• Dec 8th 2009 at 9:59AM
  • 36

1994 Cizeta V16t

Whenever we've mentioned the Cizeta V16t supercar here on the pages of Autoblog in the past, we have always received mixed reactions. With its love-it-or-hate-it, Diablo-prototype looks and its unique transverse V16 engine, the car was a stunning achievement by former Lamborghini engineer, Claudio Zampoli. It was his vision, his engineering and his design work that made this project come to fruition. It was also his initials, C.Z., or "Ci Zeta" in Italian, that led to the vehicle's name. While only ten of the cars were ever built, they have attained a certain cult-like following among some enthusiasts.

Although often misidentified as a Cizeta Moroder, the correct name does not include the name of music composer Giorgio Moroder, who was an early investor that dropped out in the planning stages. The 560-horsepower, V16 beast was said to be good for well over 200 MPH in its day, and for anyone who has seen or heard it in person, it's not hard to believe. We consider ourselves very lucky indeed to have spent some time in one of these Veyron-preceding 16-cylinder marvels. The red one you see above is so familiar to all of us in the SoCal car community that we sometimes forget just how exotic it really is. We've seen it at numerous events around Southern California and have gotten to know Mr. Zampoli as well.

Imagine our shock, then, to hear that the very Cizeta we know best has been seized by Federal authorities. According to news reports, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency has seized the car, alleging that Zampoli violated U.S. customs and environmental laws when he brought the car into the country in 2001. One issue was the price claimed for the vehicle when it was brought over, which at $125,000 was approximately one fourth of its price when new.

The other issue is the fact that the car was never certified by U.S. agencies for emissions and safety regulations. It is not uncommon for such small manufacturers to skip U.S. importation because of the cost involved in crash testing these expensive autos. Some are granted exemptions using the government's Show or Display rules, and others are sometimes imported as museum pieces that are never registered for road use.

We know that there will be a lot more to this story as it unfolds. For one thing, we know that Mr. Zampoli moved his operations to the U.S. several years ago. We also believe that this particular vehicle never belonged to him. It was allegedly shipped over for updates and repairs by its Austrian owner in 2001 and was supposed to be shipped back by 2004 after receiving an extension on its stay. For one reason or another, the owner never had it shipped back. It has always worn European tags and a manufacturer plate when out and about.

While the official ICE statement that alludes to these cars being "a real threat to public health and safety" is laughable in many ways, the fact remains that the Cizeta was never certified for sale in the States and due to its extremely limited production, it probably never received an exemption for Show or Display. For now, the authorities are trying to have the car forfeited to the federal government, with the intent to have it auctioned to an overseas buyer eventually. We'll be sure to keep you posted. Thanks for the tips, everyone.

[Source: The Orange County Register]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      Millions of illegal PEOPLE running around SoCal but a car is the only thing deported. LOL
      • 5 Years Ago
      Sad... This is my favorite car too. I don't see why they let the Veyron in if the Cizeta can't. They have an equal amount of cylinders, and they Veyron has almost double the HP. It'd be more reasonable for a Cizeta than a Veyron. Although Veyrons are cool too.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Don't the Feds have anything more important to worry about like drug dealers and murderers?
        • 5 Years Ago
        As long as the federal government has a surplus of agents, time and money I see no problem with them chasing down every random, petty scofflaw. We do have a surplus of these things, right??
        • 5 Years Ago
        Those actually involve working, silly.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Plus it's a big distorted ugly car anyway, take it out of my country! ;)

      A transverse V16? Really? Really?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Everone's got to obey the law, even the sucky ones.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I wouldn't have. I would have rather blown the thing up then have it end up in the hands of those morons!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Wasn't it running around with dealer plates? It is really sad to see this hapen to such a unique car and for some reason the Fed seams to really be cracking down on this stuff. It used to be in California you could get away with nearly anything with dealer plates, I guess just not customs.

