Home » This Stunning Zagato-Bodied Porsche 356 Is A Forgotten Sketch Come To Life

This Stunning Zagato-Bodied Porsche 356 Is A Forgotten Sketch Come To Life

Zagato Lost And Found Toronto Ts
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It’s amazing what can hide in miscellaneous boxes and drawers. Old mobile phones, parts you forgot you bought, Christmas cards you didn’t expect to hold onto, that sort of stuff. However, that’s not the sort of stuff that gets lost at Zagato. A forgotten design from 1959 is back in limited production, and it makes the already pretty Porsche 356 even more beautiful. While it’s unlikely any of us will spot one of these “Sanction Lost” coupes in the wild, the Toronto Auto Show gives us a chance to gaze upon some breathtaking sheetmetal.

You might be familiar with Italian coachbuilder Zagato because of their reputation for building some of the most striking and some of the most controversial cars of the past 100 years. The Cadillac Eldorado NART is drop-dead perfection. The Zagato Maserati Mostro is an acquired taste. While Zagato has coachbuilt Porsches before, a coupe based on the 356 was lost to time, until late sketches were dug up on accident while sifting through the archives.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

The original sketches aren’t quite like the model exhibited at the Toronto Auto Show, in that they had tail fins that placed them firmly in the 1950s. The jet age was ripe with experimentation, and some trends have aged better than others. However, with the fins stripped away, the result is a shrink-wrapped 356 coupe, a lower and sleeker interpretation of Porsche’s first mass-produced sports car.

Porsche 356 Zagato

It starts with fared-in eyes and a bumperless nose closer to a Porsche 718 RSK than a 356. However, unlike that in-house racecar, the Zagato “Sanction Lost” keeps roots in the familiar with a pair of chrome bumper grilles and a ridge up the frunk lid quietly letting you know this is still something you’re familiar with. Off the bat, this thing feels dainty without being dowdy, like a crystal teacup or silver lace.

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Porsche 356 Zagato Sanction Lost

Move to a rear three-quarter view, and the dainty face gives way to pure grace. Voluptuous haunches and a greenhouse silhouette that almost feels modern feel powerful, even if the flat-four under the vented and grilled engine cover doesn’t make headline-grabbing power. At the same time, the cocktail stick-thin door handles and compact-sized mirror remind you that Zagato has made a pocket-sized car, a ’50s GT shrunk down to fit on your desk. I particularly adore the minute externally-mounted mufflers, as if there just wasn’t quite enough space to fit them under this tiny Zagato shell.

Porsche 356 Zagato Sanction Lost

In creating the “Sanction Lost” 356, Zagato has made a pretty car even prettier roughly 60 years later. It’s quite the lead time to execution, but the results seem absolutely worth it. Granted, as building a new body for an already collectible Porsche falls into a DeMuro-tier tax bracket, Zagato is only building nine of these coupes, all from existing 356s. One thing’s for certain — each of those nine people is extraordinarily lucky indeed.

Porsche 356 Zagato Sanction Lost

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(Photo credits: Thomas Hundal)

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Auto Peon
Auto Peon
1 month ago

Is that Spike Feresten and Paul Zuckerburg’s car?

Andrew Wyman
Andrew Wyman
1 month ago

That back end is my favorite part! In all it looks beautiful, but that changed rear end is perfect.

I hope that some kit builders will get this shell out there.

OptionXIII
OptionXIII
1 month ago

It is truly beautiful, it just seems odd to me that a coachbuilder will build a new bodyshell from scratch, but a new floorpan isn’t planned to be made instead of cannibalizing nine other cars. Hopefully they will be ones in need of restoration rather than good examples.

SlowCarFast
SlowCarFast
1 month ago

Is this car a runner? Because it looks like your basic auto show display car, which is highly unlikely to ever see the road. The article says they are going to sell nine of these, but I don’t even see any seats in there.

Yes, it looks nice. Whenever design a car without bumpers in mind, you already have a leg-up on the production models. I’m also skeptical as to whether they didn’t modernize the original design. Drawings are only meant to be approximate, after all.

I guess I’m a tough customer today. I’m unimpressed. I’d take a regular 356 and remove the bumpers before I’d sink any money into this.

Gerontius Garland
Gerontius Garland
1 month ago

Build it with the fins, you cowards.

I really don’t get how they’re building a 60 year old design on a 60 year old chassis, but think tail fins are “too dated.” Being dated is literally the point here!

Rafael
Rafael
1 month ago

Almost perfect, save for the engine lid. Vents and a grill feels like wearing a belt and suspenders.

Alan Christensen
Alan Christensen
1 month ago
Reply to  Rafael

And the louvers appear to be flat on a curved surface.

