Real Deal? 1967 Fiat 600 “Abarth”

This 1967 Fiat is a former race car, and until recently, it had been parked in a barn since 1978. This is a car that could have a story to tell because while it wears a lot of genuine and desirable Abarth components, the owner isn’t convinced that it is a genuine Abarth 1000. If you feel like unraveling a mystery and building a pocket rocket, then you will find this little Fiat located in Carpinteria, California, and listed for sale here on Craigslist. The sale price for the Fiat has been set at $8,900. I have to say a big thank you to Barn Finder Robert T for spotting this great Italian classic for us.

Once the accumulated dust has been hosed away, what we find is a Fiat that appears to be very solid and very straight. The owner provides some pretty reasonable photos of the floors and engine bay, and the car seems to be structurally sound. There might be a couple of small holes in the front floor on the passenger side, but it actually pretty difficult to be sure on that point. The panels look to be free of the sort of rust issues that can plague so many Italian classics, while the glass also appears to be in good condition. The front wheel-wells have been radiused, and the owner is correct when he says that this was a characteristic of the Abarth TCR race cars. The work looks a little bit rough in a couple of spots, but it could still be made to look quite respectable. Now, this is a car that does throw us a mystery or two. It features a number of very distinctive components that you would normally only expect to find on an Abarth 1000, but the big question remains whether or not it is the real deal. The hood props are definitely genuine, while it wears all of the correct badges, the sweet little Cromodora wheels, and the front-mounted radiator. The owner doesn’t feel that the Fiat is what would be classed as a clone. The car has a racing pedigree, and his theory runs along the lines that a previous owner had a genuine Abarth and that it may have suffered some severe damage in a racing accident. Rather than attempt repairs, he has simply sourced a 600 bodyshell and transplanted all of the Abarth components into it. That is a possibility, and if it is close to the truth, then it certainly wouldn’t be the first time that this has happened to a race car. It is also one of those situations that can potentially “blur the line” for some people. If all of the original components have been transplanted into another essentially identical shell, when does it cease to be the real deal? From my perspective, the lack of the original body would mean that the Fiat is no longer a genuine Abarth, but other people would tend to disagree.

The interior of the Fiat throws us some more questions and curve-balls. Starting with the positives, and the upholstery on the seats and the door trims looks to be in decent condition. I suspect that a thorough clean would have them presenting quite well. The dash features that distinctive Jaeger gauge cluster, which was a hallmark of the Abarth. The owner does make a bold claim about these clusters being worth $3,500 on their own. However, I have had no real trouble locating some very nice sets for under $1,500. There are some aftermarket gauges fitted to the dash, and if the next owner is keen on returning the vehicle to an authentic appearance, then these will need to be removed. It is no real surprise to find no carpets because this is well within character for a car that has spent its life going around in circles on a track. The wheel is an obvious recent addition, and I would be very inclined to seek out either a genuine wheel or at least something more appropriate to the era if I was restoring this classic. For a former race car, I have also noticed that the Fiat is lacking any form of roll-over protection. I not only see no evidence of the vehicle ever having so much as a roll bar, but I see no obvious signs of any form of seat-belts. I find that to be very curious, and it just serves to add to the mystery of this car.

The engine bay of the Fiat is currently empty, but a full drivetrain is included with the car. I guess that it’s now that we start to have some more difficult questions to answer with this car. The owner knows nothing about the health of the engine or transmission, but if this is a real Abarth, then the engine should have a capacity of 982cc and should produce at least 78hp. Shifting duties would fall to a 5-speed manual transmission, and thanks to the fact that such a lightweight wears 4-wheel disc brakes, pressing down on the middle pedal should see the car stop…yesterday! Looking at the engine, I have major reservations about whether this is a genuine Abarth motor. It lacks the alloy components that you would expect to find, including the finned oil pan. There are a correct pan and other components included in the sale, but the fact that they aren’t attached to this engine is a real giveaway in my book. This engine wears a production cast iron exhaust manifold and not the distinctive Abarth exhaust. It also isn’t clear whether the transmission is correct, but the disc brakes would be right on a ’67 Abarth. There is no doubt that with the components available in the sale this engine could potentially be converted to Abarth specifications, and if that work was completed, this could be a pretty entertaining little car.

I have to say that this 1967 Fiat does have me scratching my head because it throws up so many inconsistencies. I do believe that at some point there has been a genuine Abarth 1000 in the mix here, but as is the case with so many former race cars, it is a bit like my grandfather’s ax. That ax is completely original, although it has had three new heads and five new handles. That is so often the case simply because a race car will always experience wear and tear well in excess of what would normally be expected under normal usage. If we treat it as an Abarth replica, which is what I would be inclined to do, then it does show a lot of promise. Its relative completeness and apparent lack of rust combine to make it look like a very promising project car. At the end of the day it will probably never be worth the sort of money that a genuine Abarth would command, but it would still be an entertaining little car to drive. If you want an Italian classic to restore in your workshop but space is limited, then maybe this is the car for you.

