Wednesday, December 23, 2009

December 2009 Dream Car of the Month - Cizeta V-16T

This month I figured I'd focus on a very rare and obscure supercar from the 90s, the Cizeta V-16T.  I had almost completely forgotten about this amazing car until it showed up in the news earlier this month.  Apparently the car's designer, former Lamborghini engineer, Claudio Zampolli had one of the only ten examples ever built with him here in the U.S. where he now lives.  Unfortunately, he failed to get it approved by the U.S. government and it was seized in California on December 7 because according to ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) officials, "Cars that don't meet U.S. standards are outlawed for a reason.  These vehicles can pose a real threat to public health and safety". Thank God they removed that menace from the streets.  I feel safer now, don't you?  A bit ridiculous, isn't it?  Either way, their intention is to sell the car to the highest bidder outside the U.S.

The history of this car goes back to the mid 1980's when Lamborghini was looking for a replacement for their aging Countach.  Zampolli and Marcello Gandini worked on the design and engineering of the car that would carry the Lamborghini supercar torch for the next several years.  Their design was subsequently rejected by Lamborghini's then parent company Chrysler.  Chrysler believed that the styling was too aggressive and the car would be too expensive to manufacture.  The car that eventually was built, the Diablo, featured some of the styling queues of the original design but in all was very toned down.

After leaving Lamborghini, Zampolli reunited with Gandini to design and build the car they originally envisioned.  A working prototype was ready by 1988, ahead of the Diablo, and a new company Cizeta (Ci-Zeta from the Italian sounding of Claudio Zampolli's initials CZ) was born.  Originally billed as the Cizeta Moroder because of the involvement of composer Giorgio Moroder, who later dropped out of the partnership, the car was eventually sold as the Cizeta V-16T.

The production V-16T featured an amazing transverse mounted (hence the T in the name) V16 engine which was created by grafting two flat plane V8s together.  The transverse layout of the huge engine meant the the Cizeta was wide, very wide.  The two V8s shared a common block and featured gearing between them to send the output to the transaxle.  Power output of the V16 is 540HP/400TQ which is enough to propel the car to 60MPH in about 4 seconds with a top speed exceeding 200MPH.  Body construction was aluminum and the chassis was a tubular and honeycomb construction.

Pricing for the V-16T was around $300,000 when they were introduced for sale in 1991.  Unfortunately for the company the world's economy was on a downturn and they just didn't have the name recognition among the uber rich that companies like Ferrari and Lamborghini have.  Production ended in 1995 with only 10 car being built.

That however is not the end of the story.  Cizeta is still around and they are building cars again.  Zampolli moved himself and his company to California and they have resumed operations on an "on demand" basis.  They even introduced a new model in 2003, the Spyder.  Both models are still powered by the wild V16 and carry even wilder price tags.  For a standard coupe, expect to pay $649,000 while the spyder will run you $849,000.  Don't know how often their site is updated but the Cizeta website is up at  Check it out.

A little extra for you. Here is a video of what is I believe to be the same car that was recently seized by the US Government. Sounds amazing.

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