Presented in the Alfa Romeo stand at the 1989 Geneva Motor Show, the SZ was designed to amaze the public with its aggressive sporty profile, marked by low ground clearance, a high beltline and a wedge shape that conveyed grit and speed.
It was the result of the ambitious project called ES30 (for "Experimental Sportcar 3.0 litre"), an attempt by Alfa Romeo to reaffirm its tradition as a manufacturer of rear-wheel drive sports cars, but using new technology. The production of 1000 units was also commissioned to coachbuilder Zagato.
Besides its innovative composite fibre bodywork, the car was the first in the industry to be produced using computer-aided design and manufacturing (CAD/CAM) systems. The unprecedented use of this technology significantly reduced design lead times and, most importantly, the need for refinements and modifications during production.
The heart of the SZ was its impressive V6 “Busso” engine (named after the designer), which equipped the 75 3.0i Quadrifoglio Verde in 1987. It incorporated electronic injection and a three-way catalytic converter, delivering 185 hp and up to 204 hp in the SZ version. The mechanics also included a 5-speed rear axle gearbox integrated with the differential, as well as suspension and brakes lifted from the 75 1.8 Turbo Evolution competition car. The chassis consisted of a steel underbody covered by a modern, composite-fibre bodyshell.