Going from drop-top to drop-jaw

While a six-figure automobile might be impressive to you and me, it takes much more than a string of zeroes to impress the wealthy. That’s where custom coachbuilders like Zagato come in, offering something the affluent tend to find far more attractive – exclusivity. Such is the case with this highly limited bespoke two-seater, dubbed the Maserati GS Zagato. Originally commissioned by Paolo Boffi, a heavyweight in the world of luxury furnishing and design, the GSZ is based on the Maserati GranSport Spyder, with styling cues taken from classic ‘50s and ‘60s gran tourers. Its all-aluminum body was handmade by Zagato, successfully trasforming the Maserati from contemporary convertible, to classic coupe.

According to Zagato, “This is the mission of a modern automobile atelier: to create timeless objects that celebrate prestigious models and brands and which, unlike mass produced vehicles, are destined to last for ever [sic].”

Sounds about right. While mechanically unaltered over the factory-spec GranSport Spyder, the exterior of the GSZ is a visual tour-de-force, happily marrying traditional Italian sports car inspiration with modern-day underpinnings.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2007 Maserati GS Zagato.

  • 2007 Maserati GS Zagato
  • Year:
    2007
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • 0-60 time:
    4.9 sec.
  • Top Speed:
    177.1 mph
  • Overall:
    6.8/10

History And Background

2007 Maserati GS Zagato
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In 1919, after leaving Officine Aeronautiche Pomilio at the age of 29, Ugo Zagato founded the company that still bears his name today. Zagato wanted to apply the aeronautical principles of low-weight/high-strength construction to the world of automobiles, with a strong focus on the utilization of aluminum. As a result, he and his customers experienced a good deal of success in racing. Zagato was also known as one of the first builders to apply aerodynamics to a motorcar.

Zagato was also known as one of the first builders to apply aerodynamics to a motorcar.

Through the years, Zagato worked closely with a variety of major automakers, including Alfa Romeo, Aston Martin, Ferrari, Fiat, Jaguar, Lamborghini, Lancia, and of course, Maserati, making both racing cars and road cars.

These days, Zagato concentrates primarily on specialty projects for select clientele, and the vehicles it produces go on display at top-shelf concours events around the world. One such event is the Concours d’Elegance Villa d’Este, which is held near Lake Como in northern Italy. It’s here where the GSZ made its world debut in 2007.

At the time, the GSZ was one of several creations coming from Zagato, with two additional models debuting at the Geneva Motor Show a month prior (the Diatto Ottovu and the Spyker C12 Zagato), and another at the Villa d’Este event in 2006 (the Ferrari 575 GTZ).

The GSZ takes its cues from the Maserati A6 G Zagato, a grand tourer that debuted as the A6 G 2000 Gran Turismo at the 1954 Mondial de l’Automobile in Paris. Zagato was one of three coachbuilders to have a go at crafting a body for the A6 G, offering a fastback design specifically tailored for competition. Only 20 were ever made.

Exterior

2007 Maserati GS Zagato
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2007 Maserati GS Zagato
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2007 Maserati GS Zagato
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Placed next to a bone-stock Maserati GranSport Spyder, it’s obvious where the GSZ comes from. However, by itself, the coupe has a presence that’s undoubtedly unique. The look is sleeker and more cohesive than on the convertible, with graceful lines that flow unbroken into the rounded, finely sculpted tail.

In front, we find headlights that closely resemble those on the Spyder, with a black background for the housing and dual projectors. The hood also appears to be unchanged. However, Zagato completely reworked the lower bumper, adding an oval central intake that’s bisected by a chrome Maserati Trident (similar to the A6 G), plus a more subtle lip spoiler. The changes smooth the nose and greatly simplify the overall look of the car.

The look is sleeker and more cohesive than on the convertible, with graceful lines that flow unbroken into the rounded, finely sculpted tail.

Moving to the sides, influence from the A6 G starts to manifest itself a little more concretely. Gone are the creases and cuts found on the Spyder. Instead, the GSZ uses unembellished side skirts that add to the solidity of the design. Up top, we get a view of the trademark double-bubble roof, which falls gradually into the rear. Zagato’s signature “Z” can be found below the side markers in the front fenders. In the corners are the Spyder’s factory wheels.

But it’s from behind where we find the GSZ’s most dramatic angles. The side windows of the fastback roofline meet the rear window in the tail by way of right angles, similar to the A6 G. The space between the two pieces of glass is extremely narrow, visually tying the rear to the flanks.

The result is an almost hatch-like tail, transforming the GSZ into a modern A6 G with a rounded, oval shape, rather than the square of the Spyder. The LED taillights are also round, once again echoing the A6 G. Dual exhaust tips were placed at opposing corners of the lower bumper, sitting flush with the body.

To my eye, the front end is too plain, with the three rounded shapes of the grille and headlights lacking the vented, chromed embellishment of the A6 G. However, take one step to the side, and the look of the GRZ improves massively, particularly from the front ¾ view. I also like how the side windows and hatch meet at 90 degrees in the rear.