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Comments

  1. Elanguy

    Cool find, and even priced as a replica, Fiat 600 prices instead of Abarth. If it were real there would be some stamping in the engine compartment over where the muffler lives. Seller seems to know a bit about these cars. Encouraging.

    Like 2
  2. Dickie F.

    Bravo Adam !
    That is an excellent right up !

    Like 5
  3. dave smeaton

    I remember watching the Abarths racing in the sedan races that would accompany the Canadian G.P. ,they wee a blast to see but they were usualy near the back of the grid no match for the Cooper S and the Cobras but they had a smaller engine of course.They probably fared better ineurope where there were more cars of the same class,Im sure they sounded great,if I remember right and the trunk lids were always open,I always thought that was cool!

    Like 2
  4. FastEddie/OldEddie: pick one

    What possible reason can there be to uglify the car by butchering the front wheel openings?

    Like 3
    • Mark Mitchell Member

      The front wheel openings were radiused on the original Abarth race cars (google Abarth 1000TCR). This was done strictly for wide tire clearance, it was not meant to be pretty-

      Like 4
  5. Angrymike

    That 3/4 of America couldn’t even fit inside this little machine, shows how far society has come.
    Neat lil car, would be fun !

    Like 2
    • Mark_Mitchell Member

      There is actually plenty of room in these cars. I’m 6’0″ and 200, and fit fine-

      Like 1
  6. Mark_Mitchell Member

    This car was part of my collection featured last year here on Barn Finds: https://barnfinds.com/huge-stash-of-european-sports-cars/

    Like 3
  7. Mark_Mitchell Member

    This is my listing from CL. Thanks for featuring it here on Barn Finds! Those that know me are aware that I’ve owned many Abarths over the years as well as a great number of other interesting Italian cars. I originally bought this car as a counterpart to my genuine matching numbers Abarth 1000TC. An inexpensive Hot Rod weekend warrior as opposed to a coddled trailer queen. Since the history of this car is unknown, it could be modified and upgraded immensely without reprisals from purists. This was last registered in 1978, which is before Abarths had much collector value. Replicas were not being created back then, as there was no profit incentive to do this. I assume that this was basically a reshell of a crashed Abarth race car, in an effort to get back on the track. It has a lot of great parts, and a nice straight body. It certainly has the “look” with the alloy wheels, radiused TCR style front wheelwells, deck props, gauge cluster, etc. It is also extremely rare to find a later 600 with non-suicide doors here in the US, as the majority of the cars sold here were late 50’s suicide type. I am selling this along with the Fiat 500 (with later 126 engine/syncro trans swap) mainly to make space in the garage for some other projects. I have many other cars in my collection and all of them need my attention. Its time to downsize a bit and try to focus on some of my other toys.

    Like 3
  8. Bill Schley

    In my opinion this is not a ‘factory’ ABARTH race car. The most obvious change is the front radiator which is an accessory for street cars. Yes, the factory race cars all had front radiators but this one was made to attach under the car near the rear suspension, to increase cooling capacity. Too many other things to mention that are not original. Although I’ve had about a dozen ABARTH cars I don’t consider myself an expert. I did buy a 1967 Fiat-Abarth Berlina Corsa, new from the factory, which you can see racing at Road America June Sprints in 1968.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NxV6MdPnx6E&t=634s

    AbarthBill Schley

  9. KarlS

    5 speed transaxle? I’d like something like that from my 850 Spider.

    Like 1
  10. TimM

    Neat little car!! Don’t think I’d want to take it on a long trip at my age!! Might have to pry me out of it!!!

    Like 1
  11. Elanguy

    Wow, when I said ” Seller seems to know a bit about these cars. Encouraging.” little did I know what an understatement that was going to turn out to be!

    Like 3
  12. Mark_Mitchell Member

    Reply to Bill Schley: Please read my comments above yours. I never claimed that this is a genuine matching numbers Abarth. Since it was last registered in 1978, I believe that it was probably a reshell using some Abarth parts from a crashed car so it could keep racing. The history was lost before I bought the car, so there is no way to verify this. It was definitely not a recently done clone built to fool anyone or to increase its value. If it was a 100% genuine Abarth, I’d be foolish to let it go for this bargain-basement price. I already have a genuine matching numbers 1000TC Stradale in my collection, and am simply clearing out some projects to make some room in my shop and focus on the others-

    Like 1
  13. chrlsful

    fun lill jewels!
    Mr. Abarth also helped Germany after the war, a real huanitarian (got Porche outta jail).
    Celebrate our history. Learn and appreciate these lill cars, how they came abt and the legacy they created going forward…

  14. Tbone bob

    Cool car

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