Double Bubble Discovered: 1956 Fiat Abarth Zagato

Jeff LaveryBy Jeff Lavery

It’s not every day that a genuine Fiat-Abarth 750 “Double Bubble” Zagato shows up for sale, especially with as intriguing of a history as this car in Alaska has. The seller notes he has searched for this car for years but is selling the converted ice racer to fund the purchase of another vehicle from the same collection, which at one time held two Ferrari Testarossas. Find it here on eBay with a $300,000 Buy-It-Now and the reserve (surprise!) not met. 

The seller provides a fairly detailed accounting of how this extremely rare “Double Bubble” became a hodge-podge of battered bodywork and crudely flared fenders. Apparently, the original owner raced this and two Ferrari Testarossas at Alaska’s Tanacross Raceway when new.  As time wore on, all three cars were outgunned on the straights, so the Ferraris were retired and the Fiat was extensively modified to continue to do battle on the ice and road course. A custom Buick V8 was built and installed to help the tiny Abarth keep up with the big block Corvettes.

The seller further claims he knew of this car when he was a child, and became intrigued after learning it had supposedly won the Mille Miglia. Again, no evidence exists to support this claim, but given the lustrous history of the Double Bubble cars, it’s not hard to fathom this car has a pedigree beyond ice racing in Alaska. Needless to say, it is quite rough and there’s no indication the original motor is still with the car. The Double Bubbles had a raised engine canopy to account for the taller twin-cam motor found in the Abarth-equipped examples.

The drivetrain is further modified with a Corvair transaxle and “…custom cut gears.” Regardless of the purity of this conversion, a genuine Abarth Double Bubble in any form will always be desired by collectors. Although the history of this car needs further research and confirmation, this car will likely find a new owner sooner than later – and we’d love to be kept abreast of the next chapter for this wild Alaskan ice racer.

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Comments

  1. Luke Fitzgerald

    Whoever buys this at anything more than its scrap price is out of their mind

    28+

    • don trump

      pos

      4+

  2. Jeffro

    Being in Alaska, it’s obvious that the beer stayed cold! I’m sure there was lots of it.

    3+

  3. steve

    All the Kings horses and all the Kings men can’t put this one back together again

    16+

  4. OA5599

    Double Trouble.

    14+

  5. sunbeamdon

    Gee, when I’m done with my ’65 Tiger PORust I’ll step up to get another project car (not!)

    2+

  6. Paul

    I was not aware that Alaska had legalized pot. Perhaps this seller doesn’t mind the illegality as they must be smoking something!!

    8+

  7. Spridget

    “Roadkill does Pebble Beach”

    10+

  8. Milt

    Already on BaT with over 150 comments. Why does junk get the most attention?

    7+

    • Alan Brase

      I bet it would not get much if it was listed in regular auction or buy it now for $15k. (about what it is worth.)

      1+

      • Alan Brase

        Well, what did I know? It’s near double my estimate with 5 days left. Perhaps there is something to the story of MM provenance. Most any car that competed there back in the day, I think can get admitted to the present day love fest for the billionaires. Not sure they would like to see it in this state. This form of motor sport ranks right up there with anvil blasting/ launchin, and punkin chuckin. A monument??
        WRT the Testarossas with CONSECUTIVE SERIAL NUMBERS? But they wouldn’t be consecutive. They would be two digits apart.

        3+

      • Zorba

        Good for scrap metal maybe $210.00

        0

      • Alan Brase

        You can sell me one for $210 if you find one. And you will be leaving at least $25,000 on the table. It is worth what ONE bidder will pay for it. And in 4 days we will find out that number.
        Like Dolphin says, if you don’t like this type of car, you likely will not understand. I see no arrogance in that.
        I wish somebody would post up some pics of one of these. If you ever saw one in person, you might understand. That having been said, it will take serious effort to make this nice again. (Maybe $100k or more.)
        If it can be verified that it even COMPETED in MM, that is a big deal.
        Why is a Ferrari 250 GTO worth $38M or whatever one just went for? This is a half sized/ quarter sized Ferrari GTO. NOWHERE as valuable as a real Ferrari, but the builders were drinking the same water. And it shows.

        1+

  9. Joe Haska

    Is it , “April Fools Day”!

    0

  10. Jay M

    Oooh that’s tempting, but it’s missing the horn button so I have to pass…

    32+

  11. Alan Brase

    I know quite a bit about these. I sat in one at an Iowa race track in 1966. Later a friend of mine ferreted a couple out of the bushes and an Allemano Spider 750 also.
    But the best part is there was a perfect blue one in a garage in Reinbeck, Iowa. Stored for years. My friend Jack was a rennaisance man, was in the army in Europe in the 1960’s and knew exactly what it was. Bought it for $4k. After he died, his wife got $40k for it. The flipper that she sold it to, spruced it up and ran it thru an auction house for about 10 times that.
    This is a pretty close to hopeless case. The exact right thing to do with this is a cosmetic resto and LEAVE THE BUICK in it. A bodged together resto will never be worth half what an original one is. I bet it’s a hell of a ride. I think a fully trimmed Buick 215 weighs about 300lb.

