Karl Abarth was a magician. A waver of wands whose magic brought the exquisite pleasure of higher-performance motoring and motor racing to men and women of modest means. His speciality was conversion. And he turned the Fiat 500 and 600 low-powered tin boxes into teeth-gnashing, tire-smoking predators that won thousands of races all over the world. But it didn’t stop there. He built cars that broke world land-speed records, single- and two-seater racers, and short runs of road cars exquisitely bodied by some of the greatest Italian stylists of the day. In the late Sixties, he even built a 600-hp V-12 that was to have clashed with the Ferraris at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
To own a Fiat Abarth road car was to be a cut above the next door neighbor and his flaccid factory Fiat. It was a desire for more, for better in the frugal gray world of postwar renaissance Italy.
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