The return of Abarth GT Rally Car

Fiat introduced its very first sports car, the Fiat 124 Sport Spider at the 1966 Turin Auto Show. Designed by Pininfarina, it carried a 1438 cc DOHC engine, 5 speed transmission, and 4-wheel disc brake, making it one of the most innovative sports cars at the time. Fiat entered the European Rally Championship (ERC) with the 124 Sport Spider to promote the newly introduced sports car. In 1970, it dominated the top 3 in Group 3 at the Rally Monte Carlo. However, in order to win the overall championship, it needed to have a better performance than the Porsche 911, the Alpine A110, and the Ford Escort.

The Fiat Abarth 124 Rally driven by 1975 ERC Champion Maurizio Verini and Rossetti Francesco.

Abarth added changes to the 124 Sport Spider. It carried a new DOHC engine of 1800 cc and the suspension was designed for better road holding. The body was much more lightweight with the use of resin and light alloy. This new rally car was introduced as the “Fiat Abarth 124 Rally” in 1972 and entered the 1973 World Rally Competition (WRC) and ERC. However, the Alpine Renault was the successful rally car back then, and the 124 Sport Spider would have to beat it in order to obtain the Manufacturers’ Championships title. During that year, the Alpine A110 won most of the races where the works team entered, making Alpine Renault 1973’s champion.

In 1974, the world experienced an oil shock after the Arab-Israeli war, and motorsport experienced a shrink in events. Despite the circumstances, Fiat dominated the top 3 wins of Rally Portugal, the opening round of the season. This was also the year Lancia (Fiat group company) introduced the Lancia Stratos into the competition. Surprisingly, the group company won two rounds in the season, which led them to end the season as series champion.

Markku Allan Alén made a name for himself as a top rally driver with the Abarth 124 Rally. He placed third in the 1974 Rally Portugal & 1000 Lakes Rally, and second in Press on Regardless held in USA. This led Alén to a full season with the team starting in 1975, lasting until 1981.

The new 124 Spider unveiled at the 2016 Geneva International Motor Show (left) and the Abarth 124 Rally from 1976. The machine was driven by Maurizio Verini, 1975 ERC Champion.

At the Los Angeles Auto Show in 2015, the “124 Spider” was announced. Shortly after, the “Abarth 124 Spider” was introduced at the 2016’s Geneva International Motor Show. People looked forward to its revival in rally racing as the new car was lined up with the old Abarth 124 Rally on its side during the unveiling. Back then, the Porsche 997 had been dominating the FIA R-GT Cup, a category for series production GT cars. The Abarth 124 Spider entered the category in 2017 under the name “Abarth 124 Rally RGT”. Fabrizio Andolfi Jr. won a round in the series, ranking second in the overall series. In 2018, Raphaël Astier won the R-GT Cup Championship. In 2019, Enrico Brazzoli won the R-GT Cup Championship.

The Abarth 124 Rally RGT, driven by 2019 FIA R-GT Cup Champion Enrico Brazzoli.

Results of Fiat Abarth 124 Rally

Year Event Driver Co-driver Car Result
1972 FIA European Rally Championship (ERC) R.Pinto G.Macaluso Fiat Abarth 124 Rally Champion
1973 Polish Rally A.Warmbold J.Todt Fiat Abarth 124 Rally Win
1973 WRC Manufacturers’ Championship Fiat 2nd
1974 Rally Portugal R.Pinto A.Bernacchini Fiat Abarth 124 Rally Win
1974 WRC Manufacturers’ Championship Fiat 2nd
1975 Rally Portugal M.Alén I.Kivimäki Fiat Abarth 124 Rally Win
1975 FIA European Rally Championship (ERC) M.Verini F.Rossetti Fiat Abarth 124 Rally Champion
2018 FIA R-GT CUP R.Astier F.Vauclare Abarth 124 Rally RGT Champion
2019 FIA R-GT CUP E.Brazzoli M.Fenoli Abarth 124 Rally RGT Champion
2020 Monte Carlo R-GT Class L.Caprasse R.Herman Abarth 124 Rally RGT Win

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