Bruno Dorigo’s Abarth Obsession

This is what passion looks like. It’s not uncommon to know someone that has a few old cars and a bit of memorabilia locked away in a garage. But when someone opens their garage up as a museum; starts a club to share their passion with the world; and gets their cars out and seen as much as possible—that’s the kind of passion and sense of community that I have a deep respect for. Bruno Dorigo’s Abarth collection is impressive, but it’s his passion that is truly enviable.

Carlo and his Apples… and His Hotted-Up Cars

Carlo Abarth and a fleet

Do you think it’s just because Abarth started with small displacement engines that his name isn’t whispered with reverence by every hot rodder? You’d think that everyone tearing into a Ford flatty or Chrysler FirePower would offer a silent prayer to Abarth and the empire he built hot-rodding Fiat engines.

Why the apples? Under a doctor’s care as part of an intense weight loss program, Carlo apparently adopted a diet of apples and steak. Only apples and steak.

2 Liters. Barely Contained.

Here’s a video you can show your muscle car friends when they claim anything packing less than a 427 is just a dainty little commuter. This Abarth 2000 Sport Prototipo piloted by Max Comelli is a rabid wolverine. 2 Liters… a mere 122 cubic inches. This is why I so love these little lightweight racing machines.

1st in class for this run up a Brescian mountainside from Marone on the shore of Lake Iseo to Zone.

Man, I’ve really shortchanged hill climbs. I’ve always treated them as second class to wheel-to-wheel racing. I was wrong. This is thrilling.

View From the Porsche Abarth Pits

Decision at Scottsdale: Which Little Italian?


We marveled yesterday at the tremendous lineup at Gooding’s Scottsdale auctions next weekend. With this remarkable list of lots crossing the stage, it isn’t easy for pretend-billionaires like ourselves to decide which cars we’ll be raising our paddles for. Then again, if I was a pretend-billionaire, I’d probably be taking all of them home… Let’s make it pretend-millionaire to keep it interesting.

1947 Cisitalia 202 SMM Spider Nuvolari Front

This 1947 Cisitalia 202 SMM Spider Nuvolari is certainly a beautiful option. It is the esoteric hipster’s choice—why bother consorting with common 50’s and 60’s racing cars when you can hang with the racing machines of the 1940’s. Rare stuff indeed. If you’re an Abarth fan, there’s no reason to immediately dismiss the Cisitalia either. Carlo Abarth was still an employee of Cisitalia when the 202 was designed.

1947 Cisitalia 202 SMM Spider Nuvolari three quarter1947 Cisitalia 202 SMM Spider Nuvolari Profile1947 Cisitalia 202 SMM Spider Nuvolari cockpit

Of the handful of 202 variants (including the 202 and 202MM), the Stabilimenti Farina penned Spider Nuvolari is my favorite. It has all the visual hallmarks of what were to become iconic sports and racing design elements. The oval grille, the beginnings of tail-fins, that low windscreen: They all combine beautifully in this gorgeous little package. Just look at those mesh air intakes! Simply stunning.

1960 Fiat-Abarth 850 Record Monza Profile

There’s no such thing as a bad Abarth. Although I prefer my Abarth coupes with the double-bubble up top—I doubt I’d fit in otherwise—There’s no shortage of beautiful curves and sexy angles of this 1960 Fiat-Abarth 850 Record Monza. I particularly like the details on this particular example. At first glance it’s a bit jarring to see a bright red Italian beauty of this vintage without the required Route Borani wires, but I’m a huge fan of these purposeful (and original) pressed steelies. I think they give it a racier look than wires would.

1960 Fiat-Abarth 850 Record Monza1960 Fiat-Abarth 850 Record Monza cockpit1960 Fiat-Abarth 850 Record Monza Tail
If you’re planning on going to the track with one of these machines, the Abarth might be right choice. Designed for the racing class changes of 1960, the 850 was a step above it’s 750 brother and remained competitive in club racing throughout the decade. Sadly, this example is fitted with a later 903cc engine.


