1965 Abarth Simca


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1965 Abarth Simca 2000 GT Corsa 'Campionissimo Europa Montagna'
Coachwork by Abarth/Carrozzeria Beccaris
Registration no. Not registered in UK
(previously registered in Italy: AR 104614)
Chassis no. 136.0056

Rumours of a collaborative agreement between Abarth and the French company of Simca began to circulate in 1961. The French company had begun to assemble assorted Fiat models under licence in France, intending to provide the French motoring market with low-price utility cars. Upon Simca's establishment in 1935 a plant producing Fiat 508 Balillas was set-up at Nanterre, and the Simca Cinq began production the following year, exactly replicating the contemporary Fiat 500.

Late in 1961 the Simca company – which had been founded by Italian entrepreneur Enrico Teodoro Pigozzi, launched its most successful model – the Simca 1000. This was its first rear-engined car and a neat four-door saloon which became the direct competitor of the contemporary Renault Dauphine. The power unit was Fiat 600 derived, emerging as a 944cc 4-cylinder providing 35bhp in standard
form. The Simca 1000 was larger, more roomy, more powerful and faster than the contemporary Fiat 600D, and after its launch at the 1961 Paris Salon its production mushroomed into 1962 to reach 160,000 units for the year.

Carlo Abarth's old Viennese sparring partner, Rudi Hruska, had become a technical consultant with Pigozzi's French venture, and regularly brought Abarth's successes with its Fiat-based cars to the company boss's attention. The powerful promotional platform of competition success reflecting credit upon the source-vehicle manufacturer really appealed and in effect Abarth was then invited to become a test and promotional partner of the French company. Abarth
was to produce a Gran Turismo car using Simca 1000 components as its base, and hence the 'Abarth Simca' 1300 emerged.

Carlo Abarth's team designed a completely new engine for the new venture, using the tried and tested broad architecture of the twincam 1000 Bialbero -bore and stroke dimensions of 76mm x 71mm to displace 1288, compression ratio cited as 10.4:1 and induction via two twin-choke Weber 45DCOE carburettors. The twin overheadcamshaft head disposed its two valves per cylinder at an included
angle of 80-degrees. The new model's floor pan, transmission, steering and suspension were drawn from Simca 1000 production, while the body matched the latest Fiat Abarth Coupé configuration.

The Abarth Simca 1300 was launched in February 1962 at a list price of Lire 3,300,000. Pending its homologation by the FIA as a Gran Turismo the Abarth Simca 1300s contested the sports category and immediately became dominant within its International category. The model's early victories –particularly in hill-climbs – persuaded Carlo Abarth to invest in further development of the Simca-based theme.

In February 1963 the Geneva Salon saw the Abarth Simca 1600 launched with a completely in-house Abarth 1591cc engine with 68.5mm cylinder bore, five-main bearing crankshaft, and – for the first time in Abarth history – twin-plug per cylinder ignition sparked by two distributors driven off the forward ends of the overhung rear-mounted power unit. Technical Director Mario Colucci provided
the car with an upturned tail extremity to the engine cover, creating a spoiler device far more subtle in appearance than Ferrari's contemporary finest on the 250 GTO.

The Abarth Simca 1300s proved capable of running rings around the rival Alfa Romeo Giulietta during the 1962 season, and the 1600 with 138bhp at 7,800rpm and with Girling disc brakes all round was capable of 240km/h – 149mph. These were rocket ships, indeed. But still there was a further step that the Abarth Simca series would take. Abarth's 1963 racing record included a staggering 535
victories, of which 90 were scored by the Abarth Simca 1300s alone. The definitive Abarth Simca 2000 was then previewed at the 1963 Geneva Salon, with the avowed objective of the company building 100 to have it homologated as a 2000cc Gran Turismo contender in 1964.

The twin-cam engine with five main bearings and twin-plug ignition proved extremely effective, and reliable, while gearbox adaptations of four, five and six speeds were introduced to handle the unit's everincreasing power and torque. Massive twin-choke Weber 58 DCOE3 carburettors were adopted – resulting in the new 2-litre Abarth engine producing some 204bhp at 7,200rpm. Top speed was quoted as 260km/h – fully 161mph. These Abarth Simca 2000 GTs were rocket
ships, plus, plus...

