Courtesy of Bonhams
Offered here is an early-production Series III 750 GT. While the first owner is not known, the car was in the hands of Harris J. Sobin by the early 1970s. Sobin, an architect and University of Arizona professor, displayed the Abarth at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in 1992. Dissatisfied with not winning a prize, he commissioned a complete restoration, spending years gathering parts and information from sources in Italy. This car has a correct 750 GT engine, with high-compression Abarth pistons and a stronger, upgraded, mild competition Nardi crankshaft. Breathing through the rare original air filter, the correct Weber 32 carburetor sits on an Abarth intake manifold. Following the restoration’s completion, this Abarth was shown at the 2011 Palo Alto Concours, winning a class award, and then displayed at the invitation-only Carmel-by-the-Sea Concours on the Avenue and The Quail: A Motorsports Gathering during August 2011.  

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1958 Fiat-Abarth 750 GT Series III Double-Bubble Coupe
Years Produced:1958–61
Number Produced:Approximately 600 (all three series)
Original List Price:$2,640
SCM Valuation: $88,500
Chassis Number Location:Tag on wall of engine compartment
Engine Number Location:On block above water pump
Club Info:Zagato Car Club
Alternatives:1962 Mini Cooper, 1958 Appia GTE, 1962 René Bonnet Djet
Investment Grade:B

This car, Lot 61, sold for $112,738 (£86,250, £1=$1.30), including buyer’s premium, at Bonhams’ Goodwood Members’ Meeting sale in Chichester, U.K., on April 7, 2019.

As longtime readers of my work here at SCM know, I am an absolute sucker for small, custom-bodied Italian cars. The Fiat Abarth 750 GT is a favorite and one that I owned many years ago.

I bought mine from an acquaintance in the VSCCA in 1994, with the intention of using it as my vintage race car. The street-to-track nature of the “Double Bubble” appealed to me greatly, as it no doubt did to many of the original buyers of these cars.

A fun, bargain ticket to great events

Then and now, these little Fiat-based pocket rockets have represented the least-expensive way to own a limited-production Italian car with a stellar period competition reputation. These cars are welcome in a host of events across the globe.

Equally, there is a titanic gulf in values between the rare Series I cars and the subsequent Series II and III examples. Just as it is the case with pioneer motorcars, where the changeover from 1904 to 1905 can halve the price, so too does the 750 GT sit astride the great 1957–58-and-beyond divide.

The earliest examples are Mille Miglia eligible, and by extension also can be used in any similar event globally. The Series II cars are very scarce and usually difficult to date with any precision, while all the relatively plentiful Series III cars, most of which were sold in the United States, are easy to distinguish. Mine was a typical example of the type at the time — a Series III car with most of its original interior, but it had lost a number of small trim pieces and body details over a life on — and off — the track.

I paid $35,000, which was the going rate at the time for a running, driving, usable and more-or-less-presentable car. After using it mostly on the street and enjoying it thoroughly for a few years, I traded it along with my beautifully restored 1963 Alfa Romeo 2600 Sprint for my first Lancia, a 1951 Aurelia B50 Vignale coupe.

As I ended up selling the Lancia at auction for a horrifying $11,500 a few years after that, it certainly was not my finest financial hour.

However, I thought I might be able to eventually find another Fiat-Abarth 750 GT for a price similar to what I had paid. Wrong. They first reached, and exceeded, $100k in a sale at Gooding & Company in Scottsdale in January 2014. The best examples have hovered near that mark since.

However, the expected breakthrough to the next level hasn’t happened — yet. The high-water mark for the model at auction came in February 2015, when Artcurial sold a very early 1957 750 GT for $184,205. That car today, in the fine condition it was in then, would handily surpass that number.

The Series III cars, not so much.

Some small changes…

Our subject car had been restored nearly a decade ago to more than a very presentable level, and appeared in the catalog photos to have been well cared for since. There were some details to which closer attention might have been paid for historical consistency — the dashboard had a gloss rather than satin-black finish, the doors were missing map pockets and the usual form for the alloy kick panels and, of course, it had been retrimmed in leather rather than vinyl.

Additionally, in the catalog photos, it appeared that the nose panel was missing the slight raised section to support the front grille trim. The door fit also seemed to be a bit off on the bottom going towards the rear.

On the plus side, it was great to see the bumperettes, spinner hubcaps, side window draft deflectors, rear quarter-window draft covers and canister-type air cleaner all in place — as would be expected on a “deluxe” trim street version of the car.

Sold at par

In terms of values, our 750 GT sold exactly where they have been hovering for years. The seller purchased our subject car at Bonhams’ 2012 Scottsdale Auction for $111,150. The sale here, at $112,738, represents a loss once transport to the U.K. and seller’s premium have been factored in.

One can only hope that in the intervening years, some enjoyment of the car on the road, at shows or simply parked and admired with a beverage of choice, may have been had, in order to ensure some value in use.

In today’s collector-car world, it’s more important than ever to buy a car for what you want it to bring to you before any financial return is considered. ♦

(Introductory description courtesy of Bonhams.)

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