1962 Abarth 1000


  • Year of manufacture 
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1962 Abarth 1000 Sport 131-MC Spider Tubolare
Coachwork by Abarth/Carrozzeria Beccaris
Chassis no. 131-003

When Mario Colucci arrived at Abarth & C in 1960 he was fresh from the experience of design involvement with the Alfa Romeo TZ. From that basis what the Italian press described as "a new constructional philosophy for racing cars" was launched, introducing multi-tubular spaceframe or 'trellis' chassis structures and with the power unit centrally-mounted within the wheelbase. This permitted the installation of the Abarth twin-cam 4-cylinder engines of varying capacity, dependent upon the demands of differing regulation categories, race circuits, against-the-clock mountain climbs, etc.

Under Colucci's direction the first Fiat Abarth Spider Tubolare was first raced in 1961 as the minimum sports-prototype racing car for the most committed of factory and private owner/drivers alike. Simplicity was Colucci's signature in the little Spider Tubolare's configuration, with hand-beaten aluminium body panels comprising the hinged nose and tail 'clamshell' sections, separate sills and cockpit door panels, the whole body very much taking its lead from the already long-established practices of such British sports-racing car manufacturers as Lotus, Lola, Elva and others. We cannot be certain but we believe the body was made to an Abarth in-house design by the local specialist Carrozzeria Beccaris....but we stand to be corrected upon this attribution.

From very early in the Spider Tubolare's career an Abarthdeveloped five-speed transaxle gearbox was tried, developed from the standard production Fiat 600 system. Cast-magnesium road wheels made by Amadori and later Campagnolo were promoted as having been designed by Carlo Abarth himself. The original Colucci-designed Abarth Spider Tubolare was built upon a 2040mm wheelbase, powered by a Bialbero 4-cylinder twin-cam engine displacing just 747cc, the car's target being the relevant capacity class at the Le Mans 24-Hour race, no less. With its little engine producing some 75bhp at 7,300rpm the Spider Tubolare was claimed to be capable of 200km/h - c. 124mph.

A 1456-1459cc 4-cylinder engine derived from that of the Simca Abarth 1300 would later be used in Spider Tubolare sportsprototype chassis into the summer of 1962, while within Italian and European mountain-climbing circles the 1000cc twin-cam unit proved a most popular option in this ultra low, ultra-light little skateboard of a chassis/body unit.

Within the documentation file accompanying this example – chassis number '131-003' – there is a letter dated June 27,1997, from fellow Abarth enthusiast and collector Engelbert Moll of Bellach, Switzerland, to Fabrizio Violati providing a history for this machine. We understand that it was manufactured in the Autumn of 1962 with one of Mario Colucci's experimental 1459cc power units, and was intended to be driven for the first time in Switzerland at the Marchairuz hill-climb on September 31 that year, driven by either Gianni Balzarini or Hans Herrmann for the factory team. It was later re-fitted with a 1000cc engine and entrusted to Vittorio Venturi, Engelbert Moll attaching the photograph used here showing Venturi competing in the car during the Vergato-Cerelio mountain climb, in 1963.

The same documentation file also provides a rather battered but nonetheless interesting Abarth & C – Torino – Certificato d'Origine for 'Abarth 1000 Sport – Chassis N. 131/003'. The Certificate is No 264 and it is stamped Pubblico Registro Automob. Torino – January 11, 1985. A letter from Autofficina Poggi – the well-known Italian competition company – to Fabrizio Violati dated October 12, 1977, enclosing a minor bill for work upon the car. The inference of course is that Fabrizio Violati owned this wonderful miniature sportsprototype from the mid-1970s which would indicate a last long-term ownership exceeding 37 years...

Studying this lovely and most desirable little gem today it is evident that the chassis includes alternative engine mounting points within its 'centrale' engine bay, which would match nicely with the engine change from 1459 to 1000cc power unit previously cited.

Everythi ng about the car today breathes the theories and practices of the 1960s, from the right-side cockpit fuel tank to the dry-sump tank behind it on the right-side of the midship engine bay, the wet-sump engine installation which has plainly been in situ for long decades past and the lengthy Fiat 600D-derived transaxle spearing aft from the little 1-litre engine.

Upon more detailed inspection of the car as delivered to BONHAMS it is evident that the engine turns freely by hand and that its cylinder bores – when viewed through the spark plug orifices by introscope - are in good condition. The water pump appears to be seized and the engine electrics are presently incorrectly wired, although this is very easily corrected. The car's all-disc braking system is non-operational, the master cylinder being currently seized, so a system strip and rebuild is needed before the car could be used. The clutch is also apparently seized and non-operational, but it is possible to select all gears.

This outstanding example of the 1-litre Abarth sports-prototype has been inspected on BONHAMS' behalf by very experienced marque experts who much admired its originality and general condition after so long on static display. We recommend '003' here as being worthy of the closest consideration. Expert inspection and re-commissioning will obviously be necessary before a new owner should consider running it in earnest – but this is indeed another little jewel of the Collezione Maranello Rosso...

Please note this vehicle is subject to import tax should it remain in the EU.