      Anyways if you dig deeper into the story of the Cizeta you will find a long history of controversy that has gone on with it.
      • 5 Years Ago
      concur with Big E.....one unique car rolling around, and you want to hold it cause it has been tested for crashes, yet made it this far in pristine condition....
        • 5 Years Ago
        Too bad. I really enjoyed seeing it at the Best of France and Italy Car Show when it would show up. It's a great historical footnote that I point out to my kids and tell them the story of how my uncle ALMOST became a engineering consultant on the project.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I saw this just last month at a car show at Woodley Park located in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles.

      I was at the corner of Balboa and Woodley, near the park, when this big red beast came lumbering ito view.

      Never having known of it before, and being aware of just about every other kind of exotic around (including those of Jay Leno, who was at said car show in a completely wild old Bugatti) at first view I thought it was some kind of rather well done kit job.

      I watched it make its way down Woodley Blvd. to the park entrance, and for some reason it seemed 'different', not the least reason being that it seemed huge.

      Anyway, I got to the show in the park a while later, and what do I see but the Cizeta parked under the pine trees with its big rear hatch up.

      There was a small group of curious onlookers standing around when somebody suddenly, without warning, fired it up, and, si, it was LOUD.

      Also, it spewed out more unburnt hydrocarbons this side of a Hemi MoPar (which also make regular yearly appearances at shows in this same park) and with the engine cover up and the immensely wide powerplant in view, a larger crowd instanlty formed itself around this superstar supercar.

      I don't know if the driver was Signor Zampoli, but everytime whoever it was fired the thing up and gassed it mercilessly up and down to redline for a couple of minutes, upon shutting it off there was always a hearty round of applause for the show.

      A stellar performer indeed!
      • 5 Years Ago
      I keep coming back to this story, and every time I do, I get so angry.

      Chinese made garbage that undermines our entire economy is imported by the container shipload.

      They allow them to sell us poisoned toothpaste, cat food, exploding tires and lead filled childrens toys but A BEAUTIFUL HANDMADE CAR, REPRESENTING EVERYTHING GOOD HUMANS CAN DO GETS IMPOUNDED?



        • 5 Years Ago

        I have traveled the world, read my earlier post about dealing with customs.

        Trading with other nations isn't unethical. It can be beneficial to both nations, not just one while destroying the economy of the other. That's what I'm against. That's why trade with China is unethical. There's a difference between buying a car made in Japan and poison toothpaste from Wal Mart.

        Obama is a looter facist. He's not murdering people, but the mentality of the morons that back him are what's dragging the economy into the dirt. Just like the looter bankers on the other side of the aisle.

        True capitalism is not the bastardized version that liberals like you claim it is.

        The facism that we've got today is much more subtle and starts with societal indoctrination in school and through the media. You don't think the media and the government are mostly run by a bunch of drooling looter idiots? Come on. It's not a conspiracy, it's just stupidity.

        Those who produce the least are the ones who often profit the most. That's what's wrong with the economy.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I love your double standards. You are pro capitalism and free markets, yet you are against importing goods "that undermine our economy" even though you want to import a car. You can't have it both ways.

        Do you people even know what fascism is? When you wave your Fascist/Obama signs, please try to show me when Obama has murdered tens of millions of Jews or dissenters in concentration camps. Enlighten me as to when the Government censors the newspapers. When you have traveled the world and seen this first hand, or have even picked up a history book, come back and tell me that we live in a fascist nation.

        Do I support our car importation laws? No. Japan and the rest of the world have an eclectic array of cars that aren't the "dangerous" monsters they supposedly are. But to say that it's "fascist" is nonsense. Not having a GT-R is not the same as being shot for dissenting or for being Jewish.
      • 5 Years Ago
      A four wheeled illegal alien?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Let the man have his car!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Wow... I'm a CBP employee, and there's just no way a line agent would file the paperwork for this sort of case. Some huff-puffed Supervisor probably saw the situation and made the guy write it up. There's certainly more exciting things to go after than some guy's work of art.

      Just sad. I hope I meet the agent one day. Work of art, for God's sakes.
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