Weekly Treasure: 1988 Italdesign Aztec

Car Culture / 18 Comments

It's so wonderfully weird.

There's a decent chance not everyone reading this has heard of the Italdesign Aztec. That's okay because only 18 examples were made despite an initial 50-unit planned production run. Designed by none other than Giorgetto Giugiaro while at Italdesign (which is now owned by VW Group), the Aztec is a two-seat sports car built to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the design firm's establishment. And yes, it looks like it's straight out of a science fiction movie.

Initially, those 50 planned examples were to be built for the European and Japanese markets through an agreement with a Japanese firm called Compact. Its body panels were quite advanced for its time, being constructed from aluminum, carbon fiber, and Kevlar over a steel chassis. But it's the design that truly makes this thing wonderfully weird.

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Take note of the doors. They're actually canopies that are hinged at the center. In other words, gullwing doors. But there's also a conventional front-hinged door. This split door design is further reflected by the split cabin. Both driver and passenger are separated by not only a center console but also a beam directly at head level. The result, once the doors are closed, is a double canopy, each with a removable Plexiglas top bubble. The passenger side even features a grab handle and a Halda rally computer.

Additional interesting exterior features include rear-wheel spats, transparent door inserts, pop-up headlights (hey, it was the '80s), and a carbon-fiber rear wing. The rear quarter panels are also quite interesting in that they have integrated interfaces allowing for access to cockpit and service areas via three-digit codes. On the left-hand side, there's a fuel door with 12-volt receptacles, ventilator switches, and manometers on either side.

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Giugiaro even added a hydraulic jacking system, a fire extinguisher, lamps, tools, and even an oil drain spigot on one of the rocker panels. Under the hood lies an Audi-sourced 2.2-liter turbocharged inline-five paired to a five-speed manual. Power is directed to all four wheels through a Lancia all-wheel drive system. Like today's Audi TT RS, the automaker had a thing for five pots even back then.

The chances of finding an Italdesign Aztec up for sale aren't good due to its rarity, but today could be some collector's lucky day. There just so happens to be one available for purchase on Bring A Trailer.

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This particular Aztec was said to be on display at the Shanghai Automotive Museum in China from 2011 to 2015 and was then purchased and shipped to the US where it resided as part of the Blackhawk Collection in California. Not surprisingly, it's hardly ever been driven, showing just 250 miles on its odometer. The sale includes the car's US import documents. So, the price?

As of this writing, the highest bid was $75,000, though we expect this figure to climb since the auction isn't slated to end until February 23. Any collector who's looking to add something a bit strange and extremely unique to their garage, this is the car to buy.

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Source Credits: Bring A Trailer

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