In the economic and demographic boom years of the 1960s, Fiat kept Italy moving with its 500 and 600 models. Carlo Abarth successfully tuned both cars into manoeuvrable, feisty machines that outclassed the competition on European circuits, creating the myth of the Scorpion brand.
In February 1961, Carlo Abarth produced one of the most successful conversions of his career. Starting from the Fiat 600 D with an inline four-cylinder engine of 767 cc, he increased the displacement to 847 cc by widening the bore to 62.5 mm and extending the stroke to 69 mm. New pistons pushed the compression ratio up to 9.2:1 and output was boosted to 52 hp at 5800 rpm by adding a racier camshaft, a Solex 32 carburettor, a new air filter, a different crankshaft and a sports exhaust. The converted car reached a top speed of 140 km/h, requiring the braking system to be upgraded with discs replacing the drums on the front wheels.
One weaknesses of the 600 D was the location of the water radiator next to the engine in the rear compartment, which was inadequately ventilated despite being equipped with a fixed fan. Abarth began remedying the problem by modifying the sump and inserting an oil radiator into the lubrication circuit, initially positioning it under the passenger compartment but later moving it under the front bumper. This solution ultimately evolved into the distinctive nose of the Abarth 1000, whose front bumper was replaced by a prominent protruding structure that housed a combined oil/water radiator.
By transforming an unassuming family runabout into a manoeuvrable, light and nippy racing thoroughbred, Carlo Abarth had a created a potent weapon for competitions: the Abarth 850 “TC” (standing for Turismo Competizione or “touring competition”).