1965 Fiat Abarth 1000 TC Berlina
Extremely Scarce - 1.0L I4 Producing 85+ hp - Great Competition History
1965 ABARTH 1000TC 5M Competition Berlinetta
Type Tipo 210
Model 1000 TC 5M Competition Berlinetta
Type CSIA/FIA GR2/4 Competition Saloon
Chassis No FIAT 100D★1965262★
ABARTH No ABARTH 210 ★1651★
Engine No FIAT 100D 000 ★2025431★
Exterior Color WHITE
Interior Color RED
Now here is something you do not see ever day. A real ABARTH 1000TC 5M Competition Berlinetta! Not a replica, not a fake, not a clone, but a genuine original "real deal” bonafide ABARTH ordered, assembled and delivered new example! With the possible exception of a Shelby Cobra or GT350, there is likely no other more commonly replicated period GT automobile than ABARTH's giant killing, 1000TC. But wait… it gets even better… not only is this a genuine, original example, it is also one of the very few, fully documented from new examples built for and retained new as a Factory ABARTH & CIE Racing Team vehicle. From 1967 until 1969, the assigned driver was none other than Arturo Merzario who drove it at numerous events including the 4 Hours of Monza and several European Touring Car Championship races.
Despite both their diminutive size and price, most enthusiasts and collectors shy away from these fantastic Italian GT racers simply because it is nearly impossible to find an actual original example. When a real one does become available, the sale of such a machine is near instantaneous leaving those wanting one still waiting for a chance at the next. Here today is that rarified opportunity and I hope you, dear enthusiast, as such are paying attention!
ABARTH had been tuning FIATs since the early 1950s. The production based 600 and later 600D's provided the optimum platform for no end of "go-fast" bolt-on as well as more involved development and modifications for flat-out racing in the ever so popular European Touring Car Class as well as State-side in a variety of SCCA classes. The 600D's 847cc engine became the basis of the 850TC "Tourisimo Competizione" of family racers. These evolved in parallel with the 1000TC which was fitted with an even more powerful 1,050cc engine. The 850TC, was introduced in 1960 and the 847cc engine received special tuning from ABARTH boosting horsepower to 52 and raising top speed to 92 mph. Performance was further enhanced with disc brakes and the suspension also received a variety of special upgrades and updates as well. The 850TC was followed by the 850TC Nurburgring Corsa which featured an additional 16 horsepower and a large front-mounted radiator. The propped-open rear engine lid gave this series of cars a very unique and distinctive look. When the engine lid was open, it not only provided additional cooling to the engine but also acted as a very useful rear wing, generating downforce to the rear wheels in a manner Porsche had not yet even considered for their newly developing "tail-happy" 911.
In parallel with the 850TC was the larger, Fiat-Abarth 1000TC. These were aggressively raced against Mini Coopers in the D Sedan class and provided plenty of competition for the British-built Cooper. They were so competitive that they were eventually banned from SCCA competition entirely. The 1000 TC evolved over several years and a variety of improvement programs implemented by ABARTH to keep them ever competitive. As such, they represented the last and most potent evolution of these models due to the continual improvement of the various versions which came before, so much so in fact that the 1000TC was competitively raced successfully well into the mid-1970s before as already mentioned being eventually banned in most classes!
The first 1000 Berlinas appeared in 1962 and used a version of the Fiat 600D engine. Prepared for road racing and track use, these cars helped win points in the 1000cc Touring Car Class. They were initially limited to only 68 bhp, and only finished 32nd at that year's Rally Monte Carlo In 1964 the racing version was replaced by the Berlina Corsa which incorporated a variety of overall improvements.
The Berlina Corsa was distinguished by its front mounted radiator that was placed upfront and in between the bumper bars. Its engine was tuned to produce 76 bhp which enabled the car reach 185 kph. Cooling and handling were greatly aided by permanetly opening the engine hood on small fixed struts.
In 1965, the model was updated with a larger radiator and support shroud which eliminated the need for a fan to cool the rear unit. These were also the first versions to feature an ABARTH tuned 5-Speed gearbox "Tipo 5M" or "Tipo 5-Marce." Further improvements came later in that same year and included window wipers that used a new linkage and a fuel filler cap that was located in the center of the front hood. These verions helped dominate the 1965 Division 1 Championship for 1000cc and smaller cars. They also secured similarly structured Italian Championship sub-classes.
ABARTH continued on with this model in 1966 with a larger front radiator shroud that extended the entire width of the car. This was good to win the Division 1 Touring Car Championship and the similar Italian Championship. The cars also competed in many Hillclimbs and Rallies with intermittent success. Many of the factory works cars in 1966 were painted with red checkerboard roofs.
Beyond 1967, the cars continued to race much in the same vein as they did in previous years, dominating the 1000cc class of the Italian Championship and the International Touring Car Championship. In 1970, they were updated with huge rear flares for Group 2 racing following the FIA's Appendix J International Regulations. After that, those that survived suffered the fate of many such period race cars... obsolescence and neglect. Add to that rust and poor period track-side accident repair and very, very few of ABARTHs original "TC" racers survived to find shelter with enthusiasts and collectors once their race days were over. Enthusiasm and the abundance of un-raced, production FIAT 600 and 600D Berlinas provided Italy's cottage-based automotive industry with no-end of suitable "donor" vehicles that begged to become "ABARTH clones" which today will leave an interested buyer with roughly a 1 in 500 or so chance of finding an original example in today's active marketplace.