Overall, it’s a look that polarizes – some are drawn to the GSZ’s rounded, cohesive look, while others… not so much. Either way, there’s no question Zagato managed to create something unique, and that counts for something.

Interior

Unfortunately, details on the interior of the GSZ are hard to come by, but considering just how much work went into the custom aluminum bodywork, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s more or less unchanged from the Spyder’s factory spec. That means a two-seater design, with a three-spoke steering wheel, blue and white gauges, and large buttons on the center stack. The transmission tunnel also gets several buttons across the spine. The seats get decent lateral bolsters, while materials include high-end leather upholstery and brushed metal trim. An analog clock is placed between air vents on the central dash.

An upgraded stereo, GPS navigation, rear parking sensors, and heated seats were all available options for the GranSport, and it’s more than likely the GSZ has each equipped.

Of course, given Boffi’s background in furnishing and design, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn the GSZ is decked out with a custom interior. In particular, I’d love to see a new dash that echoes the simplicity of the A6 G, but odds are that’s not the case.

Drivetrain

2007 Maserati GS Zagato
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As previously stated, the GSZ is mechanically identical to the GranSport Spyder. That means it gets a 4.2-liter V-8 engine co-developed with Ferrari, with output rated at 400 horsepower at 7,000 rpm and 333 pound-feet of torque at 4,500 rpm.

Routing the power to the rear wheels is a semi-automatic Cambiocorsa six-speed transmission with paddle shifters, which offers four individual driving modes – Normal, Sport, Auto, and Low Grip. These driving modes also affect the stability control.

Properly motivated, the GSZ should be able to go from standstill to 60 mph in around 4.5 seconds, with a top speed in excess of 180 mph.

Chassis And Handling

2007 Maserati GS Zagato
- image 163633

Keeping the shiny side up is a lightweight suspension set-up, with double wishbones and anti-roll bars both front and back. Maserati also included computer-controlled Skyhook active components. Stopping the machine are large Brembo brakes with four-piston calipers and cross-drilled discs.

However, there are multiple handling features of the GSZ that are unique. First, the wheelbase was reduced by a full 180 mm (7 inches), going from 2,440 mm (96 inches), to 2,260 mm (89 inches). Additionally, the all-aluminum bodywork takes a huge bite out of the car’s curb weight, reducing it from 3,792 pounds, to around 3,400 pounds – a 400-pound loss. Both of these changes pay dividends when it comes to fun in the corners – even though this thing will probably never see a corner in true anger.

Prices

2007 Maserati GS Zagato
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According to Road&Track, Zagato originally anticipated building only nine examples of the GSZ. Why nine? “Because, I just like the number and have decided so,” said Andrea Zagato, CEO of the eponymous company, back in 2007.

Unsurprisingly, pricing for each example was quite expensive. In addition to a Maserati GranSport Spyder (priced at just under $100,000 when new), Zagato asked for a further $475,000 to complete the custom coupe.

Competition

Ferrari 550 Barchetta Pininfarina

2000 - 2001 Ferrari 550 Barchetta
- image 324730

Pininfarina is another big name in the world of Italian coachbuilders, especially when it comes to Ferraris. One modern example is the 550 Barchetta, originally revealed at the 2000 Paris Motor Show. Essentially a roadster variant of the 550 coupe, only 448 Barchettas were produced, each coming equipped with a front-mounted 5.5-liter V-12, and a six-speed manual transmission.

Read the full review here.

Aston Martin Zagato Vanquish Roadster

2005 Aston-Martin Zagato Vanquish Roadster
- image 972

Zagato wasn’t exclusive to Italian makes – it also had a hand in modifying Aston Martins, including the Vanquish. Originally used as a late pre-production prototype, the Zagato’d Vanquish hit the show circuit in 2004 before it went up for auction. Power comes from a 450-horsepower 5.9-liter V-12, with a six-speed manual routing output.

Read the full review here.

Conclusion

2007 Maserati GS Zagato
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At well over half a million dollars, the Maserati GS Zagato is not a car for enthusiasts. Sure, it’s got history and the potential for speed, but at the end of the day, this machine is an investment, destined for a temperature-controlled garage where it will sit and wait for the auction block amongst a collection of equally valuable automobiles.

And if you think about it, that’s a shame. Even if you disagree with the exterior design direction, the car’s low weight and short wheelbase will surely win you over should you have the opportunity to throw it a few corners. But that’s not the point. The GSZ is the kind of car you imagine clipping apexes, even if you happen to own it. The risk of turning it into a very expensive aluminum heap is just too great.

But oh well. In the end, we can still sit back and admire it for what it is – a modern interpretation of the way it used to be.

  • Leave it
    • Mechanically identical to the stock model
    • Outrageously expensive
    • Will probably live in a garage forever
Jonathan Lopez
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