In 1952, Carlo Abarth (Karl Alberto Abarth, he changed his name after the war) began his famous association with Fiat, manufacturing the Abarth 1500 Biposto upon Fiat mechanicals. Abarth & C. S.r.l was quite successful in hillclimbing and sports car racing in the 1960s, mainly from 850cc up to 2000cc classes, competing with Ferrari Dino and Porsche 904. Hans Herrmann (factory driver from 1962-1965), won the 500km Nürburgring with Teddy Pilette in 1963. A few years later, Carlo promised Johann Abt that he could drive a factory car for free if he won all the races he entered -which he nearly did, winning 29 out of 30, the 30th being a 2nd.
Along racing cars, Abarth also made high-performance exhaust pipes. Later, the company expanded its line in producing tuning kits for normal road vehicles, but mainly for Fiat. The brand was also associated in manufacturing racing or sports cars with Simca & Porsche. In 1971, Fiat bought Abarth, and the racing team was sold to Enzo Osella. It now became the racing brand of Fiat, managed by Aurelio Lampredi, the famous designer of engines. Some models built by Fiat, Lancia or Autobianchi were co-branded Abarth, Autobianchi A112 Abarth being the most famous. It also prepared Fiat Group's rally cars like Fiat 131 Abarth & 124 Abarth. In the 1980s, the name Abarth was mainly used to mark performance like the Fiat Ritmo Abarth 130 TC. The name was pretty much forgotten in the 1990s and in the beginning of this century it was used like a trim/model level on Fiat cars, like the Fiat Stilo Abarth.
Fiat SpA relaunched Abarth in 2007 with the Grande Punto Abarth S2000 & the Grande Punto Abarth. Abarth is to be seen as a semi-independent division to the main Fiat company in the same way the Renault Sport brand is to the mainstream Renault. It is based in the Officine 83, part of the old Mirafiori engineering plant. Harald Wester is next to Alfa Romeo and Maserati, Abarth's CEO.
After many years of sports competing on the continent, a new Abarth 500 GB series was launched in 2010. The competition was to represent a new (high profile) sponsored race series, which was held at Oulton Park in Cheshire, 3 to 5 April 2010. Building on the success of its namesake Italian and European series, the GB competition brought together an excess of talented drivers from across the British Isles, also including four(!) female entrants: Sarah Franklin, Cassey Watson, Vicki Butler-Henderson and Fiona Leggate. The GB series was created by the sponsors for the sponsors, by the competitors for the competitors, and by the fans for the fans. All Abarth Asetto Corse cars are produced in Turin, and are subject to the highest possible standards. They are also checked to a shakedown and subject to a test at the Balocco proving ground.
In addition to the 500 range, Abarth also have a 595 series and a Punto Evo series (including the Punto Evo Supersport with 16v Turbo & 180 BHP!).
What's it worth? Take a look at this Abarth price guide: sold listings for a value indication.