Historic Car Brands
In the early post-WWII years, Carlo Abarth was working as an engineering consultant in Italy, when he met Ferry Porsche and became the Italian representative for the early Porsche cars.
When Porsche assisted in the production of Cisitalia racing cars, Abarth was involved and, when Cisitalia went under in 1949, Carlo began producing his own brand racing cars, based on the Cisitalia 204 design, with tubular backbone chassis. His astrological sign, Scorpio, became the Abarth company logo.
The first true Abarth was the 204, introduced at the Turin Motor Show in 1950. It was powered by a Fiat 1100cc engine, fitted with Abarth manifolds and Porsche-style torsion-bar suspension.
Tazio Nuvolari made his last racing appearance in an Abarth 204A, taking a class victory in the Palermo-Monte Pellegrino Hillclimb in April 1950.
In 1952 came the Vignale-bodied 205 and the Scaglione-bodied 1500. Parallel with the racing car production business Abarth produced tuned manifolds for popular vehicles, mainly Fiat, Lancia and Simca, and also for Lambretta, whose Abarth-modified motorcycles held 125cc land speed records.
From 1956 most Abarth-badged cars were production-Fiat-based, starting with the modest 600 that became firstly an Abarth 750 and then the 850TC. His Zagato-bodied two-seat coupes, powered by twin-cam engines were class-winners all over Europe.
The 1960, the Bialbero, with two-litre engine, was the car to beat.
The Abarth-Simca 2000 appeared in 1966, with 200hp, making it a 270km/h coupe.
By 1971 Carlo Abarth had tired of making racing cars and sold his business to Fiat in July of that year. Under Fiat’s ownership, Abarth became the Group’s racing department and early fruits were the Fiat 124 Abarth Rally and the 131 Abarth.
For 1978 the Abarth racing effort took over Squadra Corse Lancia operations as well. That spawned the Lancia Rally 037 Group B car that won the 1983 manufacturer’s championship for Lancia.
Some Fiat, Lancia and Autobianchi models were co-branded ‘Abarth’ The Autobianchi A112 Abarth was used in Abarth Trophy races from1977 until 1984.
Fiat Abarths continue in production as at 2021 and are highly sought after. In 2017 Abarth collaborated with Yamaha to produce the XSR900 Abarth motorcycle, based on the 847cc in-line triple engine.