This year’s classic re-enactment of the legendary “Targa Florio” in Sicily, at 102 events, one of the oldest motorsport races in the world, and sponsored by Abarth, finished on Sunday 7 October. To celebrate the special sporting bond with “Targa Florio”, Abarth debuted the new Abarth 595 range.
The brand’s iconic 595 has evolved in line with both aspects of its dual personality, performance and style. These are ingredients on which every Abarth, past and present, is based, and which transform the ordinary into the extraordinary.
“Karl Abarth was closely associated with the Targa Florio”, explains Luca Napolitano, Head of EMEA Fiat and Abarth brand. “Sicily’s winding roads seemed to be tailor-made for showing off his racing cars’ qualities. So the Scorpion and the Targa share a close bond and a history of racing successes and memorable anecdotes. After all, anyone admiring these historic cars that won Abarth its status as a racing legend will easily appreciate how, over the years, the tough testing ground of racing has shaped the priceless heritage that has given us the cars of today. Our participation at the 2018 event is a tribute to the 110th anniversary of our founder’s birth, as well as the ideal opportunity for the debut of the new Abarth 595 range, underlining the link to our history and racing which is part of our brand’s values.”
From rally or circuit racing to the roads of everyday driving
“Competition is a fundamental feature of the history and present time of the Abarth brand, which has a long, glorious and proud tradition in racing and rallying,” explains Luca Napolitano. “It was in the racing world that the brand first tested and perfected its technological innovations, ready for transfer to its on-road cars, to offer performance, safety and reliability.”
The racing tradition and its successes are rooted in history, reflected by the many class wins achieved in the “Targa Florio”, especially with the agile Abarth 1000 SP sports cars, ideally suited to the Madonìe roads, which enabled many drivers to achieve impressive standings in the overall competition. The victories of the classic Abarth 124 Rally models were also memorable. Since the “Targa Florio” was transformed from a speed race to a rally in 1978, Abarth has recorded several overall victories: two with the Abarth 131 Rally, in 1979 with Adartico Vudafieri and in 1980 with Mario Pasetti, and two in 2003 and 2004 with the Fiat Punto Super 1600, driven in both cases by Paolo Andreucci, who also won in 2006 in the Abarth Grande Punto S2000. The same model was first across the finish line in 2009 with Luca Rossetti at the wheel. Last but not least, in the two latest editions of the Targa Florio have been brought back to life by the racing comeback of the Abarth 124 rally, created to deliver spectacular performances in this speciality.
Three historic Abarth cars from the FCA Heritage collection
FCA Heritage, the department dedicated to safeguarding and promoting the historic legacy of the FCA Italian brands, selected three Abarth cars from its collection to compete in the “Targa Florio Classica”: the Abarth 2400 coupé (1964), the Autobianchi A112 Abarth 58 HP (1974), and the Fiat 500 (1974) upgraded with the new “Abarth Classiche 595 Conversion Kit”. They each represent one of the three great “categories” of the brand’s output of road cars: the 2400 with Allemano bodywork is a splendid example of Abarth’s ability as an independent constructor of high-end GT cars. The feisty A112 recalls Abarth’s entry into the Fiat Racing Department, after its 1971 acquisition. Last but not least, the quick, agile Fiat 500, upgraded with the new 595 transformation kit produced by FCA Heritage, pays homage to the glorious years when Abarth created its famous tuned-up versions of small-displacement Fiat cars. To celebrate the 110th anniversary of the birth of Karl Abarth, the Sicilian event was honoured by the presence of two important figures for the brand, namely Anneliese Abarth, who took part in the starting parade in the 2400 Coupé once owned by her husband, and Eris Tondelli, historic Abarth racing and test driver, who worked on the development of the 595 cars in the Sixties.
New 595 Range
Complementing the “Targa Florio” was the new Abarth 595 range. Visitors to the event were able to get close to the new models including the Turismo and the Competizione versions which express Abarth’s two personalities – performance and style. Two new colours have been introduced to the range, Adrenaline Green on the 595 Competizione and Trofeo, and Asphalt Grey available on the Turismo. The new Record Monza Active exhaust is introduced as a standard feature on the 595 Competizione and Trofeo, featuring an active valve controlled by a Sport button. When pressed, the Sport button opens the exhaust valve and the engine rumble becomes deeper and bolder. The driver can choose a more composed engine sound or a tougher, sportier – and more traditionally Abarth – roar.