AC 378 GT Zagato

We haven't heard much about Perana in quite some time, but not nearly as long as it's been since the name AC last came up on our radar screen. The progenitor of the iconic Shelby Cobra, AC Cars is one of those great many British sportscar manufacturers that has long since disappeared into obscurity. There has been talk here and there of reviving the marque with a new model, but none of that seems to have materialized. Until now. Sort of.

Perana, as you may recall, is (or was) the name of an upstart automaker producing a devastatingly beautiful sportscar called the Z-One penned by no less accomplished a design house than Zagato. Now, the design (or, at least, what appears to be the same design) has resurfaced under the AC badge.

Called the 378 GT Zagato, the AC-ified Z-One is apparently being produced on the same line in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, where the Perana was, and where, incidentally, some Noble models are, as well. The numeric nameplate is taken from the cubic-inch displacement of the 6.2-liter V8 engine.

It's certainly not the first time Zagato has designed for an established British marque, the production version of the V12 Zagato it designed for Aston Martin having been unveiled as this one was being announced at the other end of the Geneva Palexpo. AC and Zagato also collaborated on a one-off Bristol variant back in 1957, a model that is scheduled to be showcased alongside the new 378 GT at Pebble Beach later this year where AC will be the featured marque two years after the Z-One made its U.S. debut on the very same manicured lawns.

That's not where the collaboration is expected to end, however, as a roadster based on the same platform but featuring more Cobra-like bodywork is next in the pipeline. We're not sure where that leaves Perana, but we'll be watching to see where this goes. In the meantime you can see the full press release and spec sheet below, with high-res images (including some deliciously retro color schemes) in the gallery above.
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Geneva, March 2012: AC 378 GT Zagato

The legendary 111-year old AC brand is continuing with its Anglo-Italian heritage and is pleased to launch the AC 378 GT Zagato. The new AC 378 GT Zagato, is also the latest in a long line of collaborations with the very best British car manufacturers during the Milanese Atelier's 93 years history. These include not only AC but also Aston Martin, Bentley, Bristol, Jaguar, MG, Rolls-Royce and Rover.

AC and Zagato first cooperated in 1957, creating the AC Ace Bristol Zagato one-off, a pure racing GT Berlinetta today considered an instant classic in the AC model portfolio. It was designed with the typical Zagato double-bubble roof and equipped with a 2 litre inline-6 engine. This sought after car will be back at Pebble Beach 2012 for a special event featuring AC Cars. The AC 378 GT Zagato and the AC Ace Bristol Zagato will be there to celebrate this historic association.

After two years of testing, about ten AC 378 GT Zagato pre-production units have been completed in Port Elizabeth, South Africa where the AC 378 Zagato's manufacturing facility is based. The cockpit's layout is entirely defined by perfectly matching the body's smooth lines, according to the typical Zagato's minimal design cues.

Throughout 2011 the AC 378 GT Zagato has undergone heavy track testing in order to optimize handling & performance and maximize the vehicle's response thanks to a very favourable power-to-weight ratio.

While first deliveries are foreseen starting from mid 2012, AC and Zagato are already conceiving a new roadster concept that follows the tradition of the instant classic roadster. That means a design that is not simply derived from the coupe version but is more in line with the heritage of the classic Cobra. It is expected to be very different from the AC 378 GT Zagato Coupé.