Could Abarth be the most under‑appreciated racing make?
One of the most breath-taking displays at the 2018 Retromobile in Paris is an impressive sea of red (plus the odd silver and white) Abarths, all sourced from the personal collection of avid Swiss scorpion marque enthusiast Engelbert Moll.
Carlo Abarth – born as Karl in Austria 110-years ago, but embraced by the Italians as one of their own – was one of the leading post-war vehicle tuners, working on Porsches, Simcas and Renaults, but most synonymous with Fiat, which successfully revived the revered Abarth brand name a decade ago in 2008.
The staggering collection of Moll’s Abarths at Retromobile concentrate primarily on the Fiat-based road and race cars, with Carlo Abarth’s tuning mastery evident in familiar Fiat road cars such as the 1960s 600 (through a purposeful 1000 TCR-Radiale GRS) and 850 Coupe (in its fearsome 185 bhp twin-cam OT 2000 ‘America’ form, with its exposed front spare wheel).
These are backed-up by a very strong selection of the famous ‘double bubble’ Zagato coachbuilt Fiat-derived coupes, including a delightfully dinky and rare 1959 500-based Berlinetta, plus Carlo Abarth’s personal Allemano-bodied 1965 Fiat 2400 Coupe.
Competition Abarths form the mainstay of the Paris feature though, with highlights including the Pininfarina-built 500 Record that broke 23 international records over ten days and 28,000 kilometres in 1958, plus the unusual cigar-shaped 2500 Monoposto record car of 1965.
Successful Abarth racers include the 1966 1000 Sport SE04, 1968 OT 2000 Periscopo, 1969 2000 Sport Spider Prototipo, 1969 2000 Sport 4-FARI, 1972 Osella 2000 Spider, 1974 Pininfarina 2000 Prototipo, plus a sole Simca-powered 1300 GT Corsa of 1963. The real star of the themed display, however, is a prototype 610 bhp, 6-litre V12 engine, planned for the ‘Type 140’ Fiat-Abarth 6000 Prototipo Le Mans project that was canned late in its development phase due to technical regulation changes.