Lack of records makes it very difficult to tell a factory Abarth from one built by Uncle Giorgio’s Garage
(Note: In the auction catalog, there was an addendum that declared that this particular car was in fact a Fiat 750 rather than an 850. As its model year was appropriate for an 850, we can only assume that an earlier 750 engine had been retrofitted. The historical information about the 850 model presented by the auction company is correct and we have not changed it. Where the auction company refers to this particular car, we have changed the nomenclature from 850 to 850/750. As indicated in Osborne’s analysis of this sale, this type of alteration has minimal effect on the value of the car.-ED.)
Fiat and Carlo Abarth have such a convoluted history, it’s hard to believe joint planning didn’t take place at conspiratorial “Godfather” dinners in some restaurant wine cellar. This story is no exception.
Fiat debuted the “D” version of the 600 in the beginning of 1960, shortly after Abarth began designing the 850 with grand touring competition in mind. Introduced in 1961, the Fiat Abarth 850 was essentially a 600 sent directly to Abarth without front brakes, crank-shaft, carburetor, exhaust and some other minor parts. Abarth then fitted the cars with modified components and sold them for the incredibly low price of just 850,000 lire ($1,282).
This price was only a 25% increase over the base price of a Fiat 600, a very good deal considering the 850 had three and a half times more horsepower than the miniscule 600. Aside from the beefed-up engine, Abarth also upgraded the brakes and tightened the suspension. On request Abarth could supply a sports-style steering wheel and add a rev counter and an oil temperature gauge to the normal instruments. In order to obtain the homologation of the touring category, Abarth had to reach a monthly production of 150 units. This meant that it had to guarantee the minimum number envisaged-1,000 units.
This Fiat Abarth 850/750 Berlina was released from the Italian classic car collection of Franco Manetti and recently arrived in the United States. The car has undergone a cosmetic restoration, with an interior that includes new leather seats and new Fiat floor rubbers.
The engine and transmission have been inspected and tuned up to ensure optimum performance from the 850/750-cc motor. All electrical and mechanical systems have been thoroughly tested and are in working order. The 850 is a very fun car to drive as it can be tossed around and driven to the edge without having to go extremely fast. This car is simply a blast to drive and is undoubtedly worth the money in every respect.