The History of Abarth
Karl Alberto Abarth was born on November 15, 1908 in Vienna, Austria, under the astrological symbol of the scorpion that would later become the company's logo. His engineering talent was quickly recognised and, at the age of 16, he gained an apprenticeship with Degan in Italy, designing bicycle and motorcycle chassis.
At 19, he returned to Austria, and a job with Motor Thun Motorcycles preparing their race bikes also lead to a position as test rider. When the factory rider fell ill, Karl was offered the opportunity to ride in his place. Much to the annoyance of the factory riders, Abarth set the fastest lap time twice in a row during testing but, come race day, he was forced to ride a replacement machine that suffered a mechanical failure mid-race. Karl suspected sabotage, and left Thun in disgust.
Given a taste for racing, he bought a second-hand British motorcycle which he stripped piece by piece, reducing weight and making improvements along the way. His first race win came at Salzburg on 29th July, 1928, and was even more astonishing considering he competed with no factory support or mechanical assistance. A year later, he built his first motorcycle to wear the Abarth name, and by his mid-twenties, he had become five-time European Champion. Fiat Abarth Manuals,Fiat Abarth User Manuals,Fiat Abarth Owner's Manuals,Fiat Abarth Service Manuals,Fiat Abarth Maintenance Manuals.
After a serious accident in 1930 in Linz, Austria, he abandoned solo motorcycle racing. His competitive spirit compelled him, however, to build a motorcycle sidecar in 1933 which he famously raced against the Orient Express on the 1,300 km stretch from Vienna to Ostend. Although his first attempt was dogged by an electrical fault that caused him to lose the race by 15 minutes, his second attempt just two weeks later was a victory, beating the Express with 20 minutes to spare.
A second, more serious accident in 1939 during a race in Yugoslavia left him hospitalised there for a year, and forced him to withdraw from racing altogether. He stayed in the country during the war, working in Ignaz Vok's Ljubljana factory experimenting with ways to run internal combustion engines on kerosene - important work, given the scarcity of petrol at the time.
After the war, Abarth returned to Italy and changed his name to the more Italian-sounding Carlo. He re-established contact with old friends in the Porsche family and became the Italian representative of the Porsche design studio. Abarth made contact with legendary racer Tazio Nuvolari, who in turn contacted Piero Dusio, an industrialist, president of the Juventus Football Club, and the financial backing behind the Cisitalia Company that had been enjoying considerable success with its Cisitalia D46 racer.
Dusio commissioned Abarth and Rudolf Hrushka, an ex-Porsche engineer, to build a revolutionary new single-seater based on work by Dr. Ferdinand Porsche. The Cisitalia 360 boasted a complex four-wheel drive system and a midmounted, twin-supercharged 1,493 cc flat-twelve engine producing well in excess of 300 bhp.
During this time however, Dr. Porsche, the brains behind much of the car's design, was being held in a French jail having been accused of collaborating with the Nazis. Ferry Porsche used the money raised through his participation with the Cisitalia project to pay the sizeable bond to release his father.
Unfortunately, the car's complexity accelerated the drain on Dusio's finances and in 1949, Cisitalia entered receivership. Dusio moved to Argentina, taking the prototype car with him before it could turn a wheel in competition. Carlo, having received no payment from Cisitalia, took the remnants of the company and founded Abarth & C. SrL on 31 March 1949, with racing driver friend Guido Scagliarini. The company's logo was, of course, Carlo's birth sign - the scorpion.
The company's stated purpose was: "the production of cars and complementary aggregates for sport and racing cars, as well as changes and improvements to sports and racing cars, servicing and manufacture of mass-production tools, agency services and the sale of fuels for race cars."