Market Finds: This Zagato-Bodied Abarth Is, Incredibly, Unrestored And Original

This Zagato-Bodied Abarth Is, Incredibly, Unrestored And Original

Andrew Golseth By Andrew Golseth
April 27, 2016
9 comments

Photography courtesy of The Finest

In the United States, Abarth is widely known within the automotive circle as, “Oh yeah, they soup up those ‘miniature-Ferrari’ Fiats, right?” But Abarth’s history is far more significant than just acting as a performance house for Italian hatchbacks.

Carlo Abarth started his lifelong automotive endeavor by building performance exhaust systems for various Italian shops and privateers as early as the 1930s. After World War II, Carlo became the Italian distributor for Porsche after getting acquainted with Ferry Porsche. Around the same time, Abarth became a consultant for Italian race marque Cisitalia after hitting it off with founder Piero Dusio. Shortly after, Cisitalia went bankrupt. As payment for his work, Piero left Carlo Abarth nearly everything in the company’s estate.

Carlo turned the old Cisitalia building into his personal shop where he modified Fiats. Success began to take off when he started offering performance packages to Fiat dealers for the hot-selling 600. The bread-and-butter kits allowed Carlo to fund his own creations, most notably competition cars bodied by Zagato—much like this 1960 Fiat-Abarth Sestrière Zagato.

Abarth unveiled its Fiat-Abarth 750 Derivazione Zagato at the 1955 Turin Auto Show, which Carlo began successfully racing shortly after. At the 1957 Mille Miglia, Abarth took the 1-2-3 finish in the 750-cc division. It’s no surprise that Fiat took notice and offered Abarth a sponsorship, agreeing to pay for every first or second place Fiat-Abarth race result: and the growing pile trophies spoke to their mutual success.

During the era, Abarth built several low volume cars by noted carrozzeria Zagato. This particular model was named Sestrière in honor of the Italian European Rally Championship event Rallye de Sestrière, where Abarth took two class wins, one in 1958 and another 1959.

The aluminum body closely resembles the Fiat-Abarth 750 GT Zagato, but with minor changes throughout, with upright headlights being the most noticeable aesthetic difference. Like the 750 GT, its deck lid features two prominent scoops but the slick top roof is void of the “double bubble.”

Our featured car has a Fiat 600-derived 633-cc single Weber carbureted four-cylinder, mated to a four-speed manual transmission, but their originality to the chassis is unknown and noted as last running in 2010. Other than a missing fuel tank and chassis data plate, the car is said to be mostly original and complete with 44k miles on the odometer, which are believed to be accurate.

This Sestrière has been handed down, being kept within a California family since the early ’60s—the black plates are included. Although it’d greatly benefit from a complete restoration, we can’t help but want to rebuild the mechanicals and leave the aesthetics as they currently are—the weathered (numbers matching) aluminum panels have charm.

Either way, this rare Zagato-bodied Fiat offers a chance to own a piece of Abarth history, and it doesn’t hurt that you’ll look great going down the road in it, either.

History
– Family owned for the last half-century
– Numbers matching body panels

Specifications
~43.5 hp, 633 cc overhead valve four-cylinder, four-speed manual transmission, independent suspension, and four-wheel drum brakes. Wheelbase:

Vehicle information
Chassis no.: 757464

Valuation
Auction house: The Finest
Estimate: $75,000 – $85,000
Price realized: Auction on June 11

 

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Niklas W
Niklas W

My first car was a 1979 Lancia Autobianchi A112 Abarth. Looking back over the last 25 years since then, the sad thing is that was probably the most fun car I’ve had. But now having partially grown up and come to my senses I’m in the process of building my own 60sqm 2 car garage – with the intention to get something from the 70’s to tinker with and drive.

Niklas W
Niklas W

Not 100\% on the 1979 here but definitely the Abarth part.

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger

” In the United States, Abarth is widely known within the automotive circle as, “Oh yeah, they soup up those ‘miniature-Ferrari’ Fiats, right?” I’m not sure what United States … or which automotive circles y’alls talking about son …. but in these here United States of America .. among those of us old enough to of been around when Carlo Abarth was still a force to be reckoned with … as well as those of us of any age who take our GearHeaditis fixation and its history seriously … know that Carlo Abarth was a genius who’s magic touched everything… Read more »

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger

As for the car itself .. assuming all is genuinely in order and the provenance is ironclad and indisputable … its a definite gem !

Christopher Gay
Christopher Gay

I think it’s a generation thing, although I am not nearly as ancient (or ornery) as you, GS, so go figure.

I was always partial to the Abarth/Porsche combo.

Christopher Gay
Christopher Gay

I think it’s a generation thing, although I am not nearly as ancient (or ornery) as you, GS, so go figure.

I was always partial to the Abarth/Porsche combo.

Darel Matthews
Darel Matthews

I can totally see 99.999\% of Americans just as Andrew describes. Just because you’re one of the 0.0001\% doesn’t make his statement inaccurate. Good for you.

Tom DesRochers
Tom DesRochers

Abarth also made mufflers for air-cooled vws. If you’re looking for period speed equipment for a 36hp Beetle, combine the Abarth muffler with a set of Okrasa carbs.

http://www.classicvwbugs.com/2012/09/15/how-to-make-your-lil-36hp-classic-vw-beetle-bug-motor-run-faster-and-stronger/

Christopher Gay
Christopher Gay

Looks like original tires, too. Ha. Very tasty little car waiting to be woken up from a slumber.