A quick word on Alfa Romeo TZ replicas.
To start with, we feel that there is nothing wrong with replicating the gorgeous shape and technology of the TZ & TZ2, bar any legal issues that might arise concerning copyright on those particular shapes which is something that is up to the original manufacturer & designer (Alfa Romeo & Zagato) to pursue or not but a good replica is a compliment for the original design.
Problems start to arise when a replica is being passed off as something that it isn't, the real thing, with all financial consequences.
Let's face it, the cost of building a replica of a TZ hardly ever exceeds US$ 100.000 in a time when even a "normal" (but genuine) TZ Stradale without any racing history goes for towards US$ 300.000 and the ones with proven race history for up to double that amount. Genuine TZ-2's start at US$ 1.000.000 and there was only a handful of them ever made.
The prospect of tripling your money and turning US$ 100K relatively easy into US$ 300K (or more) has proven too much of a temptation for some people and as a consequence the flow of "replica's with identity" seems to be almost endless...
In the mean time, one could say that "of the 117 TZ's originally made, 198 survive to this day".
Of course a replica without an "identity" could never be passed off as the real McCoy so counterfeiters look for "lost cars" which are then miraculously resurrected and brought to market.
Now, the "art of carcheology" is not an exact science, the most important part of any of the TZ's history lies more than 40 years behind us and many of the people who were involved are no longer with us or have failing memory due to old age. The modern "carcheologist" has to go with data collected from photographic evidence, old race records, old press reports and sometimes, when lucky, eyewitness reports. This data then has to be analyzed carefully and often conclusions regarding the identity of cars in that data can be drawn but even so often spots on the "history map" of a particular car are left blank. Analyzing the data is often a tedious and time consuming process and it hardly ever results in "hard evidence". Given the lack of such "hard evidence", counterfeiters can range free and make all sorts of claims about the car(s) that they are offering and it is up to a potential buyer to diligently examine a potential car that is being brought to market.
There are also legal consequences to giving a verdict on a car. If a person with authority on the matter judges negatively on the authenticity of a specific car, the market value of it will drop significantly and instantaneously which in some cases translates into a "business loss" and can even give rise to legal cases on the basis of character deformation. "WHAT!?!?!?! Are you calling me a counterfeiter??? I will sue you!"
For this reason almost none of the experts is willing to give a written verdict that a particular car is a replica. Careful now! The fact that nobody writes down that a particular car is a replica... does not automatically make it an original & authentic TZ!
In our register we had the general policy to show each & every car that was being presented with a particular chassis number, including where & when it was offered for sale, photographs etc. Due to the above mentioned, we have now changed that policy into merely mentioning that a car bearing chassis number "xxx" was offered on the market.
To aid the potential buyers of a genuine TZ with establishing what exactly it is what they are being offered, we have compiled a short-list of the regular M.O. of counterfeiters. This list has been based on what we have seen happening in the market in the last 10 years and should be of help to you.
- Before going to inspect an offered car, ask the seller for the chassis number so that you can do your homework.
- Genuine cars get their "identity" from their chassis number and in most cases a seller will already indicate the number when going to market.
- The failure to indicate the chassis number in first instance could be a privacy issue but this is often exploited by counterfeiters for not having to bring out in the open which car it allegedly concerns and so avoid possible public reactions to that. Plain refusal to give the chassis number from a seller is usually a good reason to be extra cautious.
- Same goes for the price. It has been established that certain counterfeiters will not give a price for the car that they are offering unless you are prepared to travel first, inspect the car and then finally you will be told the price. This is also a method to avoid public reactions and should make your careful. Would you travel half way around the globe to inspect a car of which the seller is not willing to tell you the chassis number nor willing to tell you the price?
- Price. All traders, but also private persons, who bring a TZ to market nowadays are very well aware of the value of their car. Especially the internet has made the market more transparent and it is relatively easy to establish the going rate of a TZ. Is a car being offered at a price which is considerably below established market value, then be extra cautious!
- Some cars (usually with high claims to a racing history and chassis number) are being dragged from auction to auction without being sold. This is usually a good indication of what the "TZ crowd" thinks of the claimed authenticity and can be seen as a reason to be extra cautious.
- Counterfeiters often pick chassis numbers of cars that have gone lost in the mists of time. Logical... because if a car has not been seen for 40 years, what would be better than to claim that it was found in a barn where it had been stored for 40 years... saves the hassle of having to dream up a "history" for those 40 years, requires little proof and it is difficult to prove otherwise. So, check the register for the particular chassis number and be cautious for "barn find" TZ's.
- Most of the parts to compile a replica TZ can nowadays be bought "off the shelf" as many of those parts are being reproduced. Thanks to increasing prices, the number of artisans who are able to make a TZ body from scratch has increased over the last decade or so, so it does not required any unique skills to "compile" a replica. It does require special skill to make a "credible replica" though as if there is one thing that is difficult to forge, it is "46 years of patina". A regular M.O. of counterfeiters who are trying to market a barn find replica is to have a body made which is then left out in the open for a couple of years which will make it look like it is 46 years old! It is much more difficult to give the chassis and mechanicals the same treatment so forgeries are often offered "as found but mechanically restored" as that eradicates the need for patina on the mechanicals. Be cautious if you are being offered such a "package" or if an assembled car was offered as such a package in the recent past.
- In the past, Autodelta was very sloppy with their administration and license plates were swapped between cars almost at will in order to be able to ship the cars to races around the globe. This often gives rise to cases of mistaken identity. The license plate of a crashed (and destroyed) TZ-1 was used during 1 race on a TZ-2 and voila! "The TZ-1 was transformed in a TZ-2 by Autodelta". Of course, there was no trace of that "transformed TZ-2" as it never existed, it was merely a license plate swap but it is good enough for some extremely "lucky" seller to discover that "transformed TZ-2" in a barn after 35 years and to bring it to market with patinated body and restored mechanicals. What a lucky guy he is... too bad he won't give a price for the car unless you travel first... Sounds familiar?
- Certain countries have a reputation for being an almost infinite source of previously unknown TZ's... Just keep an eye out for what is being offered over the course of time and you will quickly discover which country is the center in the TZ universe. Then just compare how many cars were originally delivered there (!) and give it some thought on how the hell it is possible that all those cars end up in that tiny country...
- Paperwork. Well, paperwork can just as easily be forged as whole cars so don't automatically assume "old paper" to be genuine...
- Vintage photographs. No matter how nice and interesting vintage photographs are (we personally love them!) they are hardly ever conclusive evidence for the authenticity of a particular car in the "now". We can show you plenty of old photographs of generic looking TZ's and you will see how difficult it is to determine which car it concerns.
- FIA Papers. Yet another preferred M.O. of counterfeiters... Of course the FIA is an institution of high authority but a FIA passport is no certificate of authenticity! The FIA merely checks if the claimed chassis number corresponds with the factory records (which it always does of course...) and if the specification of the presented car matches that of their records (i.e. displacement. drive train lay-out etc). Counterfeiters hope to blind potential buyers with FIA papers as the papers will state that it concerns a TZ but for determining if the offered car is authentic, they hold no value whatsoever.
- Chain of ownership. A good car will have a credible and well documented chain of ownership. Large and / or inexplicable gaps in the ownership chain are reasons to be cautious.
Well, we could go on for hours taking about the counterfeit cars and the Modus Operandi of counterfeiters but our most important advise is "If it looks too good to be true, it usually is..."
Happy TZ hunting!