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1958 Fiat Abarth 500

1958 Fiat Abarth 500

1958 Fiat Abarth 500

To promote their extensive catalogue of Fiat aftermarket products, Abarth created this 500 to showcase show fast they could make an entry level car go. Afterwards, Fiat was impressed enough to order 100 copies and offer them through the local dealers.

Once the Fiat Nuova 500 was launched in 1957, its iconic shape and economic, two cylinder engine made it a staple of Italian motoring. The larger Fiat 600 would later become Abarth’s signature car and its inline-4 engine went on to power Abarths for the extended life of the company.

Abarth applied himself to the small 500 engine, but did not increase capacity, instead opting for more fitness through mild tuning which included a higher compression ratio, larger Weber carburetors, and exhaust system. These changes increased the original 13 bhp from 21 to 27 bhp.

1958 Fiat Abarth 500

While the Nuova 500 had nowhere near the performance associated with the Abarth name, it demonstrated what was possible and probably helped sell more Fiat accessories. This was further emphasized by a particular example which was tuned to 27 bhp using a special hemispherical cylinder head. It was flanked by a huge ‘FIAT ABARTH 500’ script on the sides and was given a seven day demonstration run from February 13th till the 20th at the Monza Autodromo. During the week, it was driven by the many of the press and people associated with building the car. Achieved an average speed of 108 kph, Abarth garnered acclaim by both the local and international press.

After the runs, which broke six records in all, Fiat became interested and offered Abarth rewards for future victories in motor sport. Shortly thereafter, Abarth prepared cars such as the 595, 695 and 1000 to contest the 750cc, 850cc and 1000cc classes.

Bibliography and Further Reading

Braden, Pat & Schmidt, Greg. Abarth Fiat Simca Porsche Street Race Record, Osprey, United Kingdom: 1983.
Cosentino, Alfred. Abarth Guide, Nigensha Publishing, Japan: 1984.
Greggio, Luciano. Abarth, the man, the machines, Giorgio Nada Editoire, Italy: 2002.

In Detail

type Racing Car
built at Turin, Italy
engine Inline-2
position Rear Longitudinal
aspiration Natural
valvetrain Pushrod, OHV
fuel feed 1 Weber 26IMB Carburettor
displacement 479 cc / 29.2 in³
compression 10.5:1
power 19.4 kw / 26 bhp @ 5000 rpm
specific output 54.28 bhp per litre
bhp/weight 59.09 bhp per tonne
body / frame Unit Steel
driven wheels RWD
front tires 125X12
rear tires 125X12
front brakes Drums
rear brakes Drums
steering Worm & Sector
f suspension Independant w/Upper Trailing Arms, Transverse Leaf Springs, Hydraulic Dampers
r suspension Independant w/Upper Trailing Arms, Coil Springs, Hydraulic Dampers
curb weight 440 kg / 970 lbs
wheelbase 1840 mm / 72.4 in
front track 1121 mm / 44.1 in
rear track 1135 mm / 44.7 in
length 2970 mm / 116.9 in
width 33528 mm / 1320 in
height 33020 mm / 1300 in
top speed ~118 kph / 73.3 mph