Carlo Abarth set up his own motor racing and car tuning establishment in Turin in 1949, and over the next 22 years he made his name by producing an enormous variety of tuning and conversion parts, specialising in high performance exhaust systems with special silencers. Naturally, many of these items were fitted to Fiat models, and so it came as no surprise when Fiat bought the rights to the Abarth name when the original company folded in 1971.
Carlo Abarth was retained as a technical consultant by Fiat but, after being in sole charge of company policy for so long, he found it hard to adjust to working in such a huge corporation. Disillusioned, he retired to his native Austria where he died in 1979.
In the meantime, from 1971 onwards, the really hot Fiats all wore Abarth badges. It would have so easy for this to have become a cynical badge-engineering exercise, but fortunately that did not turn out to be the case. The tuned 124s, 131s & Stradas and even the little Autobianchi, really were fast cars; cars of which Carlo Abarth himself might well have been proud. However, they could no longer be the individualised machines of former days, for these Fiat Abarths were built in quantity on assembly lines to a common specification.
For enthusiasts, that was a blessing in disguise. The Abarth name might have lost some of its exclusivity, but the excitement for which it stood was now available to a far greater number of people. A perfect example of this is the introduction of an Abarth version of the modern generation Fiat 500. Already a stylish and award-winning little car, this latest Fiat Abarth looks certain to further enhance the sporting heritage associated with these two famous Italian automotive names.
The reports in this book reveal just how exhilarating Fiat Abarth cars really were back then and also that they still are, for those drivers lucky enough to own one. Fiat Abarth models reported on are the 124 & 131 Rally, Strada & Ritmo 125TC and the 130TC. Included are road, comparison, long term and track tests & new model introductions. Advice is offered on acquiring good pre-owned Fiat Abarth models.