Abarth 75 years – Passion through Speed

Autoworld Museum, Brussels, Belgium

From 4th July to 1st September 2024

Alongside the Fiat 125 Years exhibition, Autoworld presents Abarth 75 Years – Passion through Speed, a wonderful way of celebrating this anniversary and associating 2 names so closely linked in the history of the Italian automotive industry. Carlo Abarth, the man behind the famous scorpion brand, had speed in his DNA. He knew how to get the performance out of any car, which often translated into success on the racetrack or in rallies.

Born in Vienna in 1908, Karl Albert Abarth moved to Italy at the age of 17 to become a motorcycle chassis designer and motorbikes driver. Having adopted the first name Carlo, he became European champion five times, until a serious accident put an end to his career. In 1934, he beat the Orient-Express on 1300 km from Vienna to Ostend on a home-built motorcycle equipped with a sidecar. After settling permanently in Italy, Carlo Abarth worked with a number of manufacturers, including Porsche, whose cars he distributed in Italy, and Cisitalia.

The Abarth company was founded in 1949 under the emblem of the scorpion (his astrological sign) and carried out several activities: engine and chassis preparation, mainly on Fiat bases but also Alfa Romeo, Porsche or Simca, manufacturing of accessories to enhance car performance (e.g. exhausts) and car building. Abarth became famous for its Abarth 850 TC and then 1000 TC, Fiat 600s with body-built bodies and 850cm3 and then 1000cm3 engines, which took part in rallies, hill climbs and circuits. They are recognizable by their prominent radiators and rear hoods left open to improve rear engine cooling.

Abarth also built sports barquettes for circuits and hill climbs. Abarth was acquired by Fiat in 1971 and became Fiat’s sports division, with the 124 Abarth Rally and 131 Abarth winning several world rally titles. After disappearing in the early 1980s, the Abarth name returned to Fiat to designate Fiat’s sports models, right up to the latest electric 500, which has its own Abarth version. Not sure the “sorcerer” would be very enthusiastic. So, take advantage of this exhibition to discover or rediscover this part of Italian automotive and racing history.

There are also 2 museums largely dedicated to Abarth, the Abarth Works Museum in Belgium and the Château de Savigny Museum in France.

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