Abarth : General Abarth: 5.4.2009
Karl (Carlo) Abarth who was originally born in Austria founded a car tuning/racing company carrying his name in 1949. In the early years Abarth built racing cars and tuning kits based on Fiat and Simca etc. cars.
Abarth was sold to Fiat in 1971 and it was nominated as Fiat's racing team. The Fiat 124 Abarth and the legendary Fiat 131 Abarth Rally rally cars were produced during that period. One of the famous 131 Abarth Rally drivers was a Finn Markku "Maximum Attack" Alen and to me personally the 131 Abarth was the first Abarth which I remember when I was a young boy and followed intense fights between it and the Ford Escort on the rally stages.
Fiat 131 Abarth Rally driven by Markku Alen
Abarth was however more generally known as a maker/tuner of small cars from a period prior to the 131 Abarth. In the late 50's and early 60's Abarth built many versions of the Fiat 500 and the 600 models like the Abarth 695 SS, the Abarth 850 TC and the Abarth 1000 TC.
Abarth 695 SS © Motorpress Iberica 2006
Abarth 850 TC
The 1990's and early 2000's were quiet times for Abarth and during that period Fiat used Abarth mainly as model name for some very slightly modified Fiat models.
In 2007 Fiat decided to resurrect Abarth brand and introduced the Abarth Grande Punto. Another model carrying Abarth brand was introduced in the following year namely the Abarth 500. In connection with the resurrection of the Abarth brand Fiat marketed it as a separate brand even though both Abarth models were actually based on normal Fiat models.
Abarth Grande Punto which was introduced in 2007
Abarth : General Abarth: 5.4.2009 The resurrected Abarth started its operations in 2007 and Fiat Group marketed Abarth as separate brand even though they were based on normal Fiat models. The first Abarth model was an Abarth Grande Punto which is produced in Italy at the same production lines as the regular Fiat Grande Punto. The other model is Abarth 500 which is manufactured at the same Polish factory as the regular Fiat 500 models. The headquarters of Abarth is located in Turin, Italy where the Abarth racing team is also located.
The production line of Abarth 500 and Fiat 500 models in Tychy, Poland
The Abarth racing team premises in Turin
The Fiat dealers aren't automatically Abarth dealers, instead the Abarth sales are located in separate premises which however are located in the same place as the Fiat dealers in many cases. Abarth demands that the sales premises of the brand meet their requirements and the sales premises have to be separated from the premises of the other brands.
Abarth doesn't have dealers in any of the Nordic countries at the moment (March 2009). The first countries where the Abarth sales were started were Italy, Germany, United Kingdom, France, Switzerland, Austria, the Netherlands and Greece. The sales have started later on in Luxembourg, Spain and Poland among others. The number of dealers is quite limited at the moment and there is only one dealer for each country in the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. In Germany there are approx. 20 dealers and in Austria 3 dealers. In addition to the dealers there are some official Abarth garages in some countries which can carry out repairs to Abarth cars.
It remains to be seen what will happen in the future for Abarth but there have been rumors circulating around related to a small Abarth roadster. We'll see about that but at least the start of the new Abarth looks promising. The situation in Finland is uncertain and there is no knowledge of possible official Abarth distribution here in Finland.