The Fiat 124 Abarth Rally was a high-performance homologation special based on the 124 Sport Spider. First introduced in 1966 at the Turin Show and based on a shortened 124 saloon floor pan and running gear, the attractive Pininfarina-styled Sport Spider and its derivatives would prove an outstanding success for Fiat, over 200,000 being sold before production ended in 1982.
The Abarth Rally first became available in November 1972, having been seen previously in prototype form at the Geneva Salon. Extensively revised with rallying in mind, the Abarth Rally featured independent rear suspension by McPherson struts, wider light-alloy wheels, flared wheelarches, fiberglass body panels, a 5-speed gearbox, limited-slip differential, an internal roll-over bar, rigid hard top, competition seats and a revised dashboard.
The engine was a 1,756-cc twin-cam four producing 128 bhp in standard trim with 170 bhp available in full rallying tune. Homologated initially in Group 2, the Abarth-modified 124 Spider served as Fiat’s frontline rally car throughout 1973, achieving one World Championship victory. Re-homologated into Group 3 for 1974, the Abarth Rally picked up another World Championship win and several top-three finishes, but its finest hour would come in 1975 when, this time competing in Group 4, Maurizio Verini won the European Rally Championship at the wheel of the final, 16-valve version.
Representing the 124 Abarth Rally in its ultimate evolution, the car offered here features the 16-valve cylinder head and Kugelfischer mechanical fuel injection. The original Italian libretto lists the Fiat Auto Spa Rally Team as the first owner, and the second (from 1977) as Mr. Vanni Tacchini. Tacchini campaigned chassis 0092696 with his co-driver Gianti Simoni in the 1977 Rally di Sanremo and the Rally della Lana.
The following year, Signore Tacchini got married, and for the following 30-odd years the car was stored in an air-conditioned garage. At some time, in his absence, the garage door was replaced with a narrower one, which was the reason the car was not moved until he decided to free it in time for the 40th anniversary celebrations of his old Scuderia Tre Gazzelle.
Tacchini asked Domenico Fasano (ex-Abarth Racing Department) and Giovanni Baldi, another ex-Abarth engineer, to carefully recommission the car. Needless to say, the body did not need to be touched, as it had been remarkably well preserved, possessing a beautiful patina that could not be replicated. The Fiat was campaigned again from 2009 onwards on numerous historic rallies in Italy, among them the 4 Regioni, Lana Storico, Memorial Gino Macaluso, Memorial Zonca and the Valpantena. Its last outing was at the Revival Rally Valpantena in 2012.