The Fiat 124 Abarth Rally was one of the first fruits of Fiat’s 1971 purchase of the legendary firm Abarth, a partnership which would serve the Fiat Group in the World Rally Championship to tremendous effect for many years. Almost as soon as the 124 Spider appeared in 1966, privateers began rallying it in mid-level national events. The acquisition of Abarth gave Fiat the resources to field their own factory team. As part of the deal, Carlo Abarth insisted that the engineering team remain unchanged, which proved to be a critical ingredient to the 124 Abarth Rally’s success. Experienced and talented engineers Ivo Colucci and Stefano Jacoponi collaborated to create the 124 Abarth Rally, which employed the typical go-fast methods to turn the pleasant and enjoyable 124 Spider into something rather spicier.
The most significant change was the replacement of the live rear axle with independent rear suspension. The body was also meaningfully lightened with the removal of the bumpers and the fitment of aluminum doors and fiberglass deck lids and hard top. A roll bar was added, as were flared wheel arches to accommodate wider alloy wheels. The engine received twin 44mm Weber carburetors and an Abarth exhaust, while the 5-speed synchronized gearbox and all round disc brakes were retained. Inside the car, the rear seat, center console, and glovebox lid were deleted, a 3-spoke leather rimmed Abarth steering wheel added, and aluminum dash trim replaced the faux wood.
The first official outing of the Works Team was on 15th October 1972 at the Rally Portugal with Alcide Paganelli and Ninni Russo, who drove their car to an impressive 5th overall. The initial performance encouraged Fiat to continue its Factory effort and on February 12th, 1973 another Works 124 obtained second place in the Costa Brava Rally with Pinto and Bernacchini. Subsequently, an encouraging 4th place followed in the San Marino Rally with Babasio and Macaluso. The first, important international win arrived on April 14th, 1973 in the Yugoslavia Rally thanks to the all-female team of Tominz and Mamolo.
1974 marked the debut of the iconic "lobster orange" and light green livery and additional integrated headlamps. The season started with a victory of Bisulli-Zanuccoli at the San Marino Rally. In addition to running the European Rally Championship, the 124 Abarth Rally also ran in the big times, the World Rally Championship. It placed second in the final standings every year that it ran (1973-1975), initially behind the Alpine A110 and then of course behind the legendary Lancia Stratos. Even in that exalted company, the 124 managed some impressive wins, including a 1-2-3 finish at the Monte Carlo Rally in 1974! Seeking to polish the image of another of their road-going cars, Fiat replaced the 124 with the 131 for the 1976 WRC season, creating another icon in the process.
Chassis 0062626 began its life in 1973 as an Abarth Stradale finished in white (one of just 3 colors offered) and was then later converted to Gr.3 specification, participating in minor competitions. More recently, the car underwent a full Gr.4 preparation with the much desired Colotti gearbox, racing in the 2000 class in few historic rallies including “La Grande Corsa” and “Rally Costa Smeralda” in 2018 conducted by Rocchetto-Paganoni, wearing white paint with GULF light-blue/orange accents. The car is ready to race with FIA historic technical passport and has been exercised regularly.
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