On March 31, 1949, Carlo Abarth (1908-1979) founded the company Abarth & C. together with driver Guido Scagliarini. The first vehicle they produced was the Fiat 1100-based 204 A Roadster. This model immediately won the Italian “1100 Sport” championship and the Formula 2 title. Since then, the list of racing and industry records has grown rapidly.
Carlo Abarth's career started with motorcycles. As an 20 year old, he already won his first motorcycle race. The following year he built his own Abarth motorcycle. Two accidents made Abarth decide to stop racing in 1939. It was the start of a new beginning for Carlo Abarth. In 1945 he moved to Merano and assumed Italian nationality.
From establishment to 375 man staff
In 1949 he founded Abarth & C. and the company specialized in the development of tuning kits for volume-produced cars. The first performance product is an exhaust system for the Fiat Topolino, and later Abarth made a name for itself by developing these systems for multiple applications and models. It led to Abarth & C. becoming a household name. In 1962 it employed 375 people who together produced 257.000 exhaust systems, of which 65% for export.
The late 50 and 60 years were the most successful for the company. For example, a Fiat Abarth 750 designed by Bertone broke the endurance and speed record in 1956. On 18 June on the Monza circuit, it broke the 24 hour record with 3.743 kilometers driven at an average speed of 155 km / h. On the same circuit, Abarth recorded even more records between 27 and 29 June: The 5.000 and 10.000 km, the 5.000 mile and also the 48 and 72 hours. The same vehicle was designed by Zagato in two different versions: the Fiat Abarth 750 Zagato (1956) and the Fiat Abarth 750 GT Zagato (1956).
Close ties with Fiat
Abarths' call went far. The son of the American president Roosevelt, for example, signed an exclusive contract to be able to distribute Abarth in America. In 1958, Abarth tackled the new, small Fiat 500. In the same year the bond with Fiat strengthened, although the collaboration with Simca also led to impressive cars. But Fiat was the main focus. "Turin" provided financial rewards for every victory and record that the team would achieve. That formed the basis for an absolutely impressive list: 10 world records, 133 international records and more than 10.000 victories on the circuit.
The sixties were the most successful period for Abarth anyway. The name became synonymous with speed, courage, performance and development. The 850 TC and the 1000 TC (the latter won four times the ETCC among others) were true winners. Another highlight took place in 1965. Then Carlo Abarth wanted to achieve the fastest sprint time in a G-class racer on the Monza circuit. Because he had not raced for some time and could not find a suitable candidate for the record attempt, Abarth took a special step: he drove himself, and successfully. In October 1965 he set a new sprint record on the quarter mile and 1000 meters with the Fiat Abarth 105 Monoposto Record Class G with 500 hp. It was one of the most legendary events in the rich Abarth history.
Takeover by Fiat
In 1971 the world looked different. Then "Fiat Auto" took over Abarth. The last vehicle on which the founder of the brand actually cooperated is the A112 Abarth. In the end, Carlo Abarth sold his brainchild to Fiat in 1971. The company had financial difficulties, partly due to major investments in competitive sport. Under Fiat auspices, a number of successful rally cars were born after 1971. The Fiat-Abarth 124 Rally and the Fiat-Abarth 131 Rally are good examples of this. Later Lancias were also built with Abarth technology, such as the 037, the Delta 4S and a version based on the Delta Integrale.
"Meticulous technology down to the milligram"
Yet the scorpion slowly disappeared from view and the performance concept devalued to a modest sporting equipment level. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles decided to return the Abarth brand name in 2007. The name giver no longer experienced it. He already died in 1979, but left a beautiful legacy, making an impressive contribution to Italian motor sport and culture. And those from far beyond. It is like Guy Moerenhout, owner of the beautiful Abarth Works Museum in Lier, said. “Abarth's technology is a form of Meccano. It can be applied to everything, and the most beautiful combinations and designs could be realized. In addition, Abarth was meticulous. Every milligram of weight that could be saved was saved. Even the smallest nuts were still drilled. That precision was partly the basis of the success. Abarth tapped the best out of every car tackled, "said the owner of the largest collection of Abarth models in the world.
In 2008, the Abarth brand was revived with the Abarth Grande Punto (2007) and Abarth 500 (2008), with tuning kits and the racing version of the Abarth Grande Punto, the Rally Super 2000 and the Abarth 500 Assetto Corse. After that, the new models succeeded each other in rapid succession. Various models of the 500 and 595 based on today's Fiat 695 (such as the Tributo Ferrari) and the Abarth 124 Spider followed. The 70th anniversary is being celebrated by Abarth with new “70th Anniversary” models featuring a special badge.