SK2807
SK2807
1 month ago

So Zagato found lost designs, decided to build a car based on them, but then ignored the designs and built a Ferrari-ish looking whatever they wanted.

Nice kit car, shame nine 356’s had to die for it to happen.

Christo Arvanitis
Christo Arvanitis
1 month ago
Reply to  SK2807

My thoughts exactly. Killing nine 356s is criminal IMHO.

Last edited 1 month ago by Christo Arvanitis
Jakob K's Garage
Jakob K's Garage
1 month ago

Too much going on in the rear with the high hips, soft wings and the 4 vents with the strange hatch in the middle. Rear lights also pretty bad.
Front end looks cute though.

EXL500
EXL500
1 month ago

I’d like to see it with the fins. See 1956 Ferrari 410 Superfast.

Lizardman in a human suit
Lizardman in a human suit
1 month ago
Reply to  EXL500
Josh Turner
Josh Turner
1 month ago

Holy crap, no kidding. The fins make it.

Joshua Christian
Joshua Christian
1 month ago

Oh wow

Toecutter
Toecutter
1 month ago
Reply to  EXL500

A single dorsal ridge in the back would do it right. Think Mercedes C111-III streamliner. Alternatively, twin fins ala 1967 Panhard CD Peugeot 66C LeMans race car could work. They can work to add stability at high speed when properly implemented.

If you want some REALLY far out fins that were also functional, check out the 1953 Alfa Romeo BAT7.

EXL500
EXL500
1 month ago
Reply to  Toecutter

I was lucky enough to see all three BATs together in Nashville several years ago. Very dramatic! The show was called Bellisima!

Slirt
Slirt
1 month ago

Spike Fersesten has one of the nine, and iirc co-owns/shares it with his podcast co-host Paul Zuckerman.

Larry B
Larry B
1 month ago
Reply to  Slirt

Do you think he’d let me borrow it if I promised to bring it back with a full tank?

Chronometric
Chronometric
1 month ago

The rear engine vents need some vertical chrome slats. Otherwise, chef’s kiss.

Ron888
Ron888
1 month ago

Not bad.Not bad at all!

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
1 month ago

Nice.

Now make it in fiberglass on a VW pan.

Toecutter
Toecutter
1 month ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

They won’t ever do that. These companies almost universally believe that beautiful cars with high performance should command high prices to filter out the common person and appeal to rich people who pursue exclusivity. There is nothing in science/engineering that forces this, it’s all top-down decisions and marketing.

If I were a billionaire, I’d build a reliable/efficient sub-$20k supercar for the masses(maybe a sub-$10k one in overseas markets where safety regulations aren’t as strict), and the auto industry would be PISSED.

There’s lots of reasons they don’t ever want that genie out of the bottle.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
1 month ago
Reply to  Toecutter

Well it doesn’t take a billionaire to procure a VW pan and the know how to work fiberglass. There are plenty of non-billionares who can make a close enough knock off of this with *just* enough differences to keep the lawyers away.

Toecutter
Toecutter
1 month ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

It does take a billionaire to mass produce a car and get it through government regulations/testing within the current legal a nd regulatory framework. I wasn’t referring to a kit with my above comment, but a fully-assembled ready-to-drive car. Mass production is currently a non-negotiable requirement to get the cost down to something which common people could afford.

A person of modest means and no garage simply won’t have the space to put such a thing together, let alone the money for the tools required or the spare time to do so(working 2 jobs and living paycheck to paycheck with no spare money for fun things after rent/utilities are paid is very common in the US). The closest one might get is building a glorified ebike/microcar thing in the kitchen of an apartment as I did, but that isn’t quite on the same level.

Someone working in a garage hand-building each example of such a 2-seater will make the cost quickly approach the 6-figures, even if it’s a fiberglass body on a VW pan, just from the labor involved. People of modest means won’t ever be able to afford that. Regarding the labor, I speak from experience. I and a friend have over 1,000 manhours invested in a custom-built three wheeler and it still isn’t finished. And this thing has ben in the works since 2018.

I also think people of modest means SHOULD be able to aspire toward and earn for themselves very nice things WHILE THEY ARE STILL YOUNG, which runs counter to the dominant ethos of those who have the money and political power in this society. If someone mass-produced a sub-$20k street legal mid-engine RWD lightweight streamliner of a sports car that got 80+ mpg and could compete with a $1-million+ supercar on a racetrack right off the lot, everything would be done to use government to remove it from the market and ruin whoever was involved getting it out. Such a vehicle is very possible and plausible, but the people who control the means of production will never build it, because they can sell you a gussied-up hand-built, fully-featured, power-everything, oversized, overweight, over-stylized version of the same thing getting 20 mpg for a 7-figure price tag, and would rather the plebes buy a high-margined crossover instead.