    2+

  12. dennis

    I pity the fool that buys this car.

    2+

  13. glen

    Most ice racers are throw-away vehicles, who would destroy this with so many other cars available. After they destroyed the car, they ask for $300,000 ? This is nuts!

    4+

  14. Pa Tina

    BF can shut down for the rest of the week. It will be impossible to top this story.

    4+

  15. John K

    Tommy Flanagan special.

    Yeah, this is an ice racer, but… not just an ice racer, but an… Italian ice racer! Why, it raced only on Italian ice! Yeah, yeah, that’s the ticket! It raced on Italian ice in… the… uh… Mille Miglia! Which it won.

    11+

    • Chebby

      Yeah but what flavor Italian Ice?

      6+

      • Alan Brase

        Flavor would be Salt. with a little sand on the side. Maybe some carbide on the side as well.

        4+

      • Mike W H

        Flavor? Has to be Lemon

        0

  16. Jermey

    I live up here. Everything that is rusted, battered, and turned to junk is considered extremely rare and very valuable to a backyard aficionados.

    2+

  17. Mountainwoodie

    he’s insane

    3+

  18. Mark S

    Boy this thing has been punished, I think it should be in a museum just the way it sits as a testiment to the strength and resilience of this car along with its story. Nice find.

    1+

  19. Bbuz

    I had a 58 750 Zagato, the “raised engine canopy” was not to allow room for Abarth twin cam. They were air intakes for the engine and the cooling. The radiator was on the right side of the engine and had reverse flow, air came in from the back, flowed forward through the radiator and out the bottom, standard Fiat 600 setup. There was also a secondary radiator plumbed in series under the driver’s compartment.These were pushrods engines (I had to rebuild mine) with the cam high in the block, really short pushrods and double coil springs on the valves. The thing would rev to an ungodly 8,000 RPM with no valve float. Single barrel downdraft Weber on the street cars (which mine was). The Double Bubble was to give some headroom for the driver and navigator, this was a tiny car. Aluminum body on steel pan, flexed like crazy. I built a roll bar and cross bracing behind the driver that helped somewhat. Alas put it into storage in Laguna Beach when I went to USAF Pilot Training in 1970 and someone convinced me to sell it to them for $1,300 as I recall, I had bought it for $800 and had about an additional $500 in the rebuild in parts, did the work myself in my parents garage. Had sold my 57 VW oval window with ragtop sunroof for $750 to pay for the Abarth. Replaced the Abarth with a new 1970 BMW 2002 roundie which I traded for a ’71 Volvo 1800ES in 1974. My first four cars, then I got married…it was a good run while it lasted.

    8+

  20. Bbuz

    Also, too bad the Jaeger instruments are gone in this one. Might be enough aluminum left to get the general shape and build a buck for a new body.

    0

  21. michael streuly

    300k for that pile of S**T are you kidding me. 300.00 maybe.

    4+

  22. Howard A Member

    I swear, the writers throw this stuff in just for the comments. I haven’t heard this much creativity since my CB truckin’ days. We all know this is just ultimate response to every tv auto restore show, telling us how valuable something is, regardless of condition and while I can’t verify the rarity of the car, it only shows how powerful the media is,,,even in Alaska. In case you can’t visualize what this abomination looked like ( I couldn’t) , look at what a fantastic car,,,this was, http://i.pinimg.com/originals/df/60/e5/df60e57e1f43e2ee513d23023336b163.jpg

    7+

    • CATHOUSE

      Howard, thank you for the link. There is quite a difference between the 2 cars. The featured car will have a long road to travel to look like the one in your link.

      0

  23. PebblebeachJudge

    Worth it. Makes as much sense as investing with your banker with a lawyers advice on the small print.

    2+

  24. Dolphin Dolphin Staff

    These cars are some of the most desirable small Italian road/racing cars of all time. People will pay crazy prices for them for all kinds of reasons. If you don’t like vintage Euro vehicles you will probably never understand that.

    It looks like someone used this for ice racing because it has a rear engine and was real cheap. That combo would have worked to help deal with having to live in Alaska, but it was like tearing up $100 bills lap after lap on the ice.

    The description and B-I-N asking in the Ebay listing is “interesting”, but might not be totally accurate and informative.

    But the current $25K bid, with 70+ bids so far tells you something about the desirability of these little cars. I just hope the winning bidder knows what he’s getting into with this poor example.

    5+

    • Dan

      It is a little insulting to generalize people and say “if you don’t like something, you will never understand it”. The readers here are not stupid. We understand it, but that sure as heck does not mean we agree with it!

      10+

  25. Wolfgang Gullich

    I see this Zagato fetching over $100K even in its current condition. A relatively low cost entry into a car that Carl Abarth likely laid his hands on.

