Classic Driver Marketplace
|Abarth 207 |
Park and share on Facebook
|1955 Abarth 207/A|
Engine No. 103P.000 1549681
White and Red with Red Interior
During the early 1950’s, Carlo Abarth’s “Abarth & Co.” was mostly building individually-conceived and financed specials that were intended primarily to be “magnets” to his lucrative business selling speed equipment and appearance accessories for otherwise rather normal cars from major Italian car manufacturers such as Alfa Romeo, Fiat and Lancia, along with Ferrari, Maserati and others.
1949 racing appearances of the new “Abarth” cars continued to acknowledge the Cisitalia origins as the cars first wore the Cisitalia name on the nose with “Squadra Abarth” on the sides of the body. A genuinely new chassis was designed and built 1950 for a new Abarth called the 205. Two cars were built early 1950 and one or two more as the “need” became apparent. The first finished car appeared March 1950 at the Giro di Sicilia and the second appeared shortly thereafter. Both of those cars raced on the Mille Miglia in April 1950 with what is presumed to be the first car having distinctive aerodynamic modifications front and rear with added-on lightweight body panels.
The Abarth 207/A grew out of a market in the USA that was perceived by the Italian-car importer, Tony Pompeo. He saw a demand for a sports-racing car in the 1100cc category that would be more modern and hopefully more robust than the wonderfully nimble but somewhat fragile Siata 300BC-Fiat 1100cc cars that he was importing and selling beginning 1952. In fact, Tony Pompeo & John Bentley made notes on a Siata sales sheet/catalogue showing the changes that would be made during the construction of the new Abarth sports car. It was almost certainly this discussion that inspired John Bentley to place an order for the first Abarth 207/A off the line. In 1954, the Abarth was conceived as a purpose-built racing sports car that should not have the weak points that had been identified in the Siata during racing use.
The Abarth 207/A was to be the first car built by Abarth in a genuine series, albeit a small one. The chassis was a largely hand-formed sheet-steel platform similar in concept to what Abarth had been building since 1950. The 207/A utilized Fiat 1100/103 driveline component that were modified for enhanced performance. The package was clothed in a distinctive body that was penned by Giovanni Michelotti and built by Mario Boano’s new company. Boano had struck out on his own after being ousted from Ghia in (what is called today) a “hostile take-over”. Although there were hopes to build far more than ten cars, the series was limited to approximately a dozen cars that incorporated several variations.
The moderately tuned production Fiat 1100 engine in the Abarth-built chassis was not quite able to outpace the Lotus IX – Climax that appeared in the USA roughly simultaneously and which was then augmented by the Lotus XI – Climax in short order. The racers of the day mostly say that the Abarth seemed to handle better but simply could not match the power-to-weight ratio of the more specialized Lotus. This was a sign of things to come in small-displacement racing over the next many years. Builders like Colin Chapman and John Cooper were willing to build more specialized products that stretched the limits (and intent) of the rules for racing while the Italian builders generally tended towards the concept of “dual-purpose” in their racing sports car designs for many years. Although there were exceptions to this generalization, it is certainly true of Cisitalia, Siata, Abarth and many other builders during the 1950’s time period.
Not unusual for such an effort, the first car sold (chassis N. 001) was delivered later than promised. It arrived in the USA “just in time” to be prepared only minimally for the Sebring 12-hour race that was held March 13, 1955. More lead-time would have been welcomed by John Bentley, the new owner! While the car was withdrawn from competition at Sebring where it was driven by Bentley and Jim McGee, the balance of the 1955 season allowed for a handful of podium finishes in class at Thompson and Watkins Glen, as well as a new speed record at Daytona Beach.
John Bentley, and subsequent owners, Max Goldman, Karl Brigandi, and Carmella Martin went on campaigning the car in period racing events in the Midwest, and by 1957, in California.
By 1986 the car was again active, this time in vintage competition, owned at the time by George Simmons and then Courtney Whitlock who had the car restored by Jim Proffitt before attending several of North America’s premier vintage racing and concours venues up through 2001.
Much more to come…..
Sold on the 28.12.2012
|Simple search for cars|
|Competition Cars Search|