If you want fun, the captains of industry have agreed that you should PAY dearly for it, and if you can’t afford it, do without, and this is exemplified very well in the entirety of the vehicle lineup of manufacturers currently selling in the USA. It’s a total crap philosophy, but that is where we are today, and one of many reasons I despise the modern auto industry(even if I love cars).

I’m looking forward to technology eventually allowing widespread proliferation of inexpensive large 3D printers, and microfactories springing up everywhere to upend the Capitalist class. The trick will be to keep the established institutions from using government to put a stop to it, because they will do everything they can to keep their gravy train rolling in at everyone else’s expense. They’re scrambling to do this with AI as we speak so they can get a lockdown on what kinds of custom art will be enabled by it and monetize it in ways that will keep the plebes from competing with them.

Last edited 1 month ago by Toecutter
Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
1 month ago
Reply to  Toecutter

It does take a billionaire to mass produce a car and get it through government regulations/testing within the current legal and regulatory framework.

Yes it does. This is not such a car though. Zagato is only making 9 of these things using existing 60+ yo cars. This is a factory kit car for billionares

Such a vehicle is very possible and plausible, but the people who control the means of production will never build it, because they can sell you a gussied-up hand-built, fully-featured, power-everything, oversized, overweight, over-stylized version of the same thing getting 20 mpg for a 7-figure price tag, and would rather the plebes buy a high-margined crossover instead.

Gussied-up hand-built, fully-featured, power-everything, oversized, overweight, over-stylized versions are available sure but there are also replicas not too far off the originals. You can buy a 550 spyder based on a VW bug chassis, a Lancia Stratos, Shelby Cobra, Ford GT 40 (not the factory one) Lotus 7 and more.

If you want fun, the captains of industry have agreed that you should PAY dearly for it, and if you can’t afford it, do without, and this is exemplified very well in the entirety of the vehicle lineup of manufacturers currently selling in the USA.

Not necessarily. LS swaps into small, lightweight cars are common enough one can buy kits. That’s a great way to go fast on the cheap.

A LS swapped E30 would be a lot less money than an original E30 M3 with over twice the power, cheaper and more reliable to boot. You can also get it in a 4 door or wagon, something not possible with the original. Or do the same with a MX-5.

Or as you mentioned a few weeks ago someone looking to go fast on a vintage budget can also throw a DC3 generator and some batteries into a scrapyard Datsun 1200.

Or say fuck it and buy a Corvette/Mustang/Camero/Charger.

Arthur Flax
Arthur Flax
1 month ago
Reply to  Toecutter

If I controlled the means of production and could “mass-produce a sub-$20k street legal mid-engine RWD lightweight streamliner of a sports car that got 80+ mpg and could compete with a $1-million+ supercar on a racetrack right off the lot,” I would sell it for $999,000 or for $2 million because it would be exclusive and I wouldn’t build many. Then I would profit massively because it didn’t cost much to build….In my capitalist dreams.

And if I were the government, I sure wouldn’t mandate the means of production to sell 18 grand (cost) supercars for $19,000, because no one benefits. Least of all the government, which would be pouring tax dollars down the drain. Also, working folks generally need more than two cramped seats to haul the groceries, kids and dogs. I don’t think I’d vote for a Congressperson who mandated that we all buy $19,000 supercars.

Enough of the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, even though it’s a fun topic.

The Zagato costs scads not because it’s a supercar, but because it’s an art car. For $100,000 or maybe two, you could likely copy it with a couple Art Center students and rental on a five axis CNC foam cutter machine. Pay some fabricators or do it yourself and throw your home built auto body on an appropriate aftermarket kit car chassis.

But it still wouldn’t be a Zagato.

Young people aren’t missing out on nice things because they can’t afford a Zagato. Mr. Market offers all sorts of nice automotive things for hard working young folks, from the Miata and BRZ to the Corvette to name three. No one is entitled to a Zagato, Ferrari or Aston Martin to name three favorites of the bourgeoise.

Toecutter
Toecutter
1 month ago
Reply to  Arthur Flax

When I was a hard working young man making more than most of the population, something along the lines of a new Miata, BRZ, or Corvette was all a distant dream. Even most middle aged people who have established themselves would be hard-pressed to afford cars like these. I had student loans to get rid of, and I was living in the ghetto, riding bicycles everywhere, had a $1,200 clunker for long trips, rarely ate out or did anything fun, and was sharing space with roommates, to do it. I was barely able to scrape enough up to make piecemeal progress on my own project car that I started as a teenager, over decades. I MIGHT have been able to buy such a car if I went into a bunch of debt, but given what happened in my life I’d have lost it multiple times over. MOST people my age were doing worse than me, albeit a lot of them used additional debt and lived paycheck to paycheck to pretend otherwise. I’m much better off today because I avoided that trap, while most of my peers are probably never going to get to retire when they’re old or ever really own much of anything.