ABARTH 210 ★1651★ Then:
This particular 1000TC as did all of those built by ABARTH began life as a partially assembled 600D with chassis no. FIAT 100D★1965262★ and engine no. FIAT 100D 000 ★2025431★. Upon delivery to ABARTH, the vehicle was given a two-part, unique identification number that was stamped into the rear body near the original FIAT stamped chassis number as well as on the supplemental ABARTH chassis plate. Depending if the particular vehicle would be an 850TC or 1000TC, ABARTH assigned a different type or "Tipo" number. 850TC versions were given the nomenclature Tipo 214 and the 1000TC variant was given the Tipo designation 210. This particular ABARTH was completed as a 1000TC and it's unique ABARTH number was "ABARTH 210 ★1651★.
After being assigned the unique identity which was also the vehicle's "job" number, ABARTH then finished assembly by rebuilding the engine with increased displacement of 1,050cc. It was fitted with a tuned intake manifold, special Weber, twin-choke, down-draft carburetor, special cam, followers, springs, valves, pistons, connecting rods, oil pump, toothed pulley and drive belts for the accessories, deep sump and countless other improvements that would more than double the engines stock output. This particular 1000TC was a "Tipo 5M" or "5-Marce” which indicated that was fitted with a specially designed ABARTH tuned and developed 5-speed gearbox instead of the original stock, four-speed unit. Disc brakes, suspension adjustments, tuning, re-calibrated shocks, spring, front mounted oil-cooler, magnesium alloy-wheels and fixed opening rear deck-lid were also incorporated into the assembly process. On the inside, racing bucket seats, racing seat belts would hold the occupants in place in the newly created racer that had more than twice the braking and corning ability of the stock FIAT road version. In front of the driver was a large full complement of race oriented Jaeger gauges that included a 170kph odometer and 8,000rpm tachometer. Both of these gauges could easily see their needles getting near the limit of both devices when driven by a competent pilot. In fact, depending on gearbox gearing and final drive selection, it was not uncommon for ABARTH's 1000TC to easily peg their odometer as the cars were indeed capable of exceeding the maximum gauge reading of 170kph on long straights!
While rare these days, occasionally an original example will surface from time to time. Our company previously had an original example a few years ago but while genuine, the original early history was a complete mystery with the car showing up in a Japanese Museum in the 1990s. This is clearly not the case with this Ex-Facotry Team racer. ABARTH 210 ★1651★ has completely, documented, uninterrupted, known history from new starting with the original Italian assembly records and road-registration documents as well as a fantastic assortment of original period race photos. In addition to this, the car is adorned externally and internally with a variety of scrutineering stickers, decals and under the steering column is a large assortment of scrutineering lead tags from the car's various races over the years.
After completion in 1965, this ABARTH as noted earlier was assigned to the Factory Team of ABARTH & Cie which is confirmed by the original Italian Automobile Club registration records which note that racing team manager, Gianfranco Palazzoli (“Pal Joe”) and factory Abarth mechanic Samuele Baggioli, are among the names listed on the ACI documents. The car competed in various Italian and other Continental touring car races from 1965 to 1967 when it was assigned primarily to Arturo Merzario. Merzario is of course today fondly remembered as one of the all-time greatest Formula One drivers having raced in 85 championship races at which he scored 11 championship points. Merzario got tot his start early on as a Factory Team driver for ABARTH & Cie in both 850 and 1000TC ABARTHs. By 1969, he was assigned to 1000SP and 2000SP ABARTH prototypes and in 1970, he achieved his lifelong goal and became a Ferrari Factory Team driver.
Early individual races for this Particular ABARTH are not known but one confirmed race was the 4 Hours of Monza on March 24th, 1968 at which Arturo Merzario qualified 1st and finished 7th overall. He was assigned this ABARTH for races previous and after this but the records are confusing as driver and car assignments were often switched at the last minute. Merzario was again assigned this ABARTH for the March 23rd, 1969 running of the 4 Hours of Monza but did not finish for unknown reasons. By the end of the 1969 season, Merzario was moved from the Touring Cars to the ABARTH Sports Prototypes and after 1969, his career went in a different direction and he became the legend that he is today.
In 2018, Arturo Merzario reviewed photographs of this car and its accompanying Automobile Club d'Italia registration documents, and he recognized with fond nostalgia numerous details of this ABARTH, such as the vintage decals on the windows and lead scrutineering tags still hanging from the steering column. He also pointed out and confirmed that two other racing legends, team manager Gianfranco Palazzoli (“Pal Joe”) and factory Abarth mechanic Samuele Baggioli, were also listed and identified on the original ACI registration documents.
After the 1970 Season, this ABARTH became a well-known museum piece and it was often shown and exhibited at various events throughout the 1970s and 1980s. In 1987 the previous owner found the car for sale in Italy and because of its well documented early history and excellent originality, he purchased it and had it shipped to his home in South Africa where it began a new career as a historic racer for the next ten years. In 1997, the owner relocated to British Columbia, Canada and the ABARTH joined him and his family there. over the past twenty years, it has been frequently seen on the tracks of the Pacific Northwest, supported by the specialists at Vintage Racing Motors of Redmond, Washington as evidenced by a massive documentation album on the vehicle with history, records and photos going back to new.
ABARTH 210 ★1651★ Today:
It would be nearly impossible to find another fully documented from new, Ex-ABARTH Factory Team car such as this particular machine. The very few real examples that survive rarely have complete and documented histories and the numerous fakes and clones further cloudy the field of real verses fiction. I have been a hard-core enthusiast and fan of these diminutive “Giant Killers” for more than 30 years but finding a real example just about impossible. In fact, to date, I have encountered only one other original example so far and that one had complete mystery history until the mid 1990s when it surfaced in a closed Japanese Museum Collection.
There are likely very few original ABARTH 1000TCs left in the world in this state of originality, preservation and conservation. While hardly an expensive vehicle, it is nonetheless a true automotive treasure that will find its next fortunate caretaker a very lucky individual indeed!