.:: Abarth: ... beware of the scorpion!!! ::.

Abarth logo

A prickly and poisonous scorpion. There could be no best symbol to associate to a Company leader in the engine tuning that in the world practically won everything. A scorpion. An animal that arouses fear, that, when you meet it, is better to move awat so to avoid to be stung by his deadly sting. In thirty years of road races, they will surely have thought this way all the rivals of the Italian house, starting from the RENAULT ALPINE, sonorously defeated by the FULVIA and by the STRATOS, to continue with the OPEL and the AUDI against the 131 ABARTH and the LANCIA 037, to continue with the great duel PEUGEOT-DELTA S4, won by the first one only officially and, to end, with the great dominion of the LANCIA DELTA against all the Japanese houses. All these cars had a common denominator: they were race cars tuned or managed by the ABARTH.
To understand how and when the Turinese Company is born, it is necessary to do a jump back in the past, to half last century when the cars were a privilege for few people.
The society ABARTH & C. was founded by CARLO ABARTH and ARMANDO SCAGLIARINI on 31st March 1949. The first business place was in Bologna, in Via Don Minzoni 9. Mr. Abarth, of Austrian origin, become then Italian citizen, since from when he was young nourishes a great passion for the engines and starts his own activity in the motorcycle sector becoming tuner at the MOTOR THUN. We are in 1926 and KARL ABARTH, this was his native name, mechanics genius, develops for the Austrian team indeed interesting solutions for that time. He believes that, replacing the original engine with a more powerful one, it is possible to obtain a notable increase of the performances of the mean. The thing could seem obvious, but it is necessary also to remember that the first series car was produced in the first years of 1900 and, with a war in the middle, the few Europeans car and motocycle companies were not able to have big budgets. In the 1930 ABARTH leaves the motorbikes, after having been the number one in Austria in the sidecars field, to definitely pass to the cars. In 1945 he becomes agent of the PORSCHE KONSTRUKTIONBURO founded from professor FERDINAND PORSCHE and in 1946, after his move to Italy, he participates in the CISITALIA adventure, wanted by CESARE DUSIO, in which is also involved the driver TAZIO NUVOLARI, by now at the end of a bright career. In 1949, with the foundation of the house of the scorpion, ABARTH is affirmed on the market in the production of accessories for the increase of the car performances such as high performance exhaust systems to apply on the great series cars like FIAT and SIMCA. On 15th April of the same year, it happens the debut in the competitions world with the foundation of the CARLO ABARTH Race Team, specialized in CISITALIA cars. Since then an unbelievable series of successes are decorated by the scorpion. ABARTH collaborates with many sector stylists as BERTONE, VIGNALE and GHIA, and with GIACOSA, the father of the FIAT TOPOLINO. Furthermore, he tests his own ideas and experiences for companies as PORSCHE, ALFA ROMEO and FIAT with which he establishes a long and lasting relationship. In 1955 the Italian house produces the Fiat 600 that becomes the strong point of ABARTH. This car, realized with low production costs, is destined to a large public diffusion and, above all, excellently fits to the execution of many typologies of changes at the level of the engine. The small car becomes in few years the symbol of ABARTH that brought it from 600 to 750 cc. and then to 850 cc. and 1000 cc. This last evolution is a true bomb. In the NURBURGRING version, it develops around 85 Bhp and can reach the 188 Km/h. But it is not all. With the arrival of the small FIAT 500, ABARTH completes his series of sporting auto satisfying a big number of impassioned that could buy a car with a moderate expense. The FIAT 500, in the road version, could drive over the 120 Km/h - a considerable speed if we think about the kind of car - while in race-track, with the most powerful version named SS, the 160 Km/h could be touched. The last car born under the sign of the scorpion is the Fiat 850, a small masterpiece, built on the base of the popular sport car but with the engine strengthened of the double. A dreadful car with a power of 155 Bhp. that could reach a speed of 220 Km/hs, practically as a modern car of our days but without all that safety systems of which today the cars are gifted (ABS, AIRBAG, electronic checks).
