Carl Abarth (Carlo) was born in Vienna in 1908 and his formative years were punctuated by the two world wars. In the aftermath of the first he started racing cycles and motorcycles, which resulted in his apprenticeship at Castagna, more notable for their coachworks, designing frames for them, and even constructing his own racing machine built around a Sunbeam 600cc unit. His motorcycle-racing career took off introducing him to the leading figures in motorsport including Porsche and Nuvolari, with whom he became long-term friends and he moved to live in Italy in the early 1930s adopting the Italian version of his name. He achieved numerous successes on two wheels, culminating with him becoming European champion before his career was ended by a near-fatal accident in 1939.

Carlo Abarth’s fame lay principally in performance tuning and specialist work on small-engined cars; however he made a foray into the larger luxury sector of the marker in the late 1950s, producing some few models during a five year period utilizing Fiat or OSCA-based engines. The first examples were exhibited at the Turin Show in 1959 with engines bored out to 1600cc and stylishly bodied by Michelotti initially and then by Allemano and Ellena (formerly Boano). Introduced at the same show were coupe and cabriolet versions bodied by Allemano on a larger 2200 Fiat floor-pan; to be followed two years later by an even larger engined version of 2400cc styled by Ellena, while Allemano was commissioned again for 1963. It is almost certain that these cars were produced as one-off or show-cars only, as so very few seem to have been produced or even survive.

The engine for the later six-cylinder cars was the stock Fiat 1961 production unit of 2300cc, which Abarth modified by boring out to 2400cc and his tuned version was reputed to have produced about 140bhp.

SCM Analysis

Detailing

Vehicle:1964 Abarth 2400
Years Produced:1964
Number Produced:Limited production; could be a one-off
SCM Valuation:$500
Tune Up Cost:$500
Distributor Caps:$120
Chassis Number Location:Metal plate on firewall
Engine Number Location:Right side of block
Website:http://www.car-list/carclub/fiatamerica.html
Alternatives:Maserati 3500GT, Lancia B20

The car pictured here is believed to be the last production machine and made especially for the Geneva Show of 1964. Allemano designed the very stylish coupe coachwork and the elegant lines are perfectly offset by the cast-alloy wheels by Campagnolo. It is sold with three pieces of fitted luggage in black leather.

It was summed up by John Bolster for the “Autosport” Motor Show report as … “a superb high-speed touring car of considerable luxury.” The car has remained in the family ownership ever since and it is offered for sale on behalf of Mrs. Abarth.

This Abarth sold for $39,123 including commissions at the Christie’s Auction held in London, November 30, 1998. The basic package under the skin of this six-cylinder Fiat dates back to 1959. First built as a 2.1 liter and eventually as a 2.3L, these big Fiats were never imported officially, leaving most stateside enthusiasts with the idea that an early Sixties Fiat looked like a 600D or perhaps an 1100D sedan. It’s unusual to find a big coupe like the 2300 as a recipient for the “Abarthization” more often applied to the 750-1000cc, rear-engined Fiats.

Still, this Allemano-bodied coupe fitted with Abarth-style Campagnolo wheels and a warmed-up Fiat pushrod six would be an appealing package to Abarth collectors or collectors of limited production cars with special bodywork. The auction house estimate of $17-25,000 sounded reasonable for a car like this if it was in superb condition (the Abarth family ownership was also factored in to that price range, I’m sure). The buyer who raised his paddle at $39,123 could have bought a Maserati 3500 GT (with Borranis) and something resembling real horsepower. This car was most likely purchased by an Abarth collector rounding-out his collection, and for whom the thrill of owning a one-off outweighed the extra dollars spent.-Michael Duffey.

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