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Abarth to celebrate 70th anniversary at Geneva show


Abarth will celebrate its 70th anniversary by unveiling two retro-inspired vehicles during the Geneva International Motor Show, scheduled for March 7-17 in Switzerland. 

The 595 esseesse (the lower case usage is intentional) pays homage to what the company calls its “Sixties tuning kit” and to the later Abarth 500 of 2009. Meanwhile, the Abarth 124 Rally Tribute harkens to victory in the 2018 FIA R-GT Cup and the European Rally Championship program, it said.

Karl Abarth, a five-time European motorcycle racing champion, was born in Austria in 1908 but moved with his family to Italy soon after World War I, where he became known as Carlo. He was injured in a race in Yugoslavia just as World War II was beginning and remained in that country during the conflict. 

After the war, he became part of the team that developed the Cisitalia Formula 1  race car, and he produced sports racing cars under his own brand. He also specialized in creating high-performance exhaust systems and produced a succession of vehicles based on Fiat components, though with modified engines.

After his death in 1979, his company did rally versions of Fiat and Lancia vehicles and eventually became part of Fiat’s holdings.

Sabelt seats salute Abarth’s 70th anniversary

It was in 1964 that Abarth produced his first Abarth 595 esseesse, equipping the modified Fiat with a Solex 34 PBIC carburetor and special intake manifold, which was cast with the valve cover as a single piece of light aluminum alloy. The result was a 32-horsepower boost.

The car also got rubber ties to secure its hood and an enameled Abarth “mean little scorpion” badge.  There also was “SS” badging on the hood and trunk lid.

When Fiat re-launched its 500 model early this century, Abarth did its version with more power and modified suspension and braking. 

At Geneva, the company introduces the latest version, with 180 horsepower and the sound of the Abarth by Akrapovic exhaust, Brembo front brakes, Koni rear suspension, 17-inch Supersport allow wheels with a Racing White finish, Sabelt 70 sports seats and Abarth esseesse badging.

Abarth will produce only 124 copies of its 124 Rally Tribute

Also being unveiled at Geneva will be the first of a limited run of 124 Abarth 124 Rally Tribute vehicles celebrating 40 class victories in 12 national championships in 2018. The cars will be available in Costa Brava Red or Turini White, both with matte-black hoods.

Larry Edsall
Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.


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