For the great series production a new center is inaugurated in Corso Marche in Turin, a factory in great growth that, at the top of the success, could count over 150 employees. At the beginnings of the years '60, Italy notices the first signs of an economic crisis but CARLO ABARTH, crafty and fanciful genius, is able to avoid this problem thanks to the advent of a new compact car: the AUTOBIANCHI A112. This provides new incentives to the tuner that carries out a strongly peppery version of it named AUTOBIANCHI A112 ABARTH in 1969. It goes into production in 1971 and becomes a great commercial success, in fact they are realized seven versions, up to 1985. ABARTH was a skilled and ambitious person, sometimes up to the excess. He hated to be called "tuner" because he retained himself "a builder of sporting cars". In the world of races, he wanted to reach more and more prestigious goals and he didn't hide his desire to become a leader in the sport-prototypes category. For this reason, in 1967 he nearly arrived to the economic crash to see realized his dream: a prototype with 12 cylinders, 6 liters, project failed because of the new FIA rules.
Despite these great and continuous successes (we don't forget the 3,5 million of race exhaust systems built in great series), ABARTH in October 1971 arrives to a difficult economic situation that makes inevitable the intervention of FIAT. The Turinese Company totally takes over its ownership, giving life to the Races department named FIAT-ABARTH. To avoid logistic problems the Italian group decides to leave to the FERRARI the job to compete in the maximum division, the Formula 1, while the FIAT-ABARTH could take care of the rally cars development, for a long time test of technical solutions to be applied then to the great production. Victories don't delay and in 1972 a FIAT 124 ABARTH triumphs at the RALLY of ACROPOLIS beginning an impressive and not quantifying series of successes, that arrives up to today thanks to the performances of the FIAT PUNTO ABARTH S1600. However, we want to remember the glorious FIAT 131 ABARTH, also produced in road version, Makes World Champion in 1977, 1978 and 1980, car on which all the greatest drivers as WALTER ROEHRL, World Champion in 1980, MARKKU ALEN, winner in 1978, and ADARTICO VUDAFIERI Italian Champion in 1980 and European in 1981, have raced. We cannot forget the LANCIA RALLY-ABARTH 037, winner on all the roads of the world, whose sign with the scorpion on the steering wheel and on the broadsides made it even more dangerous. Finally the incomparable decade tied up to the name of the LANCIA DELTA produced in the version S4 gr.B, maximum technology expression for a rally car, with a power near to the 600 Bhp. and, subsequently, with the models 4WD, INTEGRALE, INTEGRALE 16V, HF EVOLUZIONE practically unbeatable, as the seven titles consecutively conquered from 1987 to 1992 demonstrate. But the ABARTH cars have also countersigned above all as the first cars of the new talents. ATTILIO BETTEGA, CARLO CAPONE, FRANCO CUNICO, FABRIZIO TABATON, MICHELE CINOTTO, are only some names of great drivers that begun their glorious career on board of the small A112, an agile and powerful car with which they were able to do high performancies. And not only. Other rally cars as the FIAT RITMO ABARTH and the FIAT UNO TURBO have been able to honour the logo of the scorpion, definitely ended with the cessation of the rally activity of the FIAT-LANCIA group.
Today ABARTH is only a memory. The name and the symbol of the scorpion are still tied up to the small FIAT cars that partecipate to the rallies with the Trophies FIAT PUNTO, FIAT 500 and FIAT 600, but it is more a marketing and sales operation than a real rally tuning. We are by now distant from what it has been the true spirit of the competitions, dictated above all by the desire to race and secondarily from the passion for the engines and for the tuning, feelings nourished also by CARLO ABARTH although he had only few means available. For years all the impassioned are waiting with anxiety the official return to the races of the FIAT-ABARTH group but we believe, perhaps in pessimistic way, that such desire can hardly be realized for a long time. A last thing must be remembered. CARLO ABARTH was born on 15th November 1908, so he was of the sign of the Scorpio. His symbol was the scorpion. ABARTH passed away to the age of 70 years, on 24th October 1979, once again under the sign of the Scorpio.

.:: Moments of glory ... ::.
FIAT 124 ABARTH RALLY (Photo archive) FIAT 131 ABARTH RALLY (Photo archive)
LANCIA DELTA S4 (Photo archive) LANCIA DELTA INTEGRALE (Photo archive)
FIAT GRANDE PUNTO (Photo archive)

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