Saturday 31st July 1971
Abarth & Co. the racing car and car maker founded by Carlo Abarth of Turin in 1949, was sold to Fiat. The acquisition was only made public by Fiat with a press release on 15 October. Under Fiat ownership, Abarth became the Fiat Group’s racing department, managed by engine designer Aurelio Lampredi. Abarth prepared Fiat’s rally cars, including the Fiat 124 Abarth Rally and 131 Abarth. In December 1977, in advance of the 1978 racing season, the beforehand competing Abarth and Squadra Corse Lancia factory racing operations were merged by Fiat into a single entity named EASA (Ente per l’Attività Sportiva Automobilistica, Organization for Car Sports Racing Activities). Cesare Fiorio (previously in charge of the Lancia rally team) was appointed director, while Daniele Audetto was sporting director; the EASA headquarters were set up in Abarth’s Corso Marche (Turin) offices. The combined racing department developed the Lancia Beta Montecarlo Turbo Group 5 racing car (1980 and 1981 World Sportscar Championship winner) and the Lancia Rally 037 Group B rally car (which won for Lancia the 1983 World Manufacturers’ Championship). On 1 October 1981, Abarth & C. ceased to exist and was replaced by Fiat Auto Gestione Sportiva, a division of the parent company specialized in the management of racing programmes that would remain in operation through to the end of 1999, when it changed to Fiat Auto Corse S.p.A. Some commercial models built by Fiat or its subsidiaries Lancia and Autobianchi were co-branded Abarth, including the Autobianchi A112 Abarth, a popular “boy racer” because it was lightweight and inexpensive. In the 1980s Abarth name was mainly used to mark performance cars, such as the Fiat Ritmo Abarth 125/130 TC. In 2000s, Fiat used the Abarth brand to designate a trim/model level, as in the Fiat Stilo Abarth. On 1 February 2007 Abarth was re-established as an independent unit with the launch of the current company, Abarth & C. S.p.a.,controlled 100% by Fiat Group Automobiles S.p.A., the subsidiary of Fiat S.p.A. dealing with the production and selling of passenger cars and light commercial vehicles. The first model launched was the Abarth Grande Punto and the Abarth Grande Punto S2000. The brand is based in the Officine 83, part of the old Mirafiori engineering plant. The CEO is Harald Wester. In 2015 Abarth’s parent company was renamed FCA Italy S.p.A., reflecting the incorporation of Fiat S.p.A. into Fiat Chrysler Automobiles that took place in the previous months.