    1+

  26. leiniedude

    From the ad, ” The provenance and race history must be established by the new owner or buyer.” Thats a lot to ask for after handing over 300 K. “It is only for sale to buy a racer from the same collection.” I am looking forward to see what they plan to flip next from the same collection.

    1+

  27. Luckycat

    Perfect as is for the next Mad Max film

    2+

  28. Wrong Way

    I can’t believe someone has money to throw away on that piece of junk! They say beauty is in the eyes of the beholder? I am having trouble seeing any beauty in this! I guess some people have all the money to do it, but a full restoration would be alot of money!

    2+

  29. Bruce Best

    I know people that could restore it and make into a true car again but the price is insane. 20K maybe but without the engine, trans the metal work alone will cost over 75K to get right. NFW or now way with emphasis.

    2+

  30. Rich Nepon

    Ba lot of $$$$ for a title. There is one, right?

    0

  31. Motrbob

    What, no patina comments?

    0

  32. Cargirl

    History exists on almost all cars. You just need a few names and maybe a location to get the ball rolling but once you start digging you can almost always find out valuable history on the car.
    If this car ran in the Mille Miglia there are ways to confirm that. But it has zero relevance on this car’s price. No proof. No value.

    1+

  33. John

    These were truly amazing little cars. They had very small motors (around 750 cc if I remember correctly). But they turned approximately a zillion RPM, and they made the most wonderful noise doing it. The “scoop” on the back always made it look like the hood was coming off. While there may be few records about this exact car, they did compete in the Mille, and at LeMans (where they were always “Index of Efficiency” contenders). I was there and saw them. It is clearly not outside the realm of possibility that this car could have competed in one, or both of those venues. It is heartbreaking to see one in this condition. I truly wish that Bill Gates or one of those kinds of guys could buy this car and give it the kind of restoration it deserves. Unfortunately, it would require the resources of a Bill Gates to make that happen. This Barnfind truly makes me sad.

    0

  34. Cj

    $30,000 seems fair. Send me a cashier’s check and I’ll come haul it away for you.

    0

  35. Martin Horrocks

    This sent the comments through the roof on BaT. Not a single positive, as here mainly.

    Fake and sensational news goes viral and I feel your editorial should be worded more strongly against this advertisement and the claims it makes. No trustworthy seller would claim absurdities like a Mille Miglia win for a 750cc car. Class win is maybe just possible, but the MM ran for the last time in 1957, so there should be little difficulty checking that claim. As the seller refuses to do so, guess the rest.

    750GT is at the lower end of the Abarth racing car scale, by the way and the fact that a beautiful restored CA titled example (maybe incorrect engine but not a Buick) sold on BaT for $87000 last night shows where the market is for these achingly beautiful cars.

    1+

    • John

      In 1957, Ferrari 315s placed 1st and 2nd overall. The little Fiat Abarth Zagato 750s finished 1, 2, 3, in the GT750 class entitling Carlo Abarth to proclaim his cars as Mille Miglia winners. There were 20 entries in that field. The class wining Abarths finished 63rd, 68th, and 77th overall.

      One has to remember that in the 60s and 70s the Alaska pipeline brought fortune seekers of all varieties (including my brother-in-Law) to Alaska. They brought with them , all sorts of goofy stuff. Somewhere in my archives, I have a photo that my Brother-in-Law sent of a Rolls and some sort of Ferrari (250 Lusso??) parked together in front of a watering hole near Fairbanks. Its not hard to imagine that some entrepreneur envisioned the likes of the Monte Carlo Winter Rallye occurring in the Denali. Who knows what may be lurking in the barn igloos of the frozen north? But then, given the state of this little Zagato, who cares?

      0

      • Martin Horrocks

        You´re right, John. It took me 15 minutes to find similar information, and that the same driver (Thiele) finished 2nd in class in 56 and 1st in class in 57. If that was in the same car, and this is it, you have the beginnings of a 200,000€ story.

        But if the guy who wants $300K can´t be bothered with a little light googling how much care should we invest in his scheme?

        1+

  36. John

    None. It’s just sad.

    0

  37. Bbuz

    Maybe it just has a Mille Migla badge on it, my 1958 America edition did, doesn’t mean it ran the race, just a bit of marketing.

    0

  38. Mike Siebel

    I think I saw this car in Mad Max!

    0

  39. Joel S

    Beaten to hell and back, and nothing original ??? YEAH!!! 300k sounds about right !!
    NOT !!!

    1+

  40. michael streuly

    Buy it now gone 76 bids 25,700 top bid so far

    0

    • leiniedude

      Winning bid:US $25,700.00
      [ 76 bids ]

      0

  41. Mike Siebel

    about $25,690 too much!

    1+

  42. Alan Brase

    At least no one will ever say the car was photographed to make it look better than it actually was! Or, could it even have hidden damage?

    0

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