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Coachwork by Pinin Farina
*Please note that this car is sold on a Bill of Sale.
Displayed at the 1960 Torino Motor Show | Set Nine International Speed Records at MonzaCarrozzeria Pinin Farina, Torino, Italy (acquired in 1960)Current Owner (acquired from the above circa 1970)
Class G Records Set at Monza between September 28 and October 1, 1960:12 Hours at the Average of 203.656 KM/H24 Hours at the Average of 198.795 KM/H48 Hours at the Average of 190.264 KM/H72 Hours at the Average of 186.687 KM/H2,000 Miles at the Average of 201.115 KM/H5,000 Km at the Average of 199.238 KM/H5,000 Miles at the Average of 192.878 KM/H10,000 Km at the Average of 191.376 KM/H
42nd International Torino Motor Show, Torino, Italy, November 1960“Karl Abarth: One Hundred Years of Affordable Tuning,” Torino Esposizioni,Torino, Italy, November-December 2008Techno-Classica Essen, Essen, Germany, April 2016 (Best in Show, Media Award)
Since 1949, Abarth & Company, founded by Austrian expatriate Carlo Abarth, has been at the forefront of international motorsport. Though the Torino firm is more widely known as a manufacturer of exhaust systems and tuning equipment, Abarth designed and built its own racing cars, which captured innumerable victories in a variety of contests – from regional hill climbs to international endurance races. In the mid-1950s, as his cars dominated the small-displacement classes of sports car racing, Carlo Abarth looked to international speed endurance records as a unique way to promote his company.
In 1956, Abarth unveiled its first record car, a single-seat streamliner, designed by Franco Scaglione and built by Carrozzeria Bertone. First run at Monza in June 1956, this car set several international records and underwent continuous development, equipped with a variety of Abarth-tuned Fiat engines, ranging in displacement from 500 cc to 785 cc.
The following year, Abarth developed another record car, this time collaborating with the other major Torino coachbuilder – Pinin Farina. That company, evidently possessing the same competitive spirit as Abarth, had been experimenting with aerodynamic design, carrying out tests in the wind tunnel at Torino Polytechnic. The coachbuilder’s designs reflected its interest in the science of aerodynamics, and Carlo Abarth recognized that his record cars would benefit from such research.
The first Pinin Farina-designed Abarth record car, a 750 cc Monoposto, debuted in July 1957 and set a new Class H record after running for 72 hours at an average speed of 165.37 km/h.
That October, a breakthrough for Abarth’s record program came in the form of the new Bialbero engine. This jewel-like engine, based on the Fiat 600 block, featured twin Weber carburetors, special internal components, and an exotic twin-cam head developed by engineer Gioacchino Colombo. Running this 750 cc Bialbero engine in the Pinin Farina-designed Monoposto, Abarth smashed its own three-hour record, with an average speed 14 km/h faster than had been achieved with the earlier pushrod engine.
In 1960, Abarth built its last series of streamlined record cars designed by Pinin Farina and equipped with Fiat-based engines. Noticeably longer and lower than any of the preceding record cars, these new single-seat, canopy-top Monopostos were developed in the wind tunnel and refined through extensive testing. On September 22, 1960, the new 750 cc Monoposto took to the track at Monza and set Class H records with Grand Prix driver Umberto Maglioli at the wheel. With Pinin Farina’s new design proven effective in the smaller displacement car, it was now time to turn higher speeds with the one-liter machine.
The Monoposto da Record presented here – nicknamed “La Principessa,” or “The Princess” – was Abarth’s primary 1,000 cc car, powered by the type 229 Bialbero engine that developed 108 bhp at 8,000 rpm and gave the car a 220 km/h top speed.
For the important Class G record run, held at Monza between September 28 and October 1, 1960, Abarth General Manager Renzo Avidano organized a team of the best factory drivers, including Giancarlo Baghetti, Mario Poltronieri, Alfonso Thiele, and Umberto Maglioli.
During the run, La Principessa maintained an incredible pace and toppled previously held records. Toward the end of the multiday event, a heavy rainstorm passed through Monza, and Maglioli, the most experienced team driver, was put in the car to complete the 72-hour record. During this treacherous stretch, the Abarth hit a puddle at the entrance to the north curve. The car aquaplaned and skidded off course, coming to a stop against an embankment. Maglioli, who was unhurt, climbed out and saw that the car had been damaged in such a way that it couldn’t move under its own power. Remembering that the car could continue pursuing the record if it was able to cross the finish line without outside help, Maglioli pushed the Monoposto along the track, cheered on by the Abarth team. When Maglioli and La Principessa crossed the finish line, they established a new 72-hour record, covering 13,441.498 km at an average of 186.867 km/h.
After setting eight new Class G records at Monza, La Principessa was repaired and displayed as the centerpiece of the Abarth stand at the Torino Motor Show in November 1960. Following its record run and show duties, the Abarth was retired from competition and kept in the confines of the Pinin Farina collection. In March 1966, La Principessa was displayed during a visit from Italian president Giuseppe Saragat, but otherwise remained out of the public eye.
Some years later, Pininfarina decided the Abarth was superfluous to its holdings and sold the car to an Italian collector. Remarkably, the same family has owned the car for decades, with the consignor assuming ownership from his father.
Resigned to static storage for much of its existence, the Monoposto da Record finally resurfaced in 2008 when it was exhibited during the Karl Abarth centenary celebration in Torino. Since that time, La Principessa has been shown on just one other occasion – at Techno-Classica Essen in April 2016. Also this year, the newly formed Abarth Classiche department inspected the car and confirmed the originality of its mechanical components, issuing a written declaration and numbered certification plaque. Additionally, the Abarth is accompanied by a FIVA passport and ASI certificate of originality and golden certification plaque. Today, La Principessa remains in exceptionally original, time capsule condition, virtually untouched since 1960. Never before offered for public sale or displayed outside of Europe, this magnificent Abarth is among the most exciting automotive discoveries in recent years.
Between 1956 and 1966, Abarth & Company set 113 international speed records with a variety of machines. Carlo Abarth’s magnificent coachbuilt streamliners brought fame and international attention to his company, with their incredible record-setting speed runs and avant-garde aerodynamic designs. Exhibited at many prestigious motor shows and museums throughout the world, these cars are true works of automotive art that showcase the brilliant collaboration between two great Italian firms – Abarth and Pinin Farina – at the height of their powers.
Gooding & Company is thrilled to present this spectacular piece of history at public auction and recommends La Principessa to any collector with an appreciation for innovative design.