Another Double Bubble: 1959 Abarth Zagato

1959 Abarth 750 Zagato

Oh the aluminum bodied oddball that is the Abarth Zagato Double Bubble! It is quirky, unusual, maybe even a bit cute but for some reason we thought these were supposed to be rare. Sure we haven’t seen as many of these as we have seen Camaros, Corvettes, or Mustangs, but we keep coming across these little Italian coupes. For some reason most of the ones we see are stripped down to bare aluminum and in need of complete restoration. We assume this is in part a result of the high cost to restore and the fact that they fit in a rather unusual niche. Micro cars are definitely going to be the next big thing, but still haven’t caught on with the high dollar collectors who would at this point rather have a Ferrari or Lambo. We have a certain love and respect for the Abarth Zagato, but the cost is prohibitive. Well until you win the lotto, you will just have to keep dreaming about projects like this 1959 Abarth 750 Zagato we found here on eBay. Sure it is unrealistic, but why not dream?

Abarth 750 Undercarriage

We have heard that there were anywhere between 350 and 700 of these built, but no one knows for sure. We can’t imagine that there are many left, especially considering the construction techniques used. When you’re trying to make a car fast there are two ways to get the job done. One way involves creating more power and the other takes shaving weight to increase the weight to power ratio. The weight reduction method has the added benefit of improved handling, so that was the direction that Fiat, Abarth, and Zagato decided to take the Double Bubble. To keep weight down without reducing rigidity, Zagato wrapped the Fiat 600’s chassis with an aluminum body. The inherent problem with this combination is called electrolysis and it can cause all the steel pieces to corrode and rust away. It appears that this one has not only suffered from corrosion, but was also stored in a damp location for most of its life.

Abarth Zagato Interior

As we look at all the rust this one has, we can understand why so many of these are no longer on the road and why many of the ones we see are unfinished projects. We have dealt with the tin worm on several Italian cars and can only imagine how deceiving one of these could be. For the most part the body panels are made of aluminum and won’t rust, but all the steel that is hidden underneath is a different story. With most cars, the floors are the first place to inspect for rust, but with these you want to check the places where steel and aluminum meet. As you can see this one has some rust on the floors, but there aren’t any major holes. Looking around the door jams and where the body meets the chassis might be a completely different story though. We would be sure to look at the body mount points very carefully, as that is most likely the reason this one hasn’t already been finished.

Abarth 750 Motor

The seller has a mountain of parts, some original and some spares. We can’t make out what is original and what is extra though, as they don’t have anything labelled. The most desirable and necessary parts are the bits that Abarth added, as they are getting extremely difficult to find. Abarth took the Fiat 600 cc four cylinder, bored it out to 750 and installed high compression heads and free breathing exhaust. The original 600 was good for only about 20 hp, but after Abarth was done with it, it was putting out 42 horses. That might not be all that much power by today’s standards, but the car only weighed 1,200 pounds!

Project Abarth Zagato

We truly wish these were cheaper or that we would have been able to buy one when they were. We are sure values will just keep climbing, even for rough projects like this one. If all the original parts are here, we are sure the seller will have no problem unloading it. Let’s just hope the next buyer is aware of what they are getting into and will actually be able to complete it. We would love to go for a spin in it after they are done, so hopefully whoever gets it will get in touch with us! We would even drive it looking rough, as long as the rust has been addressed of course. So do you agree that micro cars will be the next big thing?

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Comments

  1. Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

    We just realized that we already featured this same car back in April. The auction ended with the bidding at $25k and the reserve met. So, we figured it had sold. It is now listed with a BIN price of $39,500 by the same seller. They probably should have taken the 25 grand and ran! It should be interesting to see how this plays out.

  2. John Allison

    run! run and don”t look back!!!!

  3. Dolphin Member

    Yes this looks like the same danieljrapley’s car that was listed before. There was a mountain of parts (well, the mountain had fallen down and was spread out on a garage floor), but caution—I remember he said back then that he didn’t know which parts went with this double bubble and which went with some other car(s) he had. I would be cautious about assuming any parts with this car are correct and came from Abarth—a critical point, since a lot of the value in these cars is in the special go-fast parts that Carlo Abarth put on them.

