GM's Forgotten Mid-Engined Zagato Cadillac Is Amazing

Illustration for article titled GMs Forgotten Mid-Engined Zagato Cadillac Is Amazing

The NART Cadillac Zagato was the most awesome Eldorado Mark VII ever built. Here's what happened.

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Luigi Chinetti was a successful racing driver of Le Mans pedigree. He was also the exclusive Ferrari distributor in North America from 1947 to 1970, the year when this strange Cadillac first fired up its 400 horsepower engine.

By 1968, shadows of possible emissions regulations started to eclipse imported exotica. At the same time, there were many wealthy costumers looking for unique rides, and Chinetti wanted to use that money to create something special. He turned to General Motors, who liked the idea, but only had this to offer in '68, the Mark VII Cadillac Eldorado:

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Illustration for article titled GMs Forgotten Mid-Engined Zagato Cadillac Is Amazing

The work started in 1969 with GM providing the drivetrain. Using a modified Eldorado chassis, the 500 cubic inch V8 was moved to the rear, creating a mid-engined, rear-wheel drive car with a four-speed automatic transmission, a four-wheel independent suspension with torsion bars and disc brakes in all corners.

It is claimed that the body was designed by Luigi Chinetti, Jr, who employed an Art Center graduate to convert the layout and his concept drawings into full size elevations. What's for sure is that the full sized clay model was finished at GM's studio.

The project then landed at Zagato, who built the final product out of aluminum, with the interior being made out of a narrowed Cadillac dashboard, some European bits, and all the luxury equipment available at the time, including power windows, climate control and an AM-FM signal seeking stereo.

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Illustration for article titled GMs Forgotten Mid-Engined Zagato Cadillac Is Amazing

The rear lights came straight off a '68 '66 Pontiac GTO.

But by the time it was finished, GM lost interest due to numerous delays and economic difficulties, leaving no chance for the luxury coupe to become a production vehicle. In 1971, the prototype was displayed at Zagato's stand at the Turin Motor show, just like a few month later at the Chinetti Motors’ stand at the New York International Automobile Show.

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Illustration for article titled GMs Forgotten Mid-Engined Zagato Cadillac Is Amazing
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Serial number 001. The next time Cadillac made a mid-engined car, GM got greedy.

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Photo credit: That Hartford Guy, RM Auctions

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DISCUSSION

J-WalterWeatherman
J. Walter Weatherman

Good god that is ugly. The up-turned ass just makes it look like it was rear-ended. The car also looks almost as if it is sagging in the middle, too. It is sad that us Americans could never really get into the mid-engined game, but this car would not have been our path to success.

For those who found this as ugly as I did, here, have a more successful iteration of an Italian-bodied GM as a palate cleanser: