Opening this week, the new Officine Abarth Classiche program will be responsible, among other things, for the restoration of vintage Abarth vehicles and the certification of their mechanical authenticity. Similar to the Ferrari Classiche department, private owners of classic Abarths will be able to send their pride and joy to the factory for service, maintenance, and restoration at the hands of factory technicians and with the benefit of the company's own archives. Work will be undertaken in a dedicated, thousand-square-foot workshop at the Mirafiori Abarth factory in Turin, and will of course include Abarth-tuned Fiats. But the program is also open to all the various Lancias, Alfa Romeos, Autobianchis, and Cisitalias fettled over the years by the Italian performance studio - to say nothing of the Zagato and Ghia prototypes.
Beyond restoration, Officine Abarth Classiche will also organize special events for owners of vintage Abarth machinery, and undertake a comprehensive Abarth registry. It has also commissioned a book on the history of the marque, recreated company founder Carlo Abarth's office at the Mirafiori workshop, and even signed on Carlo's widow Anneliese Abarth to serve as a brand ambassador. It's an ambitious undertaking, and you can read about it in full – along with some history of the name – in the full press release below.
The Great Abarth Classiche Project
- The great story of the performances and sporting grandeur of the Scorpion and the records it has broken is celebrated through the ambitious Abarth Classiche initiative.
- At the heart of the project, the Officine Abarth Classiche offer the owners of both legendary road and racing models the chance to have
-- their vehicles carefully restored;
-- the Abarth Mechanical Components certification on engine, gearbox, exhaust and suspension;
-- Customer Service of the highest quality standards with a dedicated freephone number run by FCA's Customer Service Centre; a website where customers can book their appointment with the workshop;
-- an optional dedicated pick-up service for customers' vehicles.
- The vehicles in question include true legends which have spanned the second half of the twentieth century: fancy vehicles, extreme prototypes and rally queens.
- To mark the launch of the Officine Abarth Classiche, plans to create an Abarth Register have been announced. This will coordinate all the activities: fairs, events, meetings and competitions.
- The victories and records which underpin the brand's history are an essential part of its heritage and their story is told in the book "Abarth: the Scorpion's tale".
- Anneliese Abarth, the lifelong companion of the ingenious car manufacturer and founder of the brand, today continues to represent the Scorpion.
- The life of Carlo Abarth, creator of an almost unprecedented success in the field of motor racing.
Introducing Abarth Classiche, a long-term project which involves the entire universe of the Scorpion brand. Indeed, the initiative will be composed of several elements, starting with the restoration centre being opened today, 18th November, at the Mirafiori Abarth Workshop in Turin.
In the beating heart of the business designed to develop serial and racing models, an area spanning approximately 900 square metres has been set up as a workshop dedicated to restoring customers' historic Abarths. The restoration activities will be carried out with a high level of accuracy and will aim to ensure that any changes faithfully recreate the original conditions of the vehicle. To ensure compliance with the original designs and mechanics, Abarth will rely on a full range of documentation, including technical drawings, which has recently been catalogued and digitalised. This will also prove useful for the purpose of certifying the authenticity of the mechanical parts (engine, gearbox, exhaust and suspension), and when defining the certification procedures, Abarth has called upon on the advice and experience of the ASI (Historical Italian Automotoclub) and FIVA.
The launch of the Officine Abarth Classiche is only the beginning of a larger project that envisages the creation of the Abarth Register, designed to bring all the enthusiasts of the brand together with a series of activities ranging from the participations in meetings to vintage car races, managed by the Automobile Club d'Italia, through Aci Storico. The Abarth Classiche project is also online at www.abarthclassiche.com.
The face of the initiative is Anneliese Abarth, Carlo's wife, who enthusiastically accepted this role to publicise the long story of the company founded by her husband on 15 November 1949. An important story, marked from its very beginning by a string of successes and a wealth of inventive spirit. Starting with the victory in the 1100 Sport Italian Championships, with the 204A and in the Formula 2 field, then progressing to the great commercial success of the kits for transforming the Fiat 500 and 600 economy vehicles, which allowed many young and not so young enthusiasts to successfully try their hand at racing using everyday vehicles.
Tens of vehicles were developed and built by Abarth between 1949 and 1971, the year in which the company was bought by Fiat, which continued developing its success stories, both in the racing field and commercially, with enhanced utility models such as the Abarth Autobianchi A112.
