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SNAPSHOT 424: 1954 Abarth Alfa 2000

This one-off concept car was produced by Abarth in collaboration with Alfa Romeo and was designed by Giovanni Savonuzzi of Ghia.

A lengthy article in an Italian magazine from May 1954 reported that Abarth, apart from being a renowned manufacturer of tuning equipment, presented every year a one-off concept car. The article waxed lyrical about Abarth’s passion to create beautiful coachwork on beautiful machinery rather than any commercial motive.

The article firstly gave a summary of the concept cars presented since Abarth’s foundation in 1949 – a list that brings home the enormous creativity and skill of Abarth and the Italian coachbuilders at that time:

1949: An ‘elegant and efficient’ Abarth 1100, winner of the Italian sports car championship in that year

1950: Presented at the Turin motor show, the 1100cc 204 A coupé, victorious in the 3 hours of Monza and the Caracalla night race.

1951: Again at the Turin show, the 205 A, a ‘more luxurious and refined’ version of the 204 A; by virtue of its fine lines, created by Vignale, it won no fewer than five first prizes in concorsi di eleganza.

1952: The Abarth 1500, a ‘revolutionary’ design by “styling man” (written thus in English) Franco Scaglione, who had ‘fully addressed the problem of wind resistance by a proper study of air currents over a car’. This car, based on the underpinnings of a Fiat 1400, was purchased by Packard for detailed evaluation.

1953: The Abarth Fiat 103, developed in collaboration with Ghia and ‘designed with the help of Scaglione with removable coachwork elements appropriate for use in a sports car’ (although pictures of the car at the Turin show in 1953 show no sign of such elements).

The 1954 car in our Snapshot was based on an Alfa Romeo 1900 TI Super chassis with Alfa’s 4-cylinder 1975cc engine, but with the compression ratio increased to 8.5:1 and fitted with Abarth induction tracts and two horizontal twin-choke carburettors, and an Abarth exhaust with four separate steel pipes. These modifications gave 135bhp, an increase of 20bhp on standard.

There was more. The standard column change of the 1900 was replaced by a remote gearchange on the transmission tunnel, with a short lever. But Abarth were most proud of their chassis: its extremely low-slung steel box construction gave a total car height of only 1180mm (46.5 inches, against 40 inches for the incredibly low Ford GT40 of 1966.) Finally, the beautiful and streamlined light-alloy Ghia coachwork made possible a total car weight of only 890kg and enabled the car to achieve a claimed top speed of 200km/h (125mph).

A fine example of Italian sporting machinery.

Image courtesy of The Richard Roberts Archive: www.richardrobertsarchive.org.uk


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