1960 Autobianchi Bianchina Trasformabile Three Quarter

With such remarkable company, you might think the 1960 Autobianchi Bianchina Trasformabile here doesn’t even enter into the equation. It certainly isn’t going to compete with the other two on the track—and you might not even consider it an able racing machine. You’d probably be right. The only sporting Bianchini that comes to mind for me is the tale of George Lucas’ crash in one that prompted his exit from the California sports and racing scene.

Even so, I’m a fan. Italy’s take on the practicality and aesthetic that propelled the Mini to huge successes is clearly in evidence here. Of course, the Fiat 500 clearly is what comes to mind when we think of an Italian version of the Mini. I like the Cincuento, but as a long-time supporter of underdogs, I think I’d take the Bianchina if given the choice between the two. And just dig this two tone interior.

1960 Autobianchi Bianchina Trasformabile Front1960 Autobianchi Bianchina Trasformabile Profile1960 Autobianchi Bianchina Trasformabile Interior

Then again, with an estimate of $35-$45,000, maybe pretend-millionaire me would just take home the Autobianchi as a side dish alongside the Abarth or the Cisitalia. What’s your choice?

More information and photos on the lot detail pages for the 1947 Cisitalia SMM Spyder Nuvolari, 1960 Fiat-Abarth 850 Record Monza, and 1960 Autobianchi Bianchina Trasformabile.


The auction is complete and the estimates all pretty much nailed. They all came in at the low to middle of their estimated range. If you picked the Cisitalia, you sir, have expensive tastes. Yeah, me too.
1947 Cisitalia 202 SMM Spider Nuvolari $650,000
1960 Fiat-Abarth 850 Record Monza $89,100
1960 Autobianchi Bianchina Trasformabile $40,700

Decisions… Decisions…

The Creation of Two Masters

1955 Abarth “Spyder” 1100

The 1955 Abarth Competition Spyder was road tested by the Italian Racing Ace Gino Valenzano.

Gino says, “I tested many cars on a 6 Km. twisting course and the Abarth proved to be faster than many sports cars with twice the displacement.”

This new comet is the creation of two Masters: Abarth for the mechanical end and Boano for the streamlined coach work.

It is powered by a 1089 cc. modified Fiat engine with a bore of 68 mm. and a stroke of 75 mm. Compression ratio is 9:1 with 2 Weber side draft carburetors, develops 6 bhp. at 6000 rpm. Weight 1148 lbs.

Tony Pompeo • Phone JUdson 2-3863
1877 Broadway, New York 23, N.Y.

Custom-Designed and Tuned

World Champion drivers choose… Abarth Free Exhaust Systems
Illustrated Porsche 911

Abarth exhaust systems are used on the world championship Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, Maserati and other outstanding cars. Note: Abarth exhaust systems have nothing in common with standard mufflers. Each Abarth is a precision exhaust system, custom-designed and tuned for your exact make and model of car, giving increased horsepower with decreased fuel consumption. Seam welded heavy gauge steel finished in black-crackle heat-resistant enamel with chromed tail pipes. Models available for most cars.

Porsche 1300, 1500, 1600 .. $71.45
Porsche Super 90 ………… $77.90
Porsche 356 C & SC ……… $94.80
Porsche 912 ………………. $94.80
Porsche 212 ……………… $139.60

Speed. Safety. Acceleration. Durability. Braking.

The Scorpion Tales: Abarth

I was contacted recently by a member of Abarth’s digital media team, who sent along this trailer for an upcoming documentary on the Italian engine tuner. This focuses a bit on the re-emergence of the brand alongside the reborn Fiat 500, and promises that Abarth’s tuning will be a part of Fiat racing for a good while now. Perhaps more intriguing to Chicane readers, are the glimpses of historic footage here with the hopes that finished film will feature a great deal of history of this remarkable engineer and his firm.