The Abarth reputation as a giant-killer was cemented on the racetracks, rallies and hillclimbs of Europe and America, as funny-looking but potent little Fiat sedans stormed to class wins and group championships in event after event.
Based on the Fiat 600D introduced in 1960, the 850 TC, for Turismo Competizione, boasted an 847-cc, Abarth-tuned engine with 52 horsepower capable of a 92-mph top speed. Disc brakes were fitted as part of the enhanced suspension package. From the TC came the 850 TC Nürburgring Corsa, with an additional 16 horsepower and the large front-mounted radiator. This, combined with the propped-open rear engine lid, gave this series of cars their very distinctive look. That raised engine cover, first done in the name of more efficient engine cooling, also had the not-inconsequential benefit of acting as a very useful rear wing, which generated considerable downforce to help plant the rear drive wheels of the car.
Next up was a further development of the block to 982-cc, which gave birth to the Fiat Abarth 1000 TC. Running against the heretofore dominant Mini Coopers in the D Sedan class, they proved a formidable adversary. In fact, they ended up being banned from SCCA competition, such was their record.
The 1967 Fiat Abarth TC Berlina Corsa offered here was discovered by the vendor in 1997 sitting in a back yard in Paso Robles, CA. Part of an estate being liquidated, it was missing its engine and wheels, and parts were scattered about. A two-year search ensued to locate the correct pieces to begin a rebuild, aided by information from Al Cosentino, a noted authority who was once an Abarth importer and racer. As completed, the car is fitted with a full-race, high-performance 1050-cc Abarth engine, said to deliver 110 horsepower at the 8,000-rpm redline. It puts that power through a 5-speed Abarth transmission and a limited-slip, close-ratio differential. An Abarth remote oil filter works with the front-mounted oil cooler and Abarth radiator to keep things cool at speed, and Girling disc brakes haul it down when needed. Koni shocks and Campagnolo Abarth wheels — six-inch in the front and eight-inch in rear — keep things nailed down around corners, as does the evolutionary rear engine hatch, which is a fixed spoiler.
The original 1967 instruments can be seen in the factory binnacle, while a few additional modern gauges to monitor all engine systems have been sensitively mounted atop and below the dashboard. This Fiat Abarth remains a potent racing weapon, having recently been run in VARA events at Las Vegas and Buttonwillow as well as in HSR events at Las Vegas and Phoenix. It has been the winner of the Phoenix Historic Festival “Mini Cooper/Abarth/Lotus Challenge” three consecutive years, and the vendor states it to be “the fastest Berlina Corsa on the West Coast.”