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Still rocking at 70 – Abarth Days 2019
'Abarth Days 2019’ celebrates the Scorpion Brand
2019 marks a significant landmark for the Italian name with the scorpion symbol which, at 70 years old, still ignites the passion of enthusiasts around the world.
The company was started by Carlo Abarth and motor racing driver Guido Scagliarini in Bologna, back in 1949. Carlo’s star sign, Scorpio, was selected as the logo – and the iconic scorpion brand was unleashed. To recognise this milestone, all Abarth 595 cars made from April this year have had a 70th Anniversary badge added to them. The 595 Competizione seats have also got 70th Anniversary stitching.
Carlo Abarth’s career began with motorbikes, racking up his first victories on a Motor Thun. He also made his first bespoke motorcycle under the Abarth name. Alas, during a race at Linz, a crash put him off two-wheels – although only a for a while. He got back in the saddle – but this time with sidecars. He made these machines famous in feats such as the duel against the Orient Express – which he was victorious at, of course. Another smash in 1939 forced him to leave racing entirely, which paved the way for a new chapter.
In 1949, the first car Abarth manufactured was the 204 A Roadster, based on Fiat’s 1100. But soon Carlo figured he needed to add to his income with the production of his now-legendary tuning kits. These were made to boost power in mass-production cars. So, exhaust parts were produced and supplied to Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, BMW, Ford, Jaguar, Volvo, Alfa Romeo and Lancia. It was a success, and in just a few years, Abarth was a global name.
In 1956, the Fiat Abarth 750, designed by Bertone, broke the 24-hour record at Monza, travelling 3,743km at an average pace of 155km/h. After this, on the same race circuit, it achieved other records: the 5,000 and 10,000km, the 5,000 miles, as well as the 48 and 72 hours. The same car was designed by Zagato in a couple of different versions: the Fiat Abarth 750 GT Zagato (1956) and the Fiat Abarth 750 Zagato (1956).
In 1958, Abarth produced a true work of genius on the Fiat 500, totally altering the small car and improving its abilities to the max. In the same year, the marque strengthened its collaboration with Fiat, with the company paying Abarth based on how many victories the team achieved. It was motivation enough to get Abarth on a winning streak, with over 10,000 triumphs on track. This led to the brand becoming the buzzword for speed and performance – and in 1971, Fiat Auto became the sole owner of Abarth.
Carlo Abarth passed away on 24 October 1979, spookily under the star sign of Scorpio. By the time he died, he had produced over 200 models, all of which wore the Scorpion emblem.
The Abarth badge appeared on a few Fiat special editions in the 80s and 90s including the Stilo and Strada. But in 2008 the marque was reinvented, with a new range created for fans. Models such as the Abarth Grande Punto (2007), Abarth 500 (2008), as well as racing variants of the Abarth 500 Assetto Corse and Abarth Grande Punto Rally Super 2000 were built. Since then, new versions have been ushered in. These included the Abarth 695 Tributo Ferrari (2010), the Abarth 595 Yamaha Factory Racing (2015), the Abarth 695 Biposto Record (2015) and the Abarth 695 Rivale (2017). In 2016 the Abarth 124 spider and the Abarth 124 rally joined the model line-up, followed by the Abarth 124 GT (2018).
The latest model to be launched is the Abarth 695 70th Anniversario special edition – unveiled at ‘Abarth Days 2019’, the biggest ever Abarth meeting in Italy. More than 5,000 fans and 3,000 Abarth vehicles turned up. The special edition was the undeniable star of the show, with its green Monza 1958 racing colours, its grey body-kit, and spoiler. The “Spoiler ad Assetto Variabile” helps stability at speed and boosts performance. It’s adjustable, just like in the races of yesteryear where it was common to see the mechanics alter the spoiler in the pits. It can be moved in 12 different positions – and in the top setting, the spoiler enhances the aerodynamic load by 42kg at 124mph. Just 1,949 models are being produced and are available to order now.
The venue for Abarth Days 2019 was MIND (Milan Innovation District) where a racetrack was prepared, offering a rapid succession of bends and chicanes. Fans were able to drive their Abarths on the track, test-drive the Abarth 70th Anniversary line-up and get hot laps in the 124 rally. The numerous activities on offer characterised the event. There was a display of the cars behind the history of Abarth, the fresh Abarth range, and driving sessions with professional instructors.
With plenty of fun, heritage and performance, Abarth Days 2019 certainly confirmed its position as the most anticipated event for Scorpion enthusiasts across Europe, eager to share their appetite for the Italian marque.
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