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A “daily classic” for Gordon Murray, Alfa Romeo Junior Z Alphaholics

Thanks to his achievements in F1 Gordon Murray is one of the most respected engineers today. In addition, in his day to day he follows the same principles that guide him on the court. Proof of this is its “daily classic” Alfa Romeo Junior Z.

In the late XNUMXs, Gordon Murray had just completed his mechanical engineering degree after attending Durban's Natal Technical College. Thus, his first steps in his competition took place just at that time when the so-called IGM-Ford was released. Very similar to the Lotus Seven, in this vehicle there was already a sincere concern for the weight / power ratio or the effectiveness of a center of gravity as low as possible.

With all this, it is not surprising that this young graduate moved to England with the hope of being an employee under the orders of Colin Chapman. However, luck made him fall on Brabham. Created by Jack Brabham in 1960 after his success aboard the revolutionary Cooper T51 With a central-rear engine, this team was called to lead the consolidation of British engineering in F1.

What's more, his way of conceiving automotive design started from the same assumptions interpreted by Lotus, Cooper and later McLaren. In other words, anticipating the potential of Italian mechanics based on innovative and efficient work in terms of weight, chassis and aerodynamics.

At this point, Gordon Murray married that environment from the outset, thus initiating one of the most brilliant careers in the entire history of the premier class. For a start, his creativity can be seen in approaches as daring as that of the BT46B. Characterized by its huge rear fan, here the reduction of air in the underbody of the car was carried to the last consequences in order to increase adherence to the ground.

Likewise, thanks to the piloting of Nelson Piquet, their BT49 and BT52 managed to reach the top of F1. After this, his time at McLaren had a magnificent result when he intervened in the tuning of the MP4 / 2. One of the key single-seaters in the careers of Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost. Harvesting 15 of the 16 GPs held in the 1988 season. And boy, as if all this were not enough, Gordon Murray can also be tracked off the track with production cars like the McLaren F1.

In short, one of the most exciting biographies in relation to competition designs. Now, having said this, it is logical to be assailed by a somewhat frivolous question: what model is used on a day-to-day basis by someone like that? well in this sense the truth is that the answer is plural. What's more, in various interviews with the British media, Gordon Murray shows that he knows how to choose the right model for each situation.

However, the truth is that in his personal collection the vehicles defined by light weight together with a brief size stand out. Something that leads us to draw a conclusion related to its own origins. And it is that, from what is seen, this engineer has never abandoned the same ideas that seduced him already in the sixties. Those who, led by men like Frank Costin or Colin Chapman, were defining the essence of Lotus Cars.

ALFA ROMEO JUNIOR Z, A CLASSIC FOR EVERYDAY

In the United Kingdom, the love of the classics is not only lived on weekends. Far from it, in that territory they have a long tradition regarding the so-called daily classic. That is, historical vehicles capable of serving on a day-to-day basis, mixing practicality with the enjoyment that any vehicle outside the current norm gives. Thus, it is not uncommon to see a Rover P5 or even a Reliant Robin parked in the parking lot of a supermarket or school.

With all this, it is not surprising to see how one of the vehicles used by Gordon Murray on his daily trips is an Alfa Romeo Junior Z. Launched in 1970, under its hood is a Twin Spark engine with 1.290 cubic centimeters and 103CV at 6.000 revolutions. per minute. The same mechanics incorporated in the GT Junior 1300 although, in this case, blessed by the futuristic lines and the improved lightness of its bodywork signed by Zagato. Thanks to this, the weight of this machine was 970 kilos. All of this with only about four meters in length, making it an especially practical vehicle in urban traffic.

In addition, its mix of manageability, softness and sporty character made it a perfect option for combining uses. Mixing your driving on long trips with the occasional enjoyment along mountain stretches. Anyway, there is no doubt as to how Alfa Romeo achieved everything thanks to the Junior Z. A true multipurpose device that also shows off one of the best designs applied by Zagato to a serial model.

However, despite being a truly balanced and successful car, more than half a century has passed since its introduction. This way, Gordon Murray thought it convenient to fine-tune the same respecting its definition. At this point is when Alphaholics appears. Focused on updating Alfa Romeo models, it has produced some of the most exciting restomods in recent times.

In the case of Gordon Murray's Junior Z, the first transformation to take into account was the one carried out on the engine. Cast in aluminum like its cylinder head, the block with four cylinders is now capable of delivering 230CV at 7.000 revolutions per minute. All this together with a custom-made refrigeration system exclusively for this unit. Regarding the gearbox, it has also been completely renewed, with perfect closed ratios for precise and sporty driving.

The suspension is also brand new. Including titanium parts to save as much weight as possible. In addition, they have adjustable gas shock absorbers in order to easily prepare a hypothetical entry into the circuit. Yes indeed, always respecting in its geometry and sensations the basic approaches arranged by Alfa Romeo during the sixties. What's more, even the interior -highly modified with its new seats- is completely in keeping with the spirit of the time.

With all this, the Alfa Romeo Junior Z modified by Alfaholics for Gordon Murray is not only a celebration of the concept daily classic, but also a respectful renovation towards the genesis of the model. Definitely, a car where the approaches that have made its owner so justly laureate come together. Always, yes, in the wake of Colin Chapman and his Lotus from the fifties, sixties and seventies.

Photographs: alfaholics

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Written by Miguel Sánchez

Through the news from La Escudería, we will travel the winding roads of Maranello listening to the roar of the Italian V12; We will travel Route66 in search of the power of the great American engines; we will get lost in the narrow English lanes tracking the elegance of their sports cars; We will speed up the braking in the curves of the Monte Carlo Rally and we will even get dusty in a garage while rescuing lost jewels.

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