The slogan “The family sedan that wins races" had been coined for the Alfa Romeo 1900. The Giulietta - which made its debut in 1955 - continued this tradition by completely dominating the Tourism catalogue, but there was a gap in the GT category, where the brand did not have a winning car. Carriage-builder and driver Elio Zagato came to the rescue by building the lightweight, aerodynamic, successful Giulietta SZ.
In the late Fifties, Giulietta family was quite numerous, with the sedan, also in sporty T.I. version, and, also with two power levels, the Pininfarina Spider and Spider Veloce convertibles and the Bertone Sprint and Sprint Veloce coupés.
But the Giulietta Sprint Veloce cars were not as successful in the GT class as their T.I. sisters in Tourist class racing: the cars were powerful and reliable, but they were penalised in relation to their competitors above all by their weight. Purely by lucky chance, a Milan driver, Massimo Leto di Priolo, damaged his Giulietta Sprint Speciale in a race and decided to have it rebuilt by carriage-builder Elio Zagato, well known in the racing world for his original, lightweight aluminium bodies which made his creations hard to beat.
Zagato adopted his usual "egg-shaped" lines, rounding the corners to improve the aerodynamics and the result was a winner: Leto di Priolo drove to victory at Monza in the 1956 Coppa Intereuropa in the original Giulietta Sprint Veloce with bodywork by Zagato. Taking note of that result, other gentlemen drivers turned to the Milan carriage-builder, who started to "remodel" the bodies even of new, undamaged Sprint Veloce cars to produce what started to be known as the Giulietta Sprint Zagato.
Alfa Romeo was interested in commissioning Zagato to develop the new sports coupé, but at the same time Bertone insisted his contract should be honoured and came up with a new sheet steel version: however, the very beautiful SS styled by Scaglione was very expensive to produce. By bringing this factor into play, Alfa was able to please everyone: carriage-builders, gentlemen drivers and dealers. It allowed Bertone to build the Sprint Speciale special edition but with steel bodywork, while supplying Zagato with "bare" chassis for a more efficient, less costly transformation process. This enabled Alfa to add two gems to its range: the original Giulietta SS and the race-winning Giulietta SZ.