Built around a basic tubular frame with fibreglass bodywork and aerodynamic lines, the Abarth SE010 2000 Sport is recognisable by its sloping nose and two large front fenders featuring the signature four headlights or "Quattro Fari", which became the car’s nickname.
The two-litre engine is rear-mounted, which is a hallmark of Abarth cars, has an oversquare design (larger bore than stroke, dimensions 88 mm x 80 mm), is fed by two Weber 58 twin-choke carburettors and features the familiar twin-overhead camshaft. Dry-sump lubrication is adopted. It is a full-blown competition engine capable of delivering 250 hp at 8700 rpm (125 hp/litre), which is very impressive for an aspirated engine built in 1968.
The gearbox, which was assisted by a single-plate dry clutch, offers five speeds plus reverse. The suspension follows the same layout as Formula cars of the period: trapezoidal swing-link at the front and swingarm at the rear, each with stabiliser bar, helical springs and telescopic hydraulic dampers. The car weighs 575 kg (only 47 kg for the chassis) and has a top speed of 270 km/h.
It is not known exactly how many of these sports-prototypes were produced: the first 25 were required for Group 4 homologation and at least another 25 were built, giving a total of over 50 units.
The Abarth SE010 2000 Sport made a victorious debut on 7 April 1968, winning the Ampus hillclimb in France and shaving 14 seconds off the race record.
Another victory followed two weeks later in the Stallavena-Boscochiesanuova event and the successes continued uninterrupted in the season’s other major European hillclimbs. But this car was not solely an uphill racer: the large 100-litre capacity of the fuel tanks suggest that the car was originally also designed for endurance racing.
On 4 September 1968, the Abarth Racing Team entered the Nürburgring 500 km with a trio of SE10 cars specially equipped with 1600 cc engines. A historic 1-2-3 victory followed, with Peter Schetty finishing first (covering 502.370 km at an average speed of 143.8 km/h), followed by Johannes Ortner in second and Arturo Merzario in third position: three Abarths in the first three places. The car was homologated in the Group 4 sports car category and was chosen by many private drivers following its success at the Nürburgring, partly due to its highly competitive price.
Very few specimens have survived, so it is a real privilege to be able to admire one at the 22nd edition of the Castel Arquato-Vernasca historic hillclimb re-enactment. The Abarth SE010 2000, which is a genuine racing thoroughbred that is sure to reawaken the passion for motoring heritage.
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