Young people are LUCKY if they can afford to keep a $5,000 clunker on the road. Usually, it’s mommy and daddy helping them out. The ones that go into debt to buy something new, are almost exclusively looking at the very bottom of the market, and/or come from an upper-middle-class background on up and are getting help, and/or were among the lucky few to get a good paying job.

I get that the Zagato is a limited production art car. The complaint is that everything resembling it is a rich person’s toy, precisely because so few are produced.

What would the market be for a similar car with lots of power shoved in it if it were mass produced in a way that could command a Mitsubishi Mirage price tag? Do you really think a car that could do 0-60 mph like a Hellcat, top 180+ mph, and get fuel economy like a 1st gen Honda Insight and still sell for a narrow profit under $20k, would only sell a small handful? I think a lot of people would take notice, even if the thing lacked air conditioning, power-everything, infotainment, ect. and the market would shift. Nothing like it exists at this time, and it would create its own niche. The closest analogue might be the little British cars of the mid 20th century, and they sold extremely well.

I’m working on trying to get means of production for myself, even if it will be on a small scale and not appropriate for mass production of something. I’d love to at least produce a prototype low-volume car and possibly sell them. But given that I will likely never have the ability to mass produce, it will probably be expensive just because of the labor involved. Economies of scale are what makes automobile ownership of the masses even possible in the first place. Henry Ford never would have been able to do what he did if he had to deal with today’s regulatory climate.

Last edited 1 month ago by Toecutter
Arthur Flax
Arthur Flax
1 month ago
Reply to  Toecutter

I wish you well. Life is a struggle, no matter when you were lucky or unlucky enough to be born. Life wouldn’t be fun otherwise.

Regarding your prototype: Every time I go to the Carlisle swap meet I see several manufacturers selling chassis for roadsters/sports car bodies, etc. Perhaps you want to proceed on your own, but if I were going to build a one off, I’d look at one of these as a starting point.

Also, I once built a Factory Five roadster for someone other than myself. It was a basic and fun car and it seems Factory Five sells a ton of them for a reasonable price. People who assemble them sell them for quite a bit now. I was ahead of the curve, doing the assembly as a favor for a relative so my profit was minimal, though I enjoyed the experience.

Toecutter
Toecutter
1 month ago
Reply to  Arthur Flax

I’m aware of Factory Five, GTM, and other kit car manufacturers. Working class people for the most part will never have the space and tools needed to put one of these together, which combined can cost multiples of what the kit car will cost, let alone the spare time. That is why having these sorts of cars available for cheap as turn key is important, otherwise something that is affordable to someone with the work space, tools, and even spare time, isn’t at all affordable to most people even if they might have the money to purchase the kit.

The custom chassis I’ve helped work on is a lightweight electric 3-wheeler intended to use e-bike parts and only seats one. There is no analogue to it on today’s market. The goal is to keep the completed car under 400 lbs and give it slippery aerodynamics. It is from there that it will hopefully get the acceleration of a supercar and running costs closer to those of a moped than an actual car, by keeping the cost of the components down, energy consumption down, and by not needing much power to go fast.

I also have an actual e-trike that I built into a sort of microcar, and it’s being upgraded to AWD. The goal is to be able to run sub-12-second 1/4 miles with about 25 kW on tap. This vehicle is light enough to turn the electric assist off and pedal it like a bicycle(91 lbs), and thanks to the aerodynamic body on it, it can be pedaled to faster-than-bicycle speeds with the electric drive system disabled, and a fit rider can sustain those speeds. I currently have it apart again, working on fabricating new spindles and adaptors so that the front motors will fit. This will be refined into a chassis that can accommodate building up anything from a purely pedal-powered velomobile, all the way up to a one-seater racecar with no bicycle drivetrain, and anything in between(such as a 750W/28 mph Class 3 e-bike).

Last edited 1 month ago by Toecutter
Andy Individual
Andy Individual
1 month ago

Thanks for this palet cleanser. I’ve seen enough ugliness today. I needed this.

Handlebar
Handlebar
1 month ago

Wife: Where is the Porsche logo on the hood? It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that schwing!

Me (realizing I married even further up than I realized): (drooling quietly, figuring how to get one, with a logo)… yes, dear….

