The Abarth name and iconic scorpion badge have long been synonymous with performance. While Carlo Alberto Abarth built his eponymous tuning company in the heart of industrialized Italy, he was Austrian by birth – born Karl Albert Abarth, though he always had close Italian ties. In his teenage years, Carlo worked for Castagna, designing bicycle and motorbike frames, which led to his successful career as a motorcycle racer – winning the European championship five times before a career-ending crash in 1939. He then switched to designing four-wheeled machines and, shortly after WWII, teamed up with Piero Dusio’s fledgling Cisitalia firm to work on the highly ambitious supercharged 1.5-litre Grand Prix car.
After the failure of Cisitalia, Carlo Abarth set out on his own, sweeping up drivers (including Tazio Nuvolari) and assets from Cisitalia while also turning to the design and production of tuning parts for sports cars. By the 1960s, Abarth & C. was well-established in motorsports, with countless wins to their credit, an extensive catalog of tuning parts, and a series of production-based sports cars based on humble Fiat underpinnings. Intensely ambitious and driven, Carlo Abarth continually expanded his racing operations, building a works team and producing customer cars for various small-bore classes. Abarth soon expanded his production-based line to include a more advanced, highly-focused “SP” series of sports prototypes designed to dominate the new FIA classes for sub-2-liter sports racing cars.
The 1000 SP of 1965 was the first Abarth racing car to feature a bespoke tubular spaceframe chassis. Until then, the company used pressed-steel platforms, typically modified from production Fiats and Simcas. The brilliant engineer Mario Colucci designed the spaceframe chassis, which featured another Abarth first – a mid-mounted engine. Carlo Abarth favored the rear-engine layout for its traction, but Colucci persuaded the boss to adopt a mid-engine configuration for its superior balance and high-speed control. At the 1000 SP’s heart sat the well-proven 982 cc inline-four, based on the humble little 600D sedan, pumped up with dry-sump lubrication, a highly specialized twin-cam cylinder head, and two massive Weber 40 DCOE carbs. While 105 hp at 8,000 rpm may not seem like much by today’s standards, the 1000 SP tipped the scales at just 480kg – just a touch over 1,000 lbs – thanks to the lightweight fiberglass bodywork. It was gorgeous, too – like a scaled-down Ferrari 330 P2. Abarth produced approximately 50 examples to meet FIA requirements, and customers wasted little time getting to the sharp end of their respective classes in road races, hill climbs, and endurance events across Europe.
We are pleased to offer chassis number SE 04/0038, one of the finest examples of the beautiful Abarth 1000 SP extant. It boasts period race history with five appearances at the Targa Florio, was formerly of the renowned Frank Gallogly collection and has been in the care of its most recent owner since 1998. Since receiving a world-class concours-quality restoration in the early 2000s, it has enjoyed a quiet life in a private collection, having only been shown on rare occasions at prestigious events, including Meadowbrook and Amelia Island.
Factory production records from Abarth are scarce, so it is assumed this car was delivered new to an Italian privateer. The known history picks up in 1970 when the car was entered in the 54th Targa Florio. Racing under the Scuderia Etna banner in the Group 6 category for Sports Prototypes under 1000 cc, the SP was piloted by Francesco Patanè, partnered by a driver known as “Oras,” most likely a pseudonym to hide his identity from his disapproving family. Published records show the pairing tried several times at the Targa, though their results were mixed. The car entered the Targa on five occasions, in 1970, 71, 72, 74, and 76. Photos on file show the car in action on the grueling Italian classic, running variations of a marvelous STP Molykote livery. Before its restoration in the early 2000s, the car still wore original entry stickers from 1970, 71, 72, 74, and 76, copies of which are on file.
After its professional racing career, SE 04/0038 eventually came stateside to join the Gallogly collection, where it was stablemate to other significant historic racers, including a Porsche RSK, Porsche 906, and Abarth-Porsche 356. Mr. Gallogly firmly believed in using his cars as intended and raced the Abarth in vintage events, including the Lime Rock Historics and Watkins Glen. In 1998, he downsized his collection, selling several significant cars at the first RM Monterey Sports Car Auction.
Photos from shortly after the recent owner’s acquisition show the car was in excellent condition for a well-enjoyed racing car. Wanting to return it to factory-fresh standards, he commissioned a complete and meticulous restoration. Photos show the restorers took the down SP to a bare chassis, which they refinished in the correct shade of gray. The fiberglass body was painstakingly restored and now looks resplendent in its period-correct, concours-quality Abarth red finish. The 1-liter Fiat-based engine was completely rebuilt with new Arias pistons and more, and is backed by a correct 5-speed manual Abarth transaxle. Details include 13-inch Campagnolo wheels, correct badges and lettering, and proper basketweave vinyl upholstery on the skimpy bucket seats. A new laminated glass windscreen had to be custom-made, and the sale will include two spares plus the tooling to produce additional pieces. The results are nothing short of spectacular, and while the completed project is now several years old, it looks remarkably fresh and is suited for concours display or a return to the circuit in historic motoring events.
Beautiful to look at and to pilot, this Abarth 1000 SP is a superb example of the precision and focus essential to every Abarth racer. Undoubtedly one of the finest restored examples on the market, this marvelous Abarth is ready for its next exciting chapter.
Offers welcome and trades considered
Please note this is a competition vehicle, sold on Bill of Sale only
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