regular Alfa 155. An example in excellent condition (pictured in the above gallery) recently sold for approximately $AU40,000.


Justin Narayan

After more than a decade working in the product planning and marketing departments of brands like Kia, Subaru and Peugeot, Justin Narayan returned to being a motoring writer – the very first job he held in the industry.

Read more about Justin Narayan LinkIcon