Forgotten concept: 1970 Cadillac NART Zagato
Cadillac tried to rival Ferrari with this car
When you think about Cadillac and Ferrari, it would probably never occur to you to compare them in one sentence. However, there was a little piece of time that witnessed the American luxury brand wanting to compete with the Prancing Horse.
In 1968, General Motors had an idea of creating a sports car to rival the iconic Ferrari. For that mission, they hired Luigi Chinetti, famous Ferrari racing driver and the exclusive Ferrari US distributor between 1947-1970. The result was the very interesting Cadillac NART Zagato, with all three bearers of the name playing a significant role in the project.
General Motors provided the Eldorado’s 472 V8 engine and the Turbo Hydra-Matic transmission and FWD transaxle. The chassis was also from an Eldorado, but the drive unit was mounted in the rear, but reversed for RWD, so that it could resemble more to the European exotics.
The NART part of the name came from Chinetti himself, since he was responsible for engineering the car. He was one of the founders of the North American Racing Team, and the logo combined the Ferrari’s Prancing Horse, Stars and Stripes and NART initials.
And the Zagato part came from the famous Italian coachbuilder that designed and created the car. They have built an all-aluminium coupe with a 2+2 seating arrangement, with ‘Z’ badges highlighted on front fenders and restyled Eldorado hubcaps.
Other components for this car came from other manufacturers: Pontiac donated the taillights of their ‘68 GTO, many European parts were used for the details and seats and, some even say that, the dashboard, steering column and disc brakes came from Oldsmobile Toronado.
The car was presented in 1970, but the problem occurred when GM dropped out of this project due to various delays and economic difficulties. So, not only did GM leave, but so did the hopes for NART Zagato making it into production.
Some orders were taken for the car, but only one was ever made. There were even plans to make a NART Zagato Mk II, which would have a redesigned ‘humpback’ rear. Another plan was to make a breadvan-styled wagon. Unfortunately, neither made it past the drawing board.
The Cadillac NART Zagato remained a one-off. In 1987, it was bought by Melvin A. Olshansky, who purchased it from the Chinetti family directly. He had spent 21 years restoring the car with the help of Mill creek Motors and Upholstery Unlimited. And then, in 2006, the owner decided to sell the car. At an RM Auction, the Cadillac NART Zagato was sold for just $57.750, which for a one-off car is shockingly low.
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