Abarth was a master of self-promotion, he knew how to hire talented young people whose work he would later appropriate, and he knew how to make a quick buck.


Born in Austria in 1908, Karl Abarth was a European motorcycle champion in the 1930s who fled to Italy during World War II. His firm, Abarth & C., was formed from the remnants of the famed Italian constructor Cisitalia in April of 1949, its first cars being adapted from Cisitalia 202 coupes.
The 205 was much more than a reworked Cisitalia, however, with a specific chassis and more developed engine. Due to better aerodynamics, the new car now reached a top speed of 180 km per hour. Giovanni Michelotti of Vignale designed the coachwork.
At $9,500-the price of a new Ferrari-the 205 was able to boast a near perfect combination of breathtaking looks, individuality and competition heritage. It was designed with the serious and skilled driver in mind, rather than the ordinary man in the street.
Chassis 205-102, pictured here, was imported straight from Italy where it was said to have been first campaigned by the factory, and then a subsequent owner, before being acquired in September 1964 by the well-known Austrian enthusiast and privateer racer, Helmut Fischer. The car was henceforth dubbed the "Fischer Green Star." This Abarth 205A was a formidable street-legal racer, with which Fischer managed to win 14 national championships in his category, and achieve over 130 victories in all. Somewhere in its career, the original Fiat engine was replaced with a 1300-cc Alfa engine and five-speed gearbox, which are still in the car.
Today the car's condition is commensurate with the high standards of its meticulous mechanical preparation, as it still has the basis of the original all-aluminum body, with a modified grille and covered headlights, and retains its superb Borrani wire wheels. The Fischer Green Star would be a fantastic addition to any collection, whether for use in historic racing or as a possible international concours contender.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1950 Abarth 205A
Years Produced:1948-1950
Number Produced:4, 5, or however many your local expert says
Original List Price:$8,500 (or two cartons of Marlboros and a case of Johnny Walkder Black Label)
SCM Valuation:$75,000-$90,000
Tune Up Cost:$400
Distributor Caps:$50
Chassis Number Location:in the middle of front cross-member
Engine Number Location:for Alfa, on stamping side of the block below carbs
Club Info:Abarth Register, 54 School St Suite 102, Westbury, NY 11590-4469
Alternatives:1947-1954 Cisitalia 202 coupe, 1952-1955 Siata 208, 1961-1962 Alfa Romeo SZ-2 Coda Tronca
Investment Grade:C

This 1950 Abarth 205A sold for $105,750 at Christie’s Paris Auction, held on Feb. 14, 2004.
In Europe after World War II, you were lucky to be able to buy a brand new car, and even then, it would come without tires. Rubber was still in short supply, as was fuel. Perhaps because of this, there was a thirst for sporting automobiles and racing, the perfect thrill to make you forget about the just-ended war.
The first new company to quench this thirst was Cisitalia (Compania Industriale Sportiva Italia), formed by Piero Dusio, a successful businessman, a good race car driver, and an all-around nifty car freak. From the start, the company attracted great designers and engineers like Fiat’s Dante Giacosa and Giovanni Savonuzzi, who would go on to work for both Ghia and Chrysler. Piero Taruffi was the test driver and the immortal Tazio Nuvolari raced his final race in a Cisitalia.
The company’s first-born was the D46 single-seater, with removable cycle wings built by Motto. It featured an innovative chrome-moly space frame and was powered by a modified Fiat 1100 engine. (Indeed, Cisitalia was the only firm to be given a blank Fiat block). After its debut in 1946, the D46 won everything in sight, smoking the best in Italy. A two-seat version was made for 1947, the beautiful 202. One of these in barchetta guise almost won the Mille Miglia that year, still with the 60-hp Fiat engine, but with Nuvolari driving.
But Dusio wanted to build a proper Grand Prix car, so he entered into a tangled web of dealing to buy a four-wheel-drive race car design from Ferry Porsche, the money to be used by Ferry to spring his father Ferdinand from a French prison. Consumed with this project, Dusio had no time to run his own racing team, so “Carlo” Abarth, a Porsche associate, was appointed director of racing.
An Austrian who had started his automotive career as the Bianchi motorcycle distributor in Zagreb, Yugoslavia, Abarth had three great talents: He was a master of self-promotion, he knew how to hire talented young people whose work he would later appropriate, and he surely knew how to make a quick buck.
Bankrupted by the enormous costs of the Porsche Grand Prix car, Dusio fled to Argentina in 1949. Almost immediately, Abarth established his company, and produced the Abarth 204A. A lot has been written about improvements and development done by Abarth on the basic Cisitalia 202 design, but I seriously doubt much of it is true. More likely, one such car was built by modifying an existing 202, to be driven by Guido Scagliarini, a club driver whose family financed Abarth’s new business.
No, as I recall it, Abarth 204s were basically re-badged 202s, and the same is true of the 205, of which four are known to exist. In fact, the Cisitalia was not the only victim of the crafty Austrian’s badgeritis-I vividly recall a magnificent Savonuzzi Alfa 1900 (one of two) that carried the Abarth badge, and the ultimate “badge special,” the Ferrari 166 MM Abarth that raced at Monza in 1953 (probably the only 166 that was not converted to at least 212 specs by then).
To look properly at the “famous” Fischer Green Star, first, let’s remember that in the 1960s, putting a more modern engine in an old car was very cool, and was done regularly. If a Giulietta engine and five-speed gearbox made the Green Star more desirable, or so the thought process likely went, then making a personal automotive statement by fitting various “modern” tidbits here and there would have made it doubly so. So Fischer fitted such gaudy accessories as 1960s-era Ford Corsair door handles, some new instruments, additional bicycle reflectors and God only knows what else.
Sadly, by today’s perspective, the result is one sadly butchered car with enough badges and decals to resemble a well-sponsored NASCAR Nextel Cup car. Two huge mirrors (of Austrian Pep Boys derivation, no doubt) are bolted on top of the fenders, a homemade grille and flared-in covered headlights make the front clip useful for recycling only, and a wrong and very crude bumper show just what happens when you beat one of the prettiest car designs in history with the ugly stick.
While the looks of this car as it crossed the auction block almost made me part with a dozen delicious oysters I had eaten for lunch earlier in the day, at least two bidders felt differently. I hope that the new owner will not attempt to restore the car to its former glory-that of a 202 Cisitalia with Abarth badge, or an Abarth 205A (whatever that might be). Keep it as it is, a historical record of one man’s particular automotive taste, take care of the many little things that the Abarth 205A will surely need, and enjoy it.-Raymond Milo
(Historical and descriptive information courtesy of the auction company.)

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