Monday, 6 June 2016

Fiat-Abarth 750

Words & photos - Daniel Bevis



While the iconic 500 is the car most people would name if asked for a classic rear-engined Fiat, it was actually the 600 that was the marque's first ever rear-engined model. Built from 1955-69, it borrowed the layout of the VW Beetle and Citroën 4CV, shrunk it down into a teeny-tiny footprint, and shifted nearly three million units.

...and, inevitably, there were Abarth versions. Of course there were. From the 210 A to the 850TC, there were a bewildering array of hotted-up 600s, and the one you see here is one of the more delicate and subtle. Lacking the outrageous bumper extensions of later, more fiery variants, the Fiat-Abarth 750 offered a tweaked 750cc motor and that brilliant trademark propped-open engine lid, and also has the historical distinction of being a car that's near-impossible to explain. Abarth made countless versions of the 750, many with swoopy coupé bodies from the likes of Zagato, Boano and Siata, along with various infinitesimal displacement changes to the engine. It's probably best if we just reverentially observe this 750 and admire its quiet majesty.
Oh, and apparently this one's running a 1,050cc motor. Just to be confusing.

Spotted at Motorsport at the Palace 2016 - more pics here.







Thursday, 2 June 2016

Supercharged Karmann Ghia

Words & photos - Daniel Bevis



The Karmann Ghia was one of those good ideas that we can all be thankful was pushed into existence. Fusing the bombproof aircooled underpinnings of the VW Beetle with an achingly gorgeous body styled by Ghia's Luigi Segre, the hand-built coupé was a runaway success. It quickly became the USA's biggest automotive import of its time, and the global production figure topped 445,000 in its nineteen-year run.

OK, they weren't quick, but they were easily tuneable, although the model was always meant to be more of a boulevard cruiser than a sports car. And this is a brief that, as standard, it fulfils perfectly.
These things operate on a sliding scale though, don’t they? This particular one has had its horsepower levels cranked up in a classic and sympathetic way, without any perceived need to alter the perfect-from-the-factory aesthetics. This flawless, concours-perfect Ghia, shimmering in a delicate green, wears its whitewalls with pride and sits at a stock-ish height, every inch the retro snapshot of classic aircooled cruising. But under the engine lid hides a Judson supercharger - a period modification originally launched to the aftermarket in 1956, offering a 50% power increase for the leisurely boxer engine.
Interestingly, these blowers were even offered by VW dealers themselves in the USA, until Wolfsburg heard about it and shut the idea down. But this Ghia proves that the sympathetic approach is a winner - it's a classic period-piece, classically tuned. Oh, and it's utterly gorgeous too.

Spotted at Motorsport at the Palace 2016 - more pics here.