Italy’s historic Autodromo di Monza circuit turns 100 this year, and Stellantis Heritage is marking the occasion with a tribute to a car that set a stack of records there, helping put the Abarth name on the map.
Called the Abarth Classiche 500 Record Monza ’58, the celebration car is a one-off build based on a 1970 Fiat 500 but modified to look like the first ever Fiat 500 tuned by Abarth, a car that broke six speed and endurance records in February 1958 on the old banked circuit.
Being a newer car, the donor doesn’t have the suicide doors Fiat abandoned in 1965, but in its mist green paint, and wearing “Fiat 500 Abarth” graphics, an Abarth grille and badge, driving lights, and a rigid roof panel to replace the stock car’s roll-back canvas roof, it’s a pretty convincing replica in most other ways. Inside, the new car sports a wooden steering wheel and a dashboard full of Jaeger instruments, plus bare floors and a single race seat.
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Lift the rear hood, whip out your magnifying glass, and you’ll find a two-cylinder engine that’s been enlarged to a massive 595 cc using the official Abarth Classiche 595 Tuning Kit that’s based on the original collection of upgrades Abarth released in 1963. That should give the new car rather more than the 18 hp (18 PS) and 61 mph (98 km/h) top speed of a standard 1970 Fiat 500, and maybe bring it close to matching the 26 hp (26 PS) and 73 mph (118 km/h) achieved by the ’58 record car, which lapped the Monza circuit for an incredible, and probably incredibly boring, 168 hours.
The new car is on display at the Milan AutoClassica show, and to let visitors judge for themselves how close the Abarth Classiche team’s creation is to the original, the recently restored real record breaker joins it on the stand, along with the 2022 Abarth Classiche 1000 SP sports car.
Abarth is building five SPs, which are inspired by another of the company’s racing heroes, the 1966 1000 Sport Prototipo, and based on the carbon chassis and running gear of the late Alfa Romeo 4C sports car. Only one of those SP is still up for grabs, and there’ll only ever be one of the tribute 500s, so if you want to bag either you better get on to Abarth Classiche sharpish.