27 Feb 2019
Abarth celebrates a record 2018 performance and 70 years of transforming the ordinary into something extraordinary
It was in 1949 that Carlo Abarth, after a career racing motorcycles and cars, founded Abarth & C with Guido Scagliarini. The first vehicle produced was the 204 A, based on the Fiat 1100. It immediately won the 1100 Sport Championship as well as Formula 2. Alongside racing, the company started to produce tuning kits that improved performance, power and speed of standard vehicles.
Abarth vehicles are renowned for their high performance and power, but first and foremost for being small and agile just like the Scorpion. Carlo Abarth’s performance modified cars achieved success in every competition and with him at the wheel, set many records. In the 1950s and throughout the 60s, the Abarth brand became synonymous with sport, tuning and performance, and changed the sports car world.
Today, as the brand celebrates its 70th Anniversary, Abarth still maintains its unique DNA, and is renowned for performance, great driving pleasure and sporty appeal - attributes that generated record sales in 2018.
“2018 was a record year for Abarth, both in terms of sales and racing success,” said Luca Napolitano, Head of Fiat & Abarth - EMEA. “With almost 24,000 units registered and a growth of 36.5% over the previous year, Abarth set a new all-time sales record, with excellent results in many markets, such as the United Kingdom, where it sold more than 5,600 units, representing growth of 27% and breaking its previous sales record.”
It was also an outstanding year in motorsports: the Abarth 124 Rally, in its second racing season, established itself as the dominant force in the R-GT class, scoring more than 40 class victories in 12 national championships and winning both the European R-GT championship and FIA R-GT Cup.
“Great results like these mean we will be celebrating the 70th anniversary of Abarth over the coming year with pride,” added Napolitano.
The story of the Scorpion continues, facing new challenges, creating unique vehicles and giving great emotion to whoever has the honour of driving these vehicles. The Abarth mission is to transform the ordinary into something extraordinary, by empowering customers and delivery exciting experiences to intensify their lives.
The history of the brand is rooted in competition. Karl Abarth had always been attracted by racing and dedicated his life to a continuous search for brilliant, simple and innovative solutions to increase the performance of the vehicles he laid his hands on.
“Racing allows us to put new techniques and technology to the test in the most severe development conditions, for their subsequent transfer to normal production models, with the ultimate goal of making our products more and more efficient and reliable,” said Napolitano. “Our aims in the development work on the Abarth 124 Rally were very clear - to improve its performance, simplify its setup procedures and make it even more reliable.”
Last year the 124 Rally proved it had achieved a very impressive level of reliability - only 6 retirements for technical reasons out of 52 races. An excellent result. In the development programme, Abarth engineers completed over 5,000 km of tests, equivalent to two whole racing seasons, on the most gruelling special stage roads in all weather conditions, collecting data and working alongside highly experienced drivers and testers such as Alex Fiorio. This information was then combined with the data already gathered in the first two racing seasons, enabling the brand to present a greatly updated 124 Rally, thanks to major modifications to the engine, transmission, gearbox and setup.
The engine still has the same maximum power level, but it was decided to make better use of this power by means of a new torque curve, beefier at low rpm and linear at high. And easier driving means more effective, faster performance.
The work on the transmission involved the differential and Traction Control mapping, to improve driveability and handling, especially in very difficult conditions such as snow or ice combined with low-grip surfaces - situations that the 124 Rally has always dealt with very well. The gearbox also received attention, especially to provide faster gear engagement during up-shifting and smoother engagement during down-shifting.
More work was done on the 124's setup - when braking, the car gives the driver a more immediate feel, enabling a more gradual action and improving the approach to bends. All specific aspects of the setup were further developed to achieve an optimal overall result, which every driver can also customise to suit his own driving style and the type of course.
As Napolitano explains, Abarth will be supporting private teams in the European Rally Championship, within which the six-race Abarth Rally Cup 2019 single-make championship will be held.“At each of these races, in the service area we will provide our technical staff, parts service and a hospitality zone, which will become the meeting-place for Scorpion drivers and fans.Our aim is to work more and more closely with our drivers and teams, to support them and continue a relationship which has already yielded excellent racing results.”
Over the decades, Abarth has become famous for its highly desirable limited edition models, which, in recent years, include the 695 Rivale 175 Anniversary (2017: 350 units worldwide), 695 XSR Yamaha Limited Edition (2017: 1,390 units), 124 Spider 2016 Edition (2016: 2,500 units), 695 Biposto Record (2015: 133 units), 695 Maserati Edition (2012: 480 units), 695 Tributo Ferrari (2010: 1,649 units), 595 50thAnniversary (2013: 390 units), Cabrio Italia (2011: 150 units), Zerocentro (2009: 100 units), Opening Edition (2008: 200 units) and the Punto Scorpione (2011: 199 units).
To further celebrate the brand’s 70th Anniversary, two brand-new special editions made their debut at the 2019 Geneva International Motorshow - the new 595 esseesse, inspired by the legendary Sixties tuning kit and the Abarth 500 edition launched in 2009 plus the 124 Rally Tribute limited edition, both of which are deeply rooted in motorsports and pay homage to 70 years of style and performance.
In the Middle East, Abarth is currently available in Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates (595 Competizione and 695 Rivale) and Lebanon (595 Turismo and 595 Competizione).