These are all vehicles with a wide fan base in Italy and abroad, owned by an army of enthusiasts who conserve them with extreme dedication. From now on, these models can rediscover their original personality thanks to the Officine Abarth Classiche, where customers will be issued with a file containing all the information relative to the vehicles, lovingly restored to their former glory.
The story of the Abarth brand is also told in a work composed of three volumes written by Sergio Seccatore and entitled "Abarth: the Scorpion's tale", created by the Italian Fiat Register.
Abarth also tells its story through references to its current models, such as the 695 Biposto Record, manufactured in a limited series of only 133 cars: the same number as that of the records held by the Scorpion's vehicles. Instead, the anniversary of the quarter-mile acceleration record broken on 20 October 1965 was celebrated with the launch of the Abarth 695 Assetto Corse Record on the Mugello racetrack during the Italian Endurance Touring Championships.
The Officine Abarth Classiche
The Officine Abarth Classiche stand tall inside the Mirafiori industrial complex, in the Abarth workshop area. They span a surface area of approximately 900 square metres, and are equipped with two hoists, machine tools, and a high-precision finishing line. The workshop process flow and the selection of tools and equipment were decided upon in conjunction with specialists from Mopar, the brand of reference for services, Customer Care, original spare parts and accessories for FCA brands.
Particular attention is paid to the precision of the details. With machines capable of reconstructing the details that are no longer available on the market, in line with the original drawings. Moreover, each phase of the restoration process is photographed, with a view to providing the customer with full documentation of the work carried out on the vehicle.
Generally, the owner of a classic Abarth vehicle can book a preliminary appointment for the vehicle to be examined by visiting the website www.abarthclassiche.com and filling in the specific form provided on-line or by calling the Abarth freephone number managed by the FCA Customer Service Centre.
If necessary, he or she may also request a dedicated pick-up service for his/her vehicle: a specialist operator will collect the car directly from a place of the Customer's choice and take it to the Officine Abarth Classiche.
The preliminary diagnosis enables the model to be specifically dated and the operations required by the vehicle to be identified, with reference, if necessary, to the documentation present in the historical archive. The customer is provided with a preliminary estimate before the works commence, and the cars are restored according to the nine phases of the Abarth restoration process: from historic research to the vehicle definition. The customer is then kept constantly up to date on the progress of the operations. On completion of works, the car is assigned a certification which contains an exhaustive dossier with all the details of the model and of the restoration process.
As regards certification, thanks also to the support of the ASI, Abarth has developed its own Certification process which concerns mainly the mechanical components of classic Abarth vehicles - engine, gearbox, exhaust and suspension - in other words, the parts which distinguish an authentic Abarth product.
Once the vehicles have been checked, the customer is given an Abarth Mechanical Components Certification, the certification plate and related 'certification manual' that contains all the technical and photographic documentation of the certification process carried out in our workshops.
Abarth Classiche restores all Abarth brand vehicles, both road and racing models, including those branded Lancia which have raced after being developed and enhanced by Abarth technicians. This means that all the cars produced from the 1950s onwards form part of the list. From the Cisitalia 204, the Abarth "1500" based on the Fiat 1400, the prototypes designed by Ghia, the Abarth "2000" based on the Alfa Romeo 1900 Sprint right up to the Fiat 600 and the 750 based on the Abarth, the 500 based on the Abarth and the 750 Abarth designed by Zagato, the famous "double bubble".
In the 1960s, the most prominent models were the 850 and 1000 TC, the small Abarth 595 and 695 also in the "SS" and "Assetto Corsa" versions, the "Monza Record" 750 Zagato and the large 2200 and 2400. Not to mention the super-sporty Abarth "1000 Bialbero", Abarth-Simca "1600 GT" and "2000 GT", the Fiat Abarth 2300 S coupé, the 850 OT and 1000 OT, and lastly the "monstrous" OT 1600. Others that can be added to the list include the OT 2000 and OT 1300 "Periscopio", the "2000 Monoposto Record", the OT 1000 Coupè, 1000 OTS and the OT 2000.
The 1970s are characterised by the Fiat 124, the Fiat 131, the Autobianchi A112 developed by Abarth, 58 and 70 HP, and the incredible 3000 Prototype, the single seaters and double seaters that raced in, and won, many competitions. But the story of the Scorpion doesn't stop here: indeed, we cannot afford to forget the Lancia Rally (037), Delta S4 and all the integral versions of the Delta, in addition to the models used in the Fiat single brand races: Uno 70S, Uno Turbo with electronic injection, Fiat Cinquecento 900 and Sporting Kit.
