Alfa Romeo SZ & RZ

Alfa Romeo SZ The Geneva Motorshow in 1989 saw the appearance of a new and controversially styled Alfa Romeo, the SZ (or ES30). Designed in-house by Alfa Romeo, it was effectively a heavily tuned 75 chassis and mechanicals with a new bodyshell. Production was carried out by Zagato, where 1000 cars were built. The RZ (a cabriolet) was a pure Zagato project, and only about 241 examples were produced. The latter shared few panels with the SZ and was some 100kgs heavier due to the strengthening required.

The 3 litre (2959cc) V6 engine from the 75 was tuned to give a total of 210bhp whilst the suspension was modified to cope with the extra performance. The torsion bars were replaced by coil over units, and uniball joints replaced all the rubber. A hydraulic system which can be controlled from the cockpit can vary the ride height of the car (supposedly included to aid the crossing of speed-bumps and the like). The brakes were also taken from the 75, from the Turbo Evoluzione model. Other mechanical parts such as the final drive were modified 75 items.

The bodywork was developed extensively in the windtunnel, with a final drag coefficient of 0.30 as well as very low lift. All the body panels were made (using injection moulding) from a composite material ('Modar' resin plus glass fibre) with the exception of the roof (which was aluminium) and the tailgate spoiler (which was carbon fibre). These panels were then bonded to the steel structure which retained the 75 wheelbase.

Technical Details
Driveline longitudinal engine at front with rear wheel drive
Engine 2959cc (93x72.6mm) sohc (per bank) V6 with 210bhp @ 6,200rpm
Suspension  front : double wishbone with coil springs and telescopic dampers plus anti-roll bar
rear : de Dion with transverse link, coil springs and telescopic dampers plus anti-roll bar
Ground clearance adjustable by 40mm
wheelbase : 2510mm
track (front/rear) : 1464mm/1426mm
Brakes front : ventilated discs, diameter 284mm
rear : ventilated discs, diameter 250mm
rear load proportioning valve
handbrake operating on the rear via cable
dual hydraulic circuit with servo assistance
Gearbox 5 speed manual
hydraulically operated single plate clutch (diameter 215mm)
Steering Rack and pinion with speed sensitive hydraulic power assistance
3.2 turns lock to lock
Wheels front : 7Jx16 (205/55 ZR16 tyres)
rear : 8Jx16 (225/50 ZR16 tryes)
Kerb weight SZ : 1260kg (56% front, 44% rear)

Alfa Romeo SZ chassis and drivetrain

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Alfa Romeo SZ Performance
model max speed 0-100km/h standing km
SZ 245 km/h 7.0 sec 27.4 sec


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See the 75 page for ideas.....

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Buying / Selling

Check the chassis number and identification carefully for authenticity. These are collectors cars and so even any minor detail changes from the standard will probably affect the value of the car.

Check the bodywork. Check that there are no mismatching panels, large areas of discolouration or signs of fresh paint (compare Alfa Romeo SZ cockpitinside the engine bay with the external body colour), all of which probably indicate accident damage.

Check the main electrical functions - wipers, windows, lights, etc... try putting the main beam and wipers on at the same time. Check the headlights for cracks and ensure that the air conditioning system is functioning correctly.

Check the brake pedal does not go to the floor if pressed hard for a long time and if possible check the brake discs for wear (through the wheels at the front). Check the gearchange for clean engagement, the gear linkage can become sloppy when worn, but these can be replaced.

The engine should be run up to temperature, check the exhaust for smoke, the condition of the breather (look for mayonaise), the condition of the oil filler cap (again white deposits can indicate head gasket or other serious problems) and the colour of the coolant (preferably not thick or dark brown!). Check the oil pressure, it should be around 3.5 bar when driving and not drop below 0.5 bar at idle.Listen to the noise of the engine, then depress the clutch and engage first gear. Whatever noise has disappeared was coming from the gearbox, what remains is from the engine. Also check the condition of the engine oil on the dipstick.The lighter brown the better, if it is thick black then leave quickly.

Alfa Romeo SZ Try to find out when the timing belts were last changed. If not recently then have them changed - the official interval is 48,000 miles.

Check tyre wear, uneven patterns could imply a bent chassis.

Always take it for a test drive. Check that the car tracks in a straight line with no steering input and also remains straight under braking. Find a large open area and complete several lock to lock turns (also in reverse), listening for any noises. Try the handbrake when moving - seized rear callipers will mean uneven braking or no braking.

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An informative SZ website

For books on Alfa Romeo see our Online Bookstore

There is also a list of all our picture galleries (including museums, motorshows and various events).

Wallpapers/Desktop Backgrounds of numerous Alfa Romeo's, including the SZ, are available to download.

Alfa Romeo SZ and RZ SZ & RZ comment form

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Your Comments

My uncle had a Alfa Romeo-car dealership in the Netherlands, He had an RZ, one exatly like the picture above. He sold it for good money, but boy after one quicke spin around the block, it became one of my favourites. The look on the faces on spectators, it's undescribable.

Alfa Romeo SZ & RZ

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