Concepts and prototypes : Zagato Rover 2000 TCZ (1967)

First shown at the 1967 Geneva Motor Show, the Zagato Rover 2000 TCZ offers a fascinating insight into how a sporting P6 might have looked.

This Lancia-looking coupe rather trod on the toes of the in-house ‘Gladys’ design that was being penned within Solihull at the time.


A better Rover P6 Coupe?

Zagato Rover 2000 TCZ (1)

Better known for its work for marques such as Alfa Romeo, Aston Martin, Bristol and Lancia, Zagato only ever produced a handful of prototypes based on BMC/BLMC models.

In 1948, some five years prior to the Austin-Morris merger, it presented the Y-Type saloon-based MG 1500 Panoramica coupé. This was the only MG-based car in the series of Panoramica models which Zagato produced in the late 1940s, the others being based on a variety of models from Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Fiat, Lancia and Maserati.

They were so named because of their oversized glasshouses, achieved by the pioneering use of curved side glass that would become a Zagato hallmark in later years.

During the late 1950s, Zagato also produced a couple of Jaguar prototypes, based on the contemporary XK140 and XK150 respectively.

However, this Zagato-styled concept based on the Rover P6 is probably the most memorable. It was created by Ercole Spada and starred at the Turin Motor Show in 1967 where it was shown alongside some amazing models – which probably explains why the TCZ has never really received the long-term recognition it deserved.

So, it would end up competing for column inches with the Alfa Romeo Tipo 33, the beautiful Fiat Dino Coupe and Lamborghini Marzal. The Pininfarina Aerodynamica 1800 also debuted at the show – the Zagato never really had a chance because its BMC-engined compatriot was such a hit with the showgoers.

The TCZ was never seriously considered for production, but it could have been productionised – it shared much of its interior and its radiator grille and headlights with the standard P6 saloon. Designer David Bache was working on a similar car, in the form of the Rover/Alvis GTS, which gained the nickname ‘Gladys’…

Rover 2000 TCZ in profile
Keith Adams

23 Comments

  1. Al, you don’t suppose that the Japanese (who were buying styling in from everywhere in the 1960s) might have made their cars look like Zagato’s styling (rather than the the other way around). I reminds me of Lancias from the early 1960s when Nissan and Toyota were turning out cars that looked like they had come out of a cereal box.

  2. Not sure about the rear-lights of the Zagato Mini GT Coupe (the rear numberplate placement does not help either), might have looked better had the rear-lights been vertical more in the style of the Broadspeed Mini GT.

  3. Both mini coupe and rover coupe are really nice. I don’t think there was any market for a mini coupe and the profit would have been small, but the Rover would have sold IMO.

  4. While the Rover 2000 TCZ was never considered for production, would some version of it or a regular P6-based 2+2 sport tourer have been a better starting point for some Rover analogue to the Triumph Stag? Particularly when taking into consideration the Stag’s various compromises that a P6-based equivalent would not have necessarily had to deal with.

  5. The Mini looks a little awkward with the rear overhang.

    The Rover 2000 TCZ looks better, but needs better style wheels as the “bin lids” let it down.

  6. I’ve never been a big fan of Zagato products; many are ugly and worse than the model they are based on….but this Rover is really good and should’ve been taken further.

  7. It’s a shame this never made it into the Rover lineup. Probably would have needed to be have been changed for production ie. the door shape. Imagine a V8 powered version. It would have been an Alfa GTV before it arrived on the market.

    • @Rich:

      Yes, this one-off Rover TCZ prototype does still exist and is currently in private ownership in the UK.

  8. What a beautiful, elegant car and oh-so-Italian – far too Italian, really, for a plodding, fuddy-duddy British brand such as Rover. Just run your mind’s eye (and your hands…) along that swooping, waving line from front to rear. Mamma mia…

    You can see where the SD1 got its back end from, though – even if Bache and King wouldn’t have admitted it.

  9. Within the James Taylor book on the P6, it is said the short tail reduced 9-inches off the length of a standard P6 and the sleek body was 5-inches lower, yet width and wheelbase remained the same.

    A combination of reduced size and use of lighter materials also meant the TCZ weighed 440 lbs or 200kg less than a standard 2000TC.

  10. Hmmm. having seen the you tube I’ve fallen out of love with it ! The interior is very cheap and nasty looking and the “boot” is an absolute shambles . Also, it seems to have lost the HS8s in favour of what look like HD6s . Also, what looks like cutting out of the beautiful stainless steel wheel caps leaves it with what looks like a cheap set of Halford’s wheels .

    • I agree that it looks a bit of a ‘work in progress’ inside, but it looks pretty good outside. You’re right though, the boot is a mess. That styling looks remarkably fresh for a 55 year old design although the wheels look more like early Range Rover items to me. I was interested to see what Zagato had done by way of modifying the P6 base unit, particularly with regard to the front suspension. I wonder how much strength was lost from the base unit by removing the roof structure. But an interesting concept, and good to see it has survived in running order.

  11. It is a nice looking car, but it was born to die, as it would have been too expensive to make because the P6 was too expensive to make. Also as Rover could not make enough P6 to meet demand, there was nothing to gain in adding the complexity of a coupe to the production line.

  12. A nice car, but Rover wasn’t a producer of sports coupes and this would have overlapped with Triumph if the prototype made it into production and would probably have lost money as sales would have been low.

  13. This absolutely should have been Rovers next design step, amazingly you can also imagine this transforming into the SD1 some years later while this one still has a P6 feel..
    WHAT a missed opportunity.

  14. I’ve sat in this car and had a bit of a poke around underneath at the NEC just after its major restoration a few years ago. I was told the instrumentation came from a Humber and the seats are Lancia. Much of the rest of the dashboard is clearly modified P6. I was told it has a P6 bulkhead and floorpan, but much of the base unit had been hacked away crudely with shears and cold chisels. The body is a (modified?) Lancia Fulvia Zagato shell dropped on top, with new panels etc to achieve the final look. It was described by the firm who restored it as a right lash up underneath.

    I have heard a story on reasonable authority that the car was being eyed up by E-On productions for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (originally slated for 1967 release), but due to some production issues the film was deferred to 1969 and You Only Live Twice brought forward instead. As all Bond fans will know, a prototype DHC Toyota 2000GT was used for that film due to location shooting in Japan, and so the TCZ (so the story goes) missed its chance to become a Bond car.
    This doesn’t completely add-up with the filming dates of the film (July ’66 – March 67), as the car was not unveiled until the March of ’67, and I understand E-On always used multiple cars for filming, which wouldn’t be possible with a one-off. But like all myths there may be a grain of truth in it somewhere. Perhaps it was being considered for a brief appearance, like the early Stag used by Bond to arrive in Amsterdam in Diamonds Are Forever.

  15. Saw this good-looking coupe in the visitors’ car park at the Hampton Court Concours a couple of weeks ago – completely new to me, so reading this background has filled in some knowledge gaps! I liked it, and agree with those who think it a pity it didn’t get developed further for production.

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