Abarth is an Italian racing car maker founded by Austrian-Italian Carlo Abarth and Italian Armando Scagliarini in Turin in 1949. It’s logo depicts a stylized scorpion on a red and yellow background – this was Carlo’s birth sign! Now recognised as one of the automotive ‘greats’, Abarth was an innovator and skilled engineer; masterminding the development of the world famous FIAT 500 Abarth racing cars… the giant killers, which scored hundreds of race victories in the early years of the company and prior to being part of Fiat. Abarth developed ‘streamliner’ record breaking cars too, again setting many records, alongside creating some of the most beautiful cars ever made.
Little known facts about Abarth include he was a very successful motorcycle racer; racing, and winning, at Grand Prix and International level. He was also a good driver – setting speed and endurance records into his late 50s. Abarth designed, built and developed his own ‘Scorpion’ badged racing and road cars but also developing the world beating Fiat and Lancia Rally cars that won many rallies - Fiat’s Abarth 124 won the Monte Carlo Rally in 1974 and the Fiat 131 Abarth was a very successful rally car; winning the World Rally Championship three times: in 1977, 1978, and in 1980 with Markku Alen, Timo Salonen and Walter Röhrl at the wheel. The official “works” cars were sponsored by OLIO and Italian airline Alitalia and bore their distinctive red, white and green livery – later the Lancia Delta S4 carried the evocative livery of Martini – the Abarth Competition Racing Department engineering and preparing some of the most successful racing cars of their era with innovations such as the turbo supercharger combination.
Carlo Abarth began his well-known association with Fiat in 1952, building the Abarth 1500 Biposto on Fiat mechanicals. In the 1960s, Abarth & C. S.r.l was hugely successful in hillclimbing and sports car racing, mainly in classes from 850cc up to 2000cc, competing with Porsche 904 and Ferrari Dino. Hans Herrmann was a factory driver from 1962 until 1965, winning the 500km Nürburgring in 1963 with Teddy Pilette. Later, Johann Abt was promised by Carlo Abarth that he could drive a factory car for free if he won all the races he entered — which Abt nearly did, winning 29 of 30, the 30th being a second!
Along with its racing cars, Abarth produced high-performance exhaust pipes. Later, Abarth diversified in producing various tuning kits for road vehicles, mainly for Fiat. While there were many competitors Abarth largely dominated the Italian tuning market in the sixties. Abarth was also associated in producing sports or racing cars with Fiat, Porsche and Simca.
Abarth was sold to Fiat on July 31, 1971 with the racing team being sold to Enzo Osella. Abarth then became the racing department of Fiat, managed by famed engine designer Aurelio Lampredi. Some models built by Fiat, Lancia and Autobianchi were co-branded Abarth, the most famous being the Fiat Abarth 500. Abarth also prepared Fiat Group’s rally cars – Fiat 124 Abarth and 131 Abarth.
In the 80s the Abarth name was used to mark performance Fiats such as the Fiat Ritmo Abarth 130 TC and FIAT Stilo Abarth. In 2007 Fiat Group Automobiles SpA relaunched the brand with the Abarth Punto and the Abarth Punto S2000. The brand is a separate division to the main Fiat brand. It is based in the Officine 83, part of the old Mirafiori engineering plant in Turin.
Current road models:
Abarth Punto Evo S2000, Abarth 500 AC & R3T Rally
Abarth race cars:
Fiat Abarth 1000
1961 Abarth Monomille, rebodied Fiat 600 chassis.
Cars produced by Abarth include:
Fiat 500 Abarth
Fiat Abarth 750
Abarth 1000 TC (Fiat 600 Abarth)
Abarth 1100 Scorpione Spider (Boano)
Abarth 1500 Biposto
Abarth Simca 2000 – coupé
Abarth 204A Berlinetta
Abarth 205A Berlinetta
Alfa Romeo Abarth 2000 Coupe
Abarth 207A Spyder
Porsche 356B Carrera GTL Abarth
Abarth Simca 1300 GT
Fiat Abarth 850 TC Berlina
Fiat Abarth OT1000
Fiat Abarth OT1600
Fiat Abarth OT2000 Coupe
Fiat Abarth Zagato 750 Record Monza
Fiat Abarth Zagato 750 Record Monza Bialbero
Fiat Abarth Allemano 750 Spider
Fiat Abarth 1000TCR Berlina
Autobianchi A112 Abarth
Fiat Abarth 595 SS
Fiat Abarth 695 SS
Abarth OT 1300
Fiat Ritmo 125 TC Abarth
Fiat Ritmo 130 TC Abarth
Fiat 124 Abarth Rally
Fiat 131 Abarth Rally
Cars not produced by Abarth but with Abarth branding include:
Fiat Bravo GT/HGT (Abarth)
Fiat Stilo (Abarth)
Fiat Punto (Abarth)
Fiat Cinquecento Sporting (Abarth)
Fiat Seicento Sporting (Abarth)
Autobianchi A112 (Abarth)
New cars produced under Abarth & C. S.p.A. (2007— )
Abarth 500 SS
Assetto Corsa Rally
695 Tributo Ferrari
Abarth Grande Punto (2007)
Abarth Grande Punto SS (2007)
Abarth Punto Evo
Cars produced by other manufacturers with involvement from Abarth include:
Lancia Delta S4 for Group B-Helped to engineer the engine which utilised a supercharger and turbocharger.
A final note: Where does the red chequer originate? The ‘Red Chequer’ used in the Abarth branding is derived from the marker boards used in record attempts. Abarth set many records in cars designed, built and engineered by Abarth.