A former motorcycle racer, Carlo Abarth founded Abarth & C. in 1949 to produce high-performance exhaust systems and tuning kits for small Fiat cars. The Abarth works, which employed 110 people plus 12 administrative staff, were primarily equipped for batch fabrication. The 1956 Abarth 750 Bertone is a car that perfectly showcases the dedication and expertise of its creators.
One aspect of Abarth's development process that was particularly interesting was their approach to testing. Initial development work on new induction systems was done on a test bed. Still, regarding the exhaust system and other experimental modifications, Abarth preferred to conduct carefully controlled road performance tests along the autostrada. This method may have been more expensive, but the final results justified the approach.
In addition to modifying the Fiat 600 power unit for increased performance, Abarth also worked with Nuccio Bertone, the head of the coachbuilding company Bertone, to produce two stunning bodies for the 600 chassis. The first was a coupe, the Type 215A, introduced at the Geneva Motor Show and attracted significant attention. A few months later, an open two-seater Spyder version was exhibited at the Turin Auto Show, designated the Type 216A.
The Abarth 750 Bertone was based on the Fiat 600, a popular economy car in Italy at the time. Abarth's modifications to the tiny 600cc engine resulted in an output of 47 horsepower, more than double that of the standard Fiat 600. The suspension, brakes, and transmission were also upgraded, resulting in a car that was small, nimble, and incredibly fun to drive. Capable of reaching a top speed of 93 mph and accelerating from 0 to 60 mph in just 18 seconds, the 750 Bertone was a joy to drive.
But the Abarth 750 Bertone was more than just a high-performance car – it was also beautiful. Nuccio Bertone's design was elegant and sporty, with a low, sleek profile and a distinctive front grille that has become an iconic feature of Abarth cars. The 750 Bertone was a true collaboration between two legends of the automotive world, and it remains a beloved classic today.
Images: Bertone; shorey.net; classiccarcatalogue.com; www.bernimotori.com