The DIY Abarth 595 cars

Yesterday and today

With the aid of a kit containing a full set of tuning components, Abarth used to enable everyone to convert their Fiat 500. Today, FCA Heritage is offering exactly the same conversion kit as all those years ago.

In the early Sixties, Abarth had evolved into a real car construction company, capable of turning out vehicles intended for professional racing drivers, gentlemen drivers and lovers of a sporty driving style. It used to receive vehicle bodies and components, generally but not only from Fiat, and assemble them with modifications to a large proportion of their mechanical parts, before offering them for sale under its own Scorpion brand.

After the great success of its conversions of the Fiat 600 - the displacement of which was boosted first to 750 and then to 850 cc - Abarth focused its attention on the smallest of the Turin cars: the Fiat 500. For the first time, Abarth did not just build and sell its cars, but also decided to market a kit of tuning components, enabling enthusiasts to convert their 500s for themselves.

This led to the appearance, in summer 1963, of the Fiat-Abarth 595 and the Abarth 595 conversion kit for Fiat 500. Abarth's first goal was to produce a large enough number of cars to obtain type-approval in the Turismo up to 600 cc category, after which it also began sale of the kits.

FCA Heritage has decided to reproduce Abarth's historic conversion kit using the very latest technologies. And today, as back in the past, the Fiat 500 "test car" on which the 595 kit is installed is being put through its paces by the legendary Eris Tondelli.

The conversion Abarth applied back then was exactly in the brand's style: increased displacement and compression, larger carburettor and "higher performance" camshaft. Not to mention an expanded oil sump and a completely redesigned exhaust system. Anything which was not changed became lighter in weight, including the crankshaft and connecting-rods. As an optional, the car could be equipped with a dashboard with "racing" instrument panel.

Both the car and the kit were a great success because, in spite of the sophistication of the tuning, the overall cost meant that a large number of enthusiasts could purchase the kit and "feel like a real racing driver", since the conversion had been developed by genuine champions like Eris Tondelli, daredevil hill climb specialist and a test driver at Abarth from the mid Sixties.

The "Abarth Classiche 595 Conversion Kit", inspired by the period original, contains cylinder liners and pistons with diameter 73.5 mm, set of valve springs, camshaft, cylinder head gasket, oil sump, Weber 28 carburettor, and complete exhaust with the relative mounting brackets. All components are presented in a special wooden box, reproduced with markings inspired by the original and with the Abarth Classiche seal guaranteeing a product designed and built in accordance with the Scorpion Brand's purest racing tradition.

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