This Zagato-Bodied Abarth Is, Incredibly, Unrestored And Original
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.
– Family owned for the last half-century
– Numbers matching body panels
~43.5 hp, 633 cc overhead valve four-cylinder, four-speed manual transmission, independent suspension, and four-wheel drum brakes. Wheelbase:
Chassis no.: 757464