Fiat's Abarth Competitions Centre

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Abarth is the largest manufacturer of speed equipment that I have visited. The writer’s previous visit was in the mid-sixties, when the company’s sports/racing machines and little two-seater road cars were flourishing alongside a phenomenal output of those big-bore exhaust systems. In 1971 Carlo Abarth. who established the Company in 1949 to privately race Cisitalias and manufacture exhaust systems, sold out the factories to Fiat.

General Manager of the Abarth organisation these days is a former member of the Mille Miglia organising team, Sig. Renzo Avideno, President of the reconstituted Company is former Ferrari and Fiat engineer, Aurelio Lampredi, who played such a major part in the conception of Ferrari’s larger V12 motors before he joined Fiat in 1955. Working on the more normal Abarth goods intended air retail sale are approximately 250 people (roughly the same as FAVO when that was established while another 60 personnel are devoted solely to the task of acting as Fiat’s factory competitions department.

Also included in the competitions brief is the study of suitable new Fiat models for competitions; the results of such study could be seen when we called. The 124 Spyder model has reached the end of its competition career— though that’s the last thought that would cross your mind when looking at our pictures, depicting a multitude of spare bodyshells and complete cars—and the successor is to be the boxey 131 saloon.

In order to homologate the 131 in the best possible trim, Abarth will produce their own production version. Like the 124 Spyder that it replaces, this special 131 will have an Abarth-manufactured five-speed gearbox, independent strut. rear suspension, ventilated four-wheel disc braking, and a large number of lightweight panels, possibly even extending to Perspex sideglass. The aim is to have the car ready for homologation, and International action,within the European Rally Championship, by March 1st next year. In rallying guise the engine, like the Lancia Beta Coupe’s. a development of the Fiat twin cam unit. should boast 220 horsepower. This will be extracted from a Kugelfischer fuel injected 2-litre, 16-valve engine.

In the recent past Abarth’s name has always been primarily associated in our minds with racing. Remember the dinky, wheel-lifting rear-engine Topolinos with 1-litre engines, as well as Chris Craft’s 2-litre Sports Car title in 1973? The advent of full Fiat control brought a new rallying spirit to the sprawling collection of aircraft-style hangars that comprise Abarth. In 1968 and ’69 Abarth had been involved in some technical support work for Fiat owners using their vehicles in rallying, but by 1970’s Alpine Rally, a team of Fiat-Abarth 125 Twin Canis was entered. In the Following year 147-b.h.p. Group 1 Fiat 125s were campaigned, but it was the introduction of the lightweight Abarth 124 Spyder that gave them the chance to be a little more ambitious in their programmes. The result has been to grasp the European Rally Championship titles for Rafaele Pinto and Maurizio Verini (1972 and ’75 respectively); two Outright wins on the TAP Portugal Rally (scored by Markku Alen and Pinto) and second place in the World Rally Championship (to their stablemates at Lancia) both this year and last.

The background politics to the feud between Lancia and Fiat would make Machiavelli proud of his present-day countrymen. Part of their differences, aside from a proud tradition of independence, comes from their reasons for competing. Lancia have a sporting image to maintain, rather like BMW and Alfa, but Avideno comments that Fiat’s Commitment is to “proving the car’s strength.”

Sig. Avideno continues: “Racing is for those with cars homologated to win outright. We do not have these sort of cars, so we rally. I tell you what I think about the rally regulations: I say rallying should be for the big manufacturers of cars, not the smaller GT-makers. Porsche and Stratos are too sophisticated, and there are those who make these sort of cars only for competitions. I think rallying must be kept for normal cars that you can find anywhere. Also rallying was only on bad roads, now we have it on smooth asphalt too. It’s no good, it’s not natural. For us, it is best on the rough. where the car can be tested to the limits.”

At this point Lampredi interjected that, “For me, I am sure that only Formula One and rallying are getting the bigger crowds in motor sport : the rest are going down, and this is why we cannot get the money for things like sport prototypes”.

For the immediate future this year’s objective is to thoroughly develop the 131. hopefully so that it is capable of taking the major honours the following year. “But, of course”, says Avideno, “we would next like to see a Fiat win the Monte Carlo Rally… and maybe the World Championship!”—JW.

You may also like

Related products