To mark the launch of the Officine Abarth Classiche, announcements have been made regarding the creation of the Abarth Register. It will be linked to the Italian Fiat Register and will coordinate all the activities of a dynamic club with an international outlook by participating in many events in the sector, divided into four main categories: exhibitions, cultural events, meetings and competitions. The office is the same one that manages the Italian Fiat Register, with which a synergy that will lead to new initiatives has been launched.
Championships on the track
Abarth has racing in its DNA and there are many classic cars of the Scorpion that participate in racing events, in particular on the circuit and in hill-climbing events. From the popular Abarth 850 TC, 1000 TC, to the 2-cylinder models 595 and 695 Assetto Corsa and "esseesse", then the GT categories with the endless versions of berlinette designed by Zagato, and finally the more powerful vehicles, such as the prototype sports models in the various engine cylinder capacities. All these vehicles thrive in their "natural habitat" in the race tracks and hill-climbing courses and are popular with the public.
Abarth vehicles are also often present in rallies, given the brand's great tradition of successes in this specialised sector. It is not uncommon to see the Fiat Abarth 131 Rally or Fiat Abarth 124 Rally still successfully compete in the special races of the most prestigious meets today. There is a large number of Abarth Autobianchi A112s which, from 1977 to 1984, were the protagonists of the famous single brand championships and which still turn up en masse today at the main races.
In what is already a lively context, new initiatives will be developed in collaboration with ACI Storico to incentivise and organise the drivers of the classic Abarth vehicles, offering a significant link with the current Abarth race trophies.
One of the most attractive aspects of the initiative for enthusiasts is the chance to participate in Abarth meetings. These are pleasant events that provide an opportunity for people united by the same passion to meet and interact, as well as use their vehicles and show them to the public. Abarth Classiche will organise a number of events directly, via its register, to consolidate this passion and call upon new collectors of the brand. The meetings will be organised on an international level, to unite and reunite the fans of the Scorpion all over the world.
Presence at the most prestigious international events
At the moment, Abarth Classiche manages some vehicles that belong to the Fiat-Lancia Collection. These are vehicles with a great sporting "pedigree": an official Fiat Abarth 124 Rally from 1974, a Fiat Abarth 131 Rally from 1976 with the Alitalia colours and the last Lancia Rally (037) ever built in Abarth, manufactured in 1984 with the Martini colours.
Three record-breaking prototypes also form part of Abarth Classiche: the single-seater driven by Carlo Abarth himself in his bid to break the acceleration records over 400 and 500 metres in 1965 and two single seater berlinettes designed by Bertone and Pininfarina. These cars represent the history of the Scorpion and will take part in some of the most prestigious events in the international calendar.
"Abarth: the Scorpion's tale"
There are stories of success, of victories and glory. Romantic stories, made up of passion, love and madness.
And stories that become legend, like that of Carlo Abarth. Those who had the pleasure and honour of knowing him describe him as a "dreamer with his feet firmly planted on the ground": an oxymoron who found justification in his personal challenges, firstly as a sportsman and then as a businessman. Passionate about racing from a very early age, from the 1950s on, Abarth combined the production of special parts and the development of vehicle performance with his sporting activities. His great intuition was that of offering the public the possibility of experiencing the passion for cars and racing as part of their everyday lives, by making extraordinary products that began as standard cars and making ordinary people into racing drivers on a daily basis. Thanks to Abarth, the sports car became a dream that could come true, now not only reserved for a restricted elite group of enthusiasts but for anyone who wanted it. This is why Carlo Abarth can definitely be considered the inventor of the concept of development in the automobile field.
This activity allowed him to launch an adventure of great sporting and industrial successes, with an echo that surprisingly reached as far as here, loud and clear. And even today, over a century after the birth of its founder, the Abarth brand is a household name in all four corners of the planet.
Speed, performance, adrenalin: for motor enthusiasts, the Scorpion will always be the symbol of many epic endeavours. But one in particular stands out: the personal feat of Carlo Abarth who, in 1965 at the age of 57 years old, lost over 30 kg so that he could fit into the seat of the Fiat Abarth 1000 Monoposto Record and break the acceleration records for the quarter mile and 500 metres. Or, the "Fiat Abarth 1000 Pininfarina", today kept carefully under wraps, the memory of which is linked to the seven records broken on the Monza circuit by nine drivers who raced in September 1960 for three days in a row.