    Not that long ago the asking would have bought you a very nice running, complete double bubble. No more, but I would still go for the most complete and correct DB I could find even if it cost twice the asking here. I think that approach would come out better in the end.

  4. Peter R

    There is an expression that a boat is a hole in the water into which one pours money – i think this is the automotive equivalent.

  5. Jim-Bob

    Hmmm…a rusty Italian exotic that, when new, had about the same acceleration as a Geo Metro and the chassis of a Fiat 500? Sorry if I still don’t get why these cars command the kind of prices they do but I just don’t get it. It’s interesting, but not $100k+ worth of interesting. For that money, I would have a Ferrari killing Nissan GTR and money left over. I’ve also worked on my neighbor’s Fiat 850 and am not impressed with it’s engineering.

    This is not to say I don’t want to see it saved. I respect it’s place in history and don’t want to see any old car die. I just hate to see the prices even mediocre cars command today.

    • paul

      About the same way I feel for every rust bucket of P 356’s I see. Don’t get me wrong these little jewels were really fun to watch with their high revving motors as they screamed around Lime Rock Park, just not this one, it is a parts car at best & from the looks of it not much parts.

  6. Horse Radish

    No, no, no !
    I’d rather donate the $40k to an orphanage in Haiti or India.

    And the ” let’s photograph this P.O.S. with a bunch of valuable cars in the background to make IT look more valuable” hasn’t me fooled either.

    If one were to make a PPI , then I would imagine more time would be spent on seeing what else is there and no sale would take place……….

    BTW seller is a high end flipper….care to donate ??

    • Bob

      And just what is that shell on the top shelf in the background? A bit reminiscent of a Chaparral 1 with a slightly different nose perhaps?? Real or imagined? Enquiring minds want to know??

      • Alan (Michigan)

        Scarab?

  7. Don Andreina

    I like these, but this isn’t the one for me. Seller can go flip himself.

  8. Alan (Michigan)

    Sure. This bondo-bucket was worth every penny to the shill-bidders which were arranged for the last time. Funny how people assume that an aluminum body has to be ok. Fact is, over decades that metal can get porous, brittle, and nasty just like the steel under-tray it is sitting on. And of course, it requires a different type of remediation skills. Bring $$$.

    Some sellers use a time-honored financial ploy: If it does bring in the real buyer at a high price, then wait a little while, jack it up considerably higher and go again. Will make the first non-sell price appear to be such a bargain, that weaker “investors” will jump in somewhere in between, and a better-than-original cash-out will be achieved. “2 offers” at this point…. One has to wonder: For how much, and, are they real, or arranged, as quite possibly was the case only a few months ago?

    There are many ways to invest money in an automotive toy. Choose wisely. This would not be one of the better options. IMHO

    • Alan (Michigan)

      Eh… error of omission: “…ploy: If it does NOT bring in the real buyer….”

  9. Gene M

    Saw two of these in Candy Apple at a concourse in Beverly hills about 1958. I thought they were terminally cute. I’ll just be content with my photos for now.

  10. RickyM34

    I’ll have the Jag in the background instead please !

  11. Jim-Bob

    I think it’s fair to say that Double Bubble prices…are in a bubble.

  12. Brian

    Looks like it was given a salt water bath, then they scraped off the paint, bondoed it, partially primed it, then pushed outside for the summer monsoon season…or two…or more…

    It’s a cool looking (styled) car, no doubt with part availability comparable to a Hispano Suiza! Money better spent elsewhere…anywhere.

  13. Steve

    I’ll never understand why the intended restorer dissassmbles every component down to nothing and it all ends up in a big mess in a pile on the floor. This is a mess any way you look at it.

  14. Jean - Pierre Audin

    The Twin Cam Abarth was much cooler and rarer. I saw one at Road America in 1962 – navy blue -no double bubble roof on the TC’s. Friend in Minneapolis had
    a D bubble and wrecked it. I have owned 3- 60’s era Fiats. Old or even new…Best advice is to stay away.

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