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Abarth 205 GT Berlinetta: three and a half meters of grandeur

Hans-Dieter Seufert
Abarth 205 GT Berlinetta
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N achkrieg, Italy, motorsport - time travel in one Labyrinth technical and stylistic daring. How busy the Italian creative people were from the collapse, honest car buyers in Germany during the economic miracle had little idea. Fiat was on the Neckar, and Karmann Dschia - that was sports car enough.

Carlo Abarth's debut and the happiness of rebirth

Who knew more about Carlo Abarth in the early 1960s? There were stickers and gear knobs with the scorpion, also wonderful forbidden exhaust systems that made a Beetle roar as if it had performance. By chance you might come across one of these riddles on wheels called Abarth, a never-before-seen Rennei with a mysterious humpback roof - Double Bubble ???

The flounders, which no one could fit into, looked like murderous instruments on a scale of 1: 2. They fed fascinated horror dreams, who dared to drive something like that had to be of extraterrestrial origin: 200 top, unbelievable. Stanguellini, Cisitalia, Siata, Osca - knowing the names was enough for a vague picture of exotic poison dwarfs, hardly for a more precise distinction. And today? Insider fog still envelops the confusing number of prototypes, individual and special models of the new beginning at that time. You can guess their historical rank, but the fatter labels have leased the glamor. The relativity theory of the classic collector - quality does not make a star, but everyone knows everything about stars. In any case, with a standard exclusive Ferrari, a discovery story like this would hardly be imaginable: the 'Rinascimento' (for Teutons: rebirth) one of the first 3 cars with the name Abarth. Torn from its fate as a tinkered rally relic with a connoisseur's eye, and with a lot of luck and meticulousness brought it to 'former glory'.

Karl Abarth - From Bianchi distributor to head of the Cisitalia racing department

Abarth 205 - that is the name of the child of two fathers, born in 1949: half adopted, half renamed. Papa No. 1 is Piero Dusio, owner of Cisitalia in Turin. In 1947, the older brother of Abarth's debut, the Cisitalia 202, appeared there in a year that set the course for a long time. With the Coupé Gran Sport on Cisitalia's tubular space frame, Pinin Farina created the milestone of functional car design: a compact body, stretched in straight lines, withEngine hood lowered between the fenders. The model became a stylistic trendsetter for countless dream cars from more prominent houses. After all, it was even the first car that the New York Museum of Modern Art added to its inventory because of its epoch-making design. In addition, a racing version named 'Nuvolari Spider' after its driver sensationally finished the '47 Mille Miglia in second place behind an Alfa 8C 2900 (!). The overall victory prevented only 20 minutes of breakdown. The Cisitalia 202: spectacular David in a scene that was still influenced by pre-war Goliaths.

In 1947, Papa No. 2, Karl Abarth into the car historical game, born in Vienna, only trained as an Italian. He had earned his merit as a motorcycle racer early on, left his home country during the war, was temporarily a distributor of Bianchi motorcycles in Zagreb and in 1946 acted as the Italian representative for the Porsche design office. Dusio contacted him because his ambition to build a revolutionary Grand Prix racing car had made him curious about Porsche's mid-engine concept for Auto-Union. His star driver Tazio Nuvolari probably helped gently, as he had won the last pre-war Grand Prix at the legendary Auto-Union D. In 1947 the discussions led to the sale of a Porsche racing car design to Cisitalia: all-wheel drive, V12 mid-engine, 1.5L displacement - high tech, beautiful and difficult to fear. Side effect: 'Carlo' Abarth was appointed to the Cisitalia board of directors and was subsequently head of the racing department.

The end of Cisitalia and the beginning of Abarth

Rumor has it that Piero Dusio got off the ground with the highly complicated racing project 360. Whatever the case, the proceeds helped Ferry Porsche buy his father Ferdinand out of French custody, because Dusio had to leave for Argentina in 1949, leaving behind a financial mess. Juan Peron's personal call, however, was hardly followed by pecuniary acts, so that a new establishment ultimately failed. The immature Type 360 ​​landed at Porsche as a unique, museum-quality piece with no racing experience. Cisitalia in Turin vegetated lackluster after bankruptcy and resale until the 1960s. Maybe the Porsche influence made the big neighbor Fiat a little jealous. After all, the 1100 cc basic units, landing gear parts and high-alloy raw material were supplied, left over from military aircraft construction, which Cisitalia could discreetly pick up for handicrafts. Perhaps the newcomer Abarth acted a little too briskly. In any case, two Fiat engineers who worked for Dusio cleared the field for the new man in 1947.

Dante Giacosa, creator of the Topolino, returned to the company ship, which was again picking up speed and which played a key role in the creation of the 202 Giovanni Savonuzzilater worked at Ghia and Chrysler. Carlo Abarth himself, who dared to take the plunge into self-employment in 1949, profited decisively from the furious Cisitalia 202 and the relationships of his escaping patron. He took 3 Cisitalia 204s with him, 202s that he developed himself further, and 2 racing project chassis with drive, as well as a racing machine and some capable employees. Part of the inheritance was that Armando Scagliarini financed his new company. His sons Carlo and Guido were successful racing drivers in the Cisitalia team under Abarth's direction, not always to the satisfaction of the banking family. Finally, Giovanni Michelotti and Alfredo Vignale, who had already bodyworked several 202 cars, found themselves ready to draw and build an even more classy dress for Abarth's first cars.

Michelotti adds a touch of grandeur to Pininfarina's design

Technically, Abarth already introduced innovations as Cisitalia race director, so that the transition from the 202 to the 204 to the first Abarth 205 is smooth - Whether there was ever a Type 204A, and whether it was still called Cisitalia or already Abarth, history has put the dark of speculation. The front axle, which was constructed from Fiat parts on the Cisitalia, was fitted with trailing arms and torsion bars based on the Porsche model, the new (platform) frame became stiffer, lighter and shorter.

Before further innovations, the founder of the company, Abarth, first made sure that the existing dowry was put on the street and in the public eye. In the meantime, new facts have shown that two coupés were initially made from the two chassis, which did not achieve any spectacular successes in the 1950 racing season, especially at the Mille Miglia. The first racing coupé, No. 205-101, with riveted front and rear rims for a long straight, was presented freshly, so to speak, at the Turin Motor Show '50. The second, No. 205-102, was sold in 1950. For Abarth's own use, Coupé No. 205-103 was built as an elegant GT, which adorned the company stand at the Turin Salon '51. This is how you use resources.

In the public opinion, it turned out that Michelotti could add a touch of grandeur to the legendary Pininfarina design: instead of the ovoid 202 'mouth', there was a wider, flatter radiator grille with a partially integrated front Auxiliary headlights - a sporty, more adult and also more streamlined front. The sides ran smoothly with a continuous upper bead line up to the fastback, the previously sculpted rear fenders were omitted; the chubby stern managed without a transom. Result: fascinating purism and classy compactness, a powerhouse even when stationary. In the severity of the roof contour, a large rear window ran along with it, reaching up to the base of the side windows in a sickle shape. A truly noble, hoof-scratching racehorse - one liked the car's 3.5 m length,Hard to believe even 2.2 m wheelbase.

Read on the next page how Karl Abarth with his small four-cylinders drove the Ferrari of the Commendatore Paroli offers how the 'Fischer Green Star' has more than 130 victories and the great luck that the Abarth 205-102 gets into the right hands.

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