In other words, writing about Abarth means writing about passion. And it is precisely the passion for the brand that unites people of all social statuses and all ages. Most of all, the possibility of encouraging young people to again share the emotion of driving an Abarth on everyday roads today was one of the strongest reasons that drove the brand to revamp and represent the glorious past of Abarth, a historical legacy that is not to be turned upside down, but simply updated.
The victories and the broken records, the innovations and the original, at times somewhat crazy ideas of Abarth from back then are the elements that compose the brand's cultural heritage today, in addition to its main source of wealth. They are the stories of the men and women who have contributed to the success of the brand, a story to be told and that is finally brought to light in the work "Abarth: the Scorpion's tale", written by Sergio Seccatore and created by the Italian Fiat Register.
Anneliese Abarth and the passion for the brand
Anneliese Abarth, the lifelong companion of the ingenious car manufacturer and brand founder, today continues representing the Scorpion, as a salute to her deeply-rooted personal and professional relationship with Abarth.
Anneliese, who has always been a car enthusiast, and now chairs the Carlo Abarth Foundation, accompanied the ingenious founder of the brand, staying by his side right up until the day of his sad demise. Therefore, there is no better witness to the brand's story than this lady, whose continuous, long and intense relationship characterised the lives of the couple.
This is why Anneliese Abarth is today the brand ambassador and, by participating in the numerous activities of the Scorpion, represents the brand in the many events for vintage cars and the international meetings of the various clubs. There is nobody better than Anneliese, who has experienced the Abarth story first-hand, to express the founder's achievements through the performances of his vehicles. Carlo and Anneliese Abarth met at the beginning of the sixties and had a relationship in which their personal lives and careers constantly intertwined, in perfect harmony. They were always together at all important moments and Anneliese always participated in tests and attended the races. She also became Carlo Abarth's muse and a style icon for his creations.
The Abarth myth today is kindled in the heart of every connoisseur through a range of cars and products which express an uncompromising vocation for racing and continual technical evolution, as can be seen from its latest creations: the 595 Yamaha Factory Racing and the 695 Biposto Record. The former pays homage to the prestigious partnership between the Scorpion brand and the Movistar Yamaha Moto GP Team. Always a synonym of "racing" in the automobile segment, indeed for 2015 and 2016 Abarth is the Official Sponsor and Official Car Supplier of the team operating in the FIM MotoGP World Championships (this year it won the three titles up for grabs: Riders, Constructors and Team).
The 695 Biposto Record is a version which celebrates the 50th anniversary of the acceleration record with a G-class car achieved by Carlo Abarth in 1965 in the Monza race track. It features an exclusive "Modena Yellow" livery with "Tar Cold Grey" finishing and an enamelled "695 Record" badge on the side. High performance is guaranteed by the mechanical self-locking differential, combined for the first time with five-gear transmission. The perfect combination of performance, handmade quality and attention to detail, and Anneliese Abarth's continuous commitment to promoting the brand, keep the enthusiasm of the brand's followers high and its founders' memory alive.
Important dates in the story of Carlo Abarth
Behind the brand that has become a legend, more than anything else, there is the work of a true genius of motor vehicles. Carlo Abarth, born in Vienna in 1908, created an almost unprecedented success in the field of motor racing, resulting from his total dedication to the world of motors and his truly prodigious talent, passion and taste for innovation.
One of the main chapters in the history of the brand is the one that links it to the Fiat brand, in a solid, always profitable relationship. However, the story of Carlo Abarth does not begin with cars but with motorcycles: indeed, at the age of twenty years old, he racks up his first wins as a rider at a Motor Thun, then the next year he builds his first customised motorbike under the Abarth brand. Unfortunately, during a competition at Linz, a serious accident forces him to abandon motorbikes but not the desire to challenge himself and his limits: he continues competing with sidecars, an element that he is responsible for taking to the heights of fame, thanks to endeavours such as the challenge with the Orient Express train, which he naturally won. A second serious accident in 1939 forces him to abandon racing completely.
And this is when Carlo Abarth is born again: the true legend now begins his life. In 1945 he moves to Merano and becomes an Italian citizen. Then, after a brief experience in Cisitalia, in 1949 he incorporates Abarth &C. The first vehicle produced is a 204 A Roadster, based on a Fiat 1100, which immediately wins the 1100 sport Italian championship and the Formula 2 racing title.
