Chassis #: E1351
Engine #: 229/113
The Abarth & Company was a small Italian tuning company founded in 1949 by Carlo Abarth. Within a short amount of time, the business had established itself as a prominent tuner of vehicles. They built a reputation as a manufacturer of exhaust systems, and later turned to motorsports where Abarth designed and built its own racing cars, many of which were extremely successful. During the mid-1950s, their small-displacement sports racing cars were a dominant force.
Abarth & Company was also successful in setting 113 international speed records between 1956 and 1966. Along with bringing international attention to the company, the cars were also renowned and admired for their avant-grade aerodynamic designs.
The company's first record car was a single-seat streamliner introduced in 1956. It wore a design by Franco Scaglione and built by Carrozzeria Bertone. Its first outing was in June of 1956 at Monza where it set several international records. Development continued, and over the months that followed it was fitted with a range of Abarth-tuned Fiat engines that ranged in displacement size from 500 cc to 785cc.
In 1957, Abarth developed another record car, this time working with Torino Coachbuilder, Pinin Farina. Their design was perfected in the wind tunnel at Torino Polytechnic. The first Pinin Farina-designed Abarth record car was a 750cc Monoposto which made its debut in July of 1957. It set a new Class H record after running for 72 hours at an average speed of 165.37 km/h.
That October, Abarth smashed their own three-hour record, with the Pinin Farina-designed Record car, now powered by a new Bialbero engine. The powerplant was based on the Fiat 600 block, and modified with twin Weber carburetors, carburetors, special internal components, and a twin-cam head developed by engineer Gioacchino Colombo. The result was an average speed 14 km/h faster than what the team had achieved with the earlier pushrod engine.
The final Abarth built streamlined record car was built in 1960. It once again wore a design by Pinin Farina and was powered by Fiat-based engines. The design was lower and longer than the preceding record cars, had a canopy top, and was developed in the wind tunnel. September 22, 1960, the 750cc Monoposto was taken to Monza where it set Class H records with Grand Prix driver Umberto Maglioli driving.
This particular example is a Monoposto da Record that was nicknamed 'La Principessa,' or 'The Princess.' It was Abarth's primary 1,000cc car and was powered by the Type 229 Bialbero engine that offered 108 horsepower and gave the car a 220 km/h top speed.
'La Principessa' ran at Monza during the Glass G record runs held between September 28th and October 1st of 1960. The Abarth team was led by General Manager Renzo Avidano and the car was driven by the factory's best drivers, including Giancarlo Baghetti, Mario Poltronieri, Alfonso Thiele, and Umberto Maglioli.
During the multi-day event, a heavy rainstorm passed through Monza. Maglioli, the most experienced driver, was put in the car to complete the 72-hour record. Unfortunately, the Abarth hit a puddle at the entrance to the north curve, causing the car to aquaplane and skid off course, coming to a stop against an embankment. The car was damaged but Maglioli was unhurt. Maglioli climed out of the car, and began pushing the Monoposto along the track. When La Principessa and Maglioli crossed the finish line, they had established a new 72-hour record, covering 13,441.498 km at an average of 186.867 km/h.
La Principessa would leave Monza after seeing eight new Class G records. It was later repaired and displayed as the centerpiece of the Abarth stand at the Torino Motro Show in November of 1960. After its racing and show duties were completed, it entered the Pinin Farina collection, and mostly remained out of the public eye.
Around 1970, it entered the current Italian family ownership.
This car set the 12 hour, 24 Hour, 48 Hour and 72 Hour records in the Class G category. It also has the 2,000 and 5,000 mile, along with the 5,000 Km and 10,000 Km records in the Class G category. It has spent most of its life in static storage.
In 2008, it was exhibited during the Karl Abarth centenary celebration in Torino. It has been shown on only one other occasions - at Techno-Classic Essen in April of 2016.By Daniel Vaughan | Oct 2016