Dudeoutwest
Dudeoutwest
1 month ago
Reply to  Handlebar

I swear my wife would smother me in my sleep for a 356, especially this one. We saw an Abarth one at Luftgekuhlt

Last edited 1 month ago by Dudeoutwest
ProudLuddite
ProudLuddite
1 month ago

That thing is just gorgeous, and I bet it would be a hoot to drive with so little weight over the front wheels.

Ricardo Mercio
Ricardo Mercio
1 month ago

This may be the only time Zagato actually made a car look better!

Carlos Ferreira
Carlos Ferreira
1 month ago
Reply to  Ricardo Mercio

Damn son, you need to educate yourself.

Ricardo Mercio
Ricardo Mercio
1 month ago

Damn father, you need to ease up on the condescending tone and list some decent Zagato designs, this ain’t the YouTube comments.

Captain Woof
Captain Woof
1 month ago
Reply to  Ricardo Mercio

Damn boy, here are a few of my favourites… I like the 50s and 60s looks best, but they made some great concepts in the 70s too
1956 Ferrari 250 GT Zagato
1958 Lancia Flaminia Sport Zagato
1960 Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato
1961 Bristol 407 Zagato
1964 Alfa Romeo Giulia TZ-2
1965 Lamborghini 3500 GTZ

Ricardo Mercio
Ricardo Mercio
1 month ago
Reply to  Captain Woof

I’ll definitely give you the Bristol, though I suspect it’s because the base car just isn’t as attractive as the others.

In my opinion, the rest of the list are somewhat lateral moves compared to the car they’re based on, considering the change of category for the Flaminia and TZ-2 (both turn practical 3-box sedans into fastback coupes). The cars you listed are certainly beautiful, but they started with beautiful cars in the first place.

I’ve always been partial to Bertone and Pininfarina, who designed the standard version of many of these to be equally beautiful while retaining practicality and brand distinction. Maybe Zagato is hamstrung by having to work around another design house’s hard points so often, but I’m just not a fan because they never seem to care about hard points of identity. Constraints are a challenge to take on and often give different cars distinct lines, but Zagato just ignores them.

I find that most of their conversions make cars look more expensive without making them look necessarily prettier or more refined, often ignoring a brand’s identity in the process. For example, the Flaminia, Bristol and Lamborghini, while beautiful, just look like Ferraris, which isn’t a bad thing, but I want my Lancia to look like a Lancia, not just have a trapeze grille over a Ferrari-ish body.

Pininfarina, meanwhile, made the base Flaminia a very attractive luxury sedan with a form that matched its function, while Bertone made the Giulia one of the most beautiful cars ever with a 3-box design and a gentle touch. The TZ-2 served a purpose, Alfa Romeo needed a superlight 2-seat version of the Giulia to go racing with, and I won’t deny that Zagato delivered on that, but I’d hesitate to call it a Giulia, it’s really a brand-new vehicle on a shared platform.

I appreciate the existence of Zagato for their weird, experimental designs like the (quite ugly) SZ/RZ because they make the world a more interesting place, but to me that’s about all they offer. So I’ll reiterate, there’s no Bertone/Pininfarina/Ghia/Scaglione car with an alternate Zagato variant that I want more than the base car.

I respect your love of Zagato, they’re just not my cup of tea.

Rad Barchetta
Rad Barchetta
2 months ago

Ah, Porsche + Zagato = Spectacular!

How could anything bad happen when the Germans and Italians get together?

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
1 month ago
Reply to  Rad Barchetta

You’ll find out when you get the bill. Don’t worry, it won’t take long.

Toecutter
Toecutter
2 months ago

Beautiful and aerodynamically slippery. Just the way I like them. There is no modern sports car that will best this from both a mass and CdA standpoint, more than half a century later. This is also very similar to the even more rare 550 Coupe.

If Porsche wants to make a new Boxster EV, something like this would be an excellent starting point. Less batteries required for a given range means you can cut the weight of the battery pack down.

An inexpensive sub-3,000 lb EV sports car with a 200+ mile range is NOT rocket science, but to this day no one is willing to go there. Why?

Derek van Veen
Derek van Veen
2 months ago

Would love to get one sans engine / transmission and unleash Rod Emory on it (for drivetrain only).

Last edited 2 months ago by Derek van Veen
ADDvanced
ADDvanced
2 months ago

Front end gives me Porsche 904 vibes, but “cute”.

Rear looks a bit awkward; like it had a nice form and got rear ended, but the surfaces stayed smooth, if that makes sense.

MATTinMKE
MATTinMKE
2 months ago

Lovely. Just lovely.

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