This strange little car was 40 years ahead of its time

The Milan body-building and design workshop, Zagato, has produced countless unique, special, characteristic, even legendary cars in the last century, Alfa Romeos, Aston Martins, BMWs, Fiat, Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Lancias, Maseratics, Porsches, etc. received Zagato treatment.

Less well-known, but all the more interesting, is one of Zagato’s all-in-one models, the Zele 1000, which was decades ahead of its time, as it is clear from the pictures that it is a pretty urban minicar that has also been electric-powered.

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This strange little car was 40 years ahead of its time

The company was seriously preoccupied with the subject of driving in the early ’70s, more specifically urban driving, and even built the urban mini they considered perfect. The base was created by combining the body parts of the Fiat 500 and Fiat 124, and the steel chest was covered with fiberglass.

With no aerodynamics to worry about at a top speed of 40 km / h, the two-seater has got a practical box shape – eerily resembling the smart fortwo figure introduced a quarter of a century later, as do mopeds for this purpose.

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Formally advancing Smart, driving today’s electromobility revolution (Photo: Collecting Cars)

The shape was one thing, the big throw of the Zele 1000 was the drive, as it was driven by an electric motor instead of an internal combustion power source. The 1,000-watt (1 kW / 1.3 hp) Marelli unit was connected to a three-speed semi-automatic transmission and was powered by four in-line 12-volt lead-acid batteries. The range of the construction was 80 km. A separate charging kit was also added to the mini car.

Although 80 km doesn’t sound bad for urban use, so much could really be squeezed out of the system in such little nothing at the time, battery technology is simply not yet ready for universal use, to produce electric cars that meet the needs of the masses. (Not for a very long time, as electromobility has only really started in the last decade.)

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Certainly the most sparse, cheapest Zagato car (Photo: Collecting Cars)

Although the concept foreshadowed the future, no matter how the Zele 1000 could be imagined on today’s roads with a slightly more modern look and feel, it was not possible or successful in the 1970s due to its limitations: between 1974 and ’76 it was made into about 500 copies. and then practically forgotten.

It is not known how many pieces have survived to this day, but the occasional pop-up specimens already have collector value. The illustrations in our article are from a 1976 copy of Rome, which was refurbished two years ago and ran for more than 2,000 km and was offered for sale at Collecting Cars these days, but the auction was unsuccessful and the biggest bid did not reach the desired price.


Source: Vezess by www.vezess.hu.

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