In the same period, Abarth has the ingenious idea of accompanying the brand's racing activities with a focus on the general public, and begins to create its famous development kits for serial-produced vehicles that increase their power, maximum speed and acceleration. The components of the kit that stand out are the exhaust pipes which, over the years, become a true icon of the "Abarth style". Thanks to the experience gained years before with motorbikes, the Abarth exhaust pipes are technologically state-of-the-art. The first prototypes have a central pipe with a continuous section and side sections in glass fibre, and all the diaphragms are removed to contain the compression of the gas as much as possible. A simple but innovative system which gives its products a clear advantage in terms of performance and an unmistakeable full, deafening noise. In the space of just a few years, Abarth & C. reaches global levels: in 1962 with a staff of 375 people, it produces 257,000 exhaust pipes, 65% of which are destined for export markets.
There are two elements of fundamental importance that determine the success of the Abarth parts and kits: a clever advertising campaign and the brand's racing activities. Indeed, Carlo Abarth introduces marketing and communication techniques that are still used today. In fact, in order to convince car owners to remove the standard exhaust pipe and fit an Abarth one, he thinks up a clever advertising campaign, focusing on an elegant presentation of the product. Advertised with new, revolutionary language in the main newspapers, the exhaust pipe is presented in a black matt version with chrome terminals, and is offered at a much higher price than that of the competition (4,500 lire compared with maximum 2,000 lire). His workers, who initially viewed the strategy with some scepticism, are soon forced to change their minds: success arrives immediately and reaches extraordinary levels. The first 50 units are made for the Fiat "Topolino".
The brand's rise in popularity among motor enthusiasts is endless, and as time goes by it becomes exceptional, reaching its peak at the end of the 1950s and throughout the 1960s. Carlo Abarth builds up the legend of the Scorpion with total dedication and an almost frenetic activity, in which the traits of his genius are visible. The stages of this continuous exploit, of this unparalleled success story, follow one after another in a rhythm which is breathtaking even today. A long march to the sound of records, triumphs, and epochal intuitions that change the world's perception of sports cars.
With a Fiat Abarth 750 designed by Bertone in 1956, the brand breaks a record of duration and speed: on 18 June, on the Monza racetrack, it breaks the 24-hour record where it covers 3,743 km at an average speed of 155 km/h. Then, from 27 to 29 June on the same circuit in Lombardy, it racks up a number of records: the 5,000 and 10,000 km, the 5,000 miles and also the 48 and 72 hours. The success was reported in international circles: indeed the respected German publication "Das Auto Moto Und Sport" dedicated the cover of issue no. 15 on 21 July in 1956 to the Abarth 750. 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). On 11 and 12 May of 1957, at the 24th Mille Miglia, there were no less than 20 Scorpion vehicles present in the 750 category and no less than 16 of these finished the race.
The "roar" of this extraordinary car reaches as far afield as the United States: Franklin Delano Roosevelt Jr., son of the president of the USA, rushes to Italy to personally sign an exclusivity contract for the distribution of these vehicles with Carlo Abarth. In 1958, Abarth completes a true work of art on the new Fiat 500, completely transforming the small utility car and enhancing its potentials to the maximum. In the same year, the brand intensifies its partnership with Fiat, as Fiat commits itself to awarding Abarth cash prizes based on the number of victories and records that the team managed to achieve. An event that forms the basis of the impressive palmares to come: 10 world records, 133 international records, more than 10,000 victories on the track.
The legend continues to grow more and more, becoming a household name. The 1960s are a golden decade for Abarth. "Abarth" becomes a synonym for "speed", "courage", "performance" and "development". And the list of vehicles which have engraved the name of Abarth in the history of motor racing is a long one: from the 850 TC, which was victorious on all the international circuits including the Nurbrugring, to the Fiat Abarth "1000 Berlina" and the 2300 S that strings up an extraordinary series of records on the Monza track despite the harsh weather conditions.
In 1971, Fiat Auto became the sole owners of Abarth, and the last vehicle in which the founder actively participated in designing is the A112 Abarth. During the 1980s the story continues, with famous cars such as the Fiat 131 Abarth, world rally champion, and the Ritmo Abarth.
Sadly, Carlo Abarth passes away on 24 October 1979, under the same sign as his birth sign: the Scorpion.
Carlo Abarth's office
Carlo Abarth's office has been recreated inside the Officine Abarth using the furnishings from the historical head office. A striking place, which contains many of the objects that defined him, such as his glasses and a basket of apples. The founder of the House of the Scorpion followed a strict diet based on apples, the fruit that reminded him of his native Austria, when he was trying to lose enough weight to fit into the driving seat of the single seater in which he personally broke the acceleration record over a quarter mile in 1965.
Turin, 18 November 2015