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Abarth Performance: Racing Roots to Modern Resurgence

Abarth Performance: Racing Roots to Modern Resurgence

man sitting on a chair infront of a bunch of vehicles from red, to white, to yellow


Founded in 1949 by the Austrian-Italian engineer Carlo Abarth, Abarth & C. was established in Turin, Italy. Abarth, born Karl Abarth, had a passion for racing and engineering, which drove him to create his own company focused on performance tuning and racing cars. Supported by Armando Scagliarini, an Italian motorcycle manufacturer, Abarth’s venture gained initial financial backing, enabling the company to begin its operations. Abarth himself was a notable figure in the automotive industry, having previously worked for companies like Porsche and Cisitalia, where he gained valuable experience in performance engineering.

black and white photo of aerial view of warehouse with cars and trees in the front
Abarth factory in Turin, Italy
Source: Abarth

Prior to its union with Fiat, Abarth gained recognition for producing exceptional vehicles, including the Cisitalia 204A, a 4-speed manual capable of 81HP and the Cisitalia D46 3-speed 68HP tube car . These cars showcased Abarth’s expertise in enhancing the performance of existing models, featuring upgrades in engine power, aerodynamics, and handling. The 204A, for instance, boasted a modified engine capable of delivering impressive power output, while the D46 displayed prowess in aerodynamic design, making it a competitive force in racing circuits.

Silver race car with small tires and one seat parked on a reflective floor
The Abarth Cisitalia 204A (above) and a Cisitalia D46 driven by race car driver, Rob Roy in 1958.
Source: Bonhams, Supercars & Primotipo

The collaboration between Abarth and Fiat in 1971 marked a significant milestone in the company’s history. Fiat’s acquisition led to the establishment of the Fiat-Abarth motor division, which focused on producing high-performance variants of Fiat vehicles. Notable successes include the Fiat-Abarth 595 and 695 models, which featured turbocharged engines delivering substantial horsepower and torque figures for their size. For instance, the Fiat-Abarth 695 Biposto boasted a 1.4-liter turbocharged engine producing 190 horsepower and 250 Nm of torque, making it one of the most powerful vehicles in its segment. 

White Fiat Abarth 695 on asphalt pictured with a sunset sky
A long lasting connection produced the Fiat Abarth 695 (White) & 595 (Orange).
Source: Abarth

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