While Fiat was best known during the late Fifties for producing mini compacts that were both inexpensive and very dependable, the Turin based auto giant did indulge themselves a little with a range of variations on their theme, in collusion with Carlos Abarth, a gifted mechanic who imagination and engineering skills could be combined to produce some interesting touring cars designed to fit on Fiat’s small chassis.
The first Abarth to hit the tracks was the Zagato coupe that took a second in class at the Mille Miglia in 1956. The following year went even better when a total of five Fiat Abarth Zagatos succeeded in finishing the Mille Miglia. The Zagato coupe variation, known as the ‘Double Bubble’ because of its unique roof design, became a familiar site on the circuit, only one around twenty were produced.
The initial models, benefiting from Zagato's body design focused on weight reduction, had a weight of 1179 lbs (535 kg) and utilised Abarth's 747cc tuned engine. The power output of 47 bhp at 6000 rpm was achieved through the use of a high compression head and a custom-made exhaust system. In 1956, several prototype cars were manufactured, one of which participated in the renowned 1956 Mille Miglia race and achieved an impressive second place in its respective class.
At the 1958 Paris Motor Show, Abarth unveiled a revised version of their '750 GT Zagato' model, renamed as the '750 Record Monza Zagato'. This decision was made in recognition of the exceptional performance of the record-breaking vehicle at the Monza track event.
The 750'S power train was enhanced with the addition of a Dual Overhead Cam (DOHC) valvetrain, which offered improved performance and efficiency.
Additionally, three-quarter windows were incorporated into the design, providing enhanced visibility and aesthetic appeal.
As well as the 750, there were several other derivatives available for purchase. These included the Fiat-Abarth 850, Fiat-Abarth 1000, and the Abarth Monomille (1000 pushrod). For he 1960 Gran Turismo racing season, the classes were restructured to include two categories: under 700 cc and under 1000 cc. Additionally, national competitions introduced a separate class for vehicles with an engine capacity of 850 cc.
Abarth developed engines that were specifically designed to meet the requirements of the new classes. It is worth noting that the production of the Abarth 700 model was limited, with only a few units being manufactured, possibly just one or two examples. Based on the level of performance enhancements, these vehicles were subsequently designated with additional letters in their names, such as TC or TCR.
The 210 A Spyder was Abarth's inaugural model that utilised the Fiat 600 as its foundation. It made its debut in late 1955, shortly after the introduction of the Fiat 600.
The vehicle's sleek bodywork, designed by Boano, was complemented by the utilisation of the standard 600's bottom plate and a modified engine. The vehicle featured a windscreen with a low-cut design, rear fins that are vestigial in nature, and a single headlight positioned at the centre.
The 633 cc engine provided a power output of 32 CV (24 kW), and there was also a larger option available with a 710 cc engine that offered 39 CV (29 kW). Both engines share several key features, including a 9.5:1 compression ratio, dual exhausts, and a maximum power output achieved at 6900 rpm.
The wheelbase of the vehicle measures 195 inches (4,953.0 mm), while its dry weight is 409 kilogrammes (902 pounds). According to claims, the larger model has a top speed of 150 kilometres per hour (93 miles per hour).
The Abarth 750 Gran Turismo Derivazione, which made its debut in early 1956, marked a significant milestone for Abarth as it became the first Abarth product to incorporate the standard Fiat bodywork. Fiat strategically opted to deliver these vehicles in an incomplete state, a decision aimed at streamlining the process and enhancing cost efficiency for Abarth to implement their performance modifications.
Instead of the original 633-cc engine or Abarth's 710 cc model, the current engine has been expanded to a displacement of 747 cc. This increase in displacement is achieved by widening the bore by one millimetre and increasing the stroke by four millimetres (0.04 and 0.16 inches, respectively).
To enhance the performance of the engine, various conventional tuning techniques were utilised, including the installation of sharper cams, a lighter flywheel, and a larger carburetor. These modifications led to a significant increase in power, nearly doubling it from 21.5 to 40 CV (16 to 29 kW), making for a Tstated maximum speed of 80 miles per hour (129 kilometres per hour).
Like its stable sister the 8V, the 750 was never expected to be a commercial success- instead more of an advertising and public relations tool that would capture the imagination of the Western European public while they crused the autostradas in their 500s and 600s.
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