Ugo Zagato may have never imagined the profound impact he would have on the automotive world when he left his career as a laborer in the aviation industry to form his own business in 1919. As a coachbuilder, Ugo approached the automobile with the intent to integrate the philosophies from his aeronautic work, such as aerodynamics and the utilization of strong, lightweight construction in his designs. Drawing inspiration from aircraft fuselages, Zagato conceived the automobile body as lightweight architecture, creating the shell entirely from sheet aluminum in a period where automobiles were large, bulky and heavy machines. Zagato’s aerodynamic designs caught the attention of Alfa Romeo and their collaboration led to victories in the legendary Mille Miglia, and added momentum behind the Zagato brand. In a time without wind tunnels and computer aided design, Zagato adopted raked windshields, closed headlight designs and convex boot lids to reduce drag. When many vehicles had overly plush interiors, Zagato discarded unnecessary art noveau accoutrements in favor of lightness.
One hundred years later, Ugo’s design philosophy lives on in modern Zagato vehicles through its hallmark design language- tapered lines, flamboyant curves and rounded corners. Aside from a small “Z”badge on the driver and passenger sides, and detailing in the interior, a Zagato bodied car hints at the original manufacturers bodywork, but is distinctively something of their own. Click ahead to view nine incredible Zagato models on offer at RM Sotheby’s: Villa Erba auction, held during the prestigious Concorso D’Eleganza Villa D’Este. –Andrew Miterko