The model as offered here proved blindingly fast in competition, most notably with new young works star driver Franco Patria at the wheel – winning the Division 2 Gran Turismo class at the Freiburg - Schaunsland mountain climb and placing second overall to Edgar Barth's works Porsche. The model also won the Enna Cup race around Lake Pergusa on the island of Sicily, works team veteran
Hans Herrmann victorious.

At Sierre-Montana-Crans mountain climb it was Patria's turn to win again in the Abarth Simca 2000 GT, again at Trieste-Opicina and yet again at Cesana-Sestriere. Patria won again in the Coupé de Paris at Montlhéry, only to lose his life there in the subsequent Paris 1,000Kms when rammed by a crashing E-Type Jaguar while waiting to rejoin the track at the pit-lane exit after a routine stop.

The surviving Italian road registration 'libretto' for this particular Abarth Simca 2000 GT offered here – chassis serial '136.0056' – is difficult to read but it survives within the documentation file accompanying this Lot. The car was first registered, apparently as '68753 PT', on April 2, 1965, but it was subsequently re-registered in Arezzo under the serial 'AR 104614' on June 4, 1970, its owner being listed as Bruno Veggenti of San Giovanni Valdarno. On September 22, 1977, the car was sold to Bellancauto SpA – Fabrizio Violati's company – for Lire 300,000. Later, upon the foundation of Fabrizio Violati's Collezione Maranello Rosso museum in San Marino, '0056'as offered here
became one of its absolute star Abarth exhibits.

An interesting note preserved within the file reads baldly "J. RINDT – 11/4/65 ASPERN: GP VIENNA 1st Assoluto GT" and "10/10/65 INNSBRUCK 1st Assoluto GT". This refers of course to none other than the legendary Karl Jochen Rindt, the later-1960s outstanding uncrowned 'King of Formula 2' in Brabham cars who also shone as one of the legendary Formula 1 drivers of the period. In 1965
he was serving his first full Formula 1 season as a Cooper-Climax works team driver, No 2 to team leader Bruce McLaren. He went on to excel in Cooper-Maserati, Brabham-Repo and ultimately Lotus-Cosworth works team cars, until in 1970 he tragically became the sport's only posthumous Formula 1 World Championship Driver after crashed fatally in the Lotus 72 during practice for the Italian Grand Prix at Monza.

He had previously won that year's Monaco, French, British and German GP races in his works Lotus cars – but on his 'weekends off' back in 1965 he had also driven Abarth works team cars. At the Viennese aerodrome circuit at Aspern on April 11, 1965, Jochen Rindt had beaten senior works team-mate Hans Herrmann
to win the 20-lap 52km Gran Turismo race, with Karl Foitek's Lotus Elan third and Manfred Abels' Porsche 904GTS fourth. On October 10 in the Preis von Tyrol 25-lap, 70km race at Innsbruck aerodrome in Austria, Jochen Rindt then drove his works Abarth Simca 2000GT to beat no fewer than three Porsche 904GTS Coupés, driven by no less than future Porsche works stars Rolf Stommelen and Udo
Schutz, with Sepp Greger fourth, and the very quick Alfa Romeo TZ2 of works driver Roberto Businello fifth. These Abarth Simca 2000GTs were indeed in-period Porsche 904-beaters...

Also included within the accompanying documentation file is a photocopy of the extensive Scheda di Omologazione for the model, date-stamped January 13, 1964, together with some correspondence from the Abarth factory, and the car's original 'AR 104614' registration plates.

Despite its long life as a prime exhibit within the Collezione Marnello Rosso display halls in San Marino and at Falciano, '0056' offered here appears to be in really sound general order. Its 4-cylinder twincam 8-plug engine – with those enormous 58mm Weber carburettors - turns freely by hand, the cylinder bores and piston crowns look in very good condition and the water pump also turns freely. It is possible to select all gears and the clutch is operable, but the brakes require a full strip and rebuild prior to the car being used.

This fantastic and potentially extremely competitive Abarth Simca 2000 GT has been inspected on Bonhams' behalf by very experienced marque experts who pronounced themselves "in awe" at its originality and general condition after so long on static display. We recommend '0056' 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 a jewel of the Collection.

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