It is only a few months since the 500 Abarth was launched, but there is no stopping Abarth & C. S.p.A. as they bring several more new products, the 500 Abarth Assetto Corse (top) and 500 Abarth esseesse (bottom) to the Paris Motor Show.


One of the most recent partnerships to be sealed by Abarth was in the field of sports clothing, with Basic Net, owner of the prestigious brands Kappa, Robe di Kappa, Superga and K-way. Kappa is concentrating on several key assets such as the all-Italian styling and design, cutting-edge materials and technology, sportiness and product quality.

It is only a few months since the 500 Abarth was launched, but there is no stopping Abarth & C. S.p.A. as they bring several more new products to the Paris Motor Show. The major new developments include a world preview of the “esseesse” kit for the 500 Abarth, the Assetto Corse Abarth and a new collection of technical equipment produced in partnership with Basic Net (owner of the prestigious Kappa, Robe di Kappa, Superga and K-way brands).

In particular, the spotlight will be on the “esseesse” kit for the 500 Abarth, which evokes the glorious history of the Scorpion. Carlo Abarth always concentrated his efforts on developing the performance of standard-production cars, but it was only after a meeting with Vittorio Valletta (President of Fiat from 1946-1966) that the conditions were put in place for development of the famous conversion kit. In 1958, the year in which Abarth & C. Spa was recognised as a solid international company, an important agreement was sealed which allowed Abarth & C. to use the semi-finished bodyshells of cars on which they could design their conversions using special parts.  

This link to a major car manufacturer allowed the company, based in Corso Marche (Turin) to develop and fine-tune its preparation of small vehicles. Carlo Abarth’s aim was to design a simple, standardised performance enhancement technique so that any workshop, mechanic or even the customer himself could fit the parts to their vehicles.

The new Abarth – underlining its desire to carry on the historic work of Abarth&Co by bringing it up to date – now brings us the first conversion kit dedicated to the 500 Abarth. The whole concept of the Paris stand is based on car preparation, with the presentation of the 500 Abarth “esseesse” kit and the Assetto Corse Abarth version. The public will be able to see the various levels of Abarth “empowerment”, through which everyone can find their ideal performance level. From the entry-level car, the range continues with a specific kit, through to the “assetto corse” racing set-up which represents the ultimate Abarth performance.

Original and extremely eye-catching, the display area is characterised by those elements of the Scorpion philosophy that have made it so unique and popular worldwide: the tough spirit, speed, and an innate desire to win. Compared to previous shows, nothing has changed as far as the brand’s distinctive identity is concerned: the colour red, a great passion for cars, the red and white chequered flag used to signal the end of endurance races (the competitions in which Abarth has notched up its greatest achievements), and the yellow and red shield with the black scorpion, representing the stinging zodiac sign of this mechanical genius. The beautiful polished white floor only adds to the dynamic look of the stand, while the materials and finishes almost fade into the background in order to show off the car and the kits – the real protagonists of the stand.  

500 Abarth and the “esseesse” kit are sharing the Paris stage with another star: the 500 Abarth Assetto Corse, to represent the coming together of two worlds: racing and ordinary road driving. Each draws strength from the other in a mix of past and present, the historic and the contemporary, tradition and technology – an integral part of the Abarth story. The stand also makes room for technology, with interactive features like the car configurator so that visitors can view the different versions of each model. The parts look so real you can almost reach out and touch them. There is also a series of interactive screens which brings the Abarth world to life: a way to discover, hear and share that empowerment – the capacity to make a normal product into something outstanding – which makes Abarth unique.  

Paris is the perfect opportunity to really find out about the world of Abarth preparation which is already proving to be a great hit with the “Assetto” and “esseesse” kits available for the Grande Punto Abarth 1.4 Turbo T-Jet 155 CV. Over 600 kits have been sold in just a few months. The distribution network, unique in its class and steadily growing, has been a key factor in achieving these significant results. The European target has been achieved, with 100 dealers now operating in Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Switzerland, Austria, the Netherlands, Greece, Belgium, Portugal, Spain and Poland. There are 100 official converters and about 200 workshops. By year-end Abarth will make its début in non-European markets, first of all in Japan which is keenly awaiting the Scorpion’s arrival.

From the racing world:

Technology, performance and safety

Abarth’s aim - to bring the technology and values of the racing world to the market is not just about producing road going cars and conversion kits. It also includes vehicle preparation services for customers, organising single-make championships, direct participation in national and international competitions through to the creation of clothing and accessories in the Abarth style. These are all areas which the public will be able to discover and appreciate at first hand on their visit to the Abarth stand in Paris.

The 500 Abarth “esseesse” kit

In line with the philosophy which has distinguished Abarth for half a century – to bring its racing experience to the market for road going cars and open up the world of motor sport – the 500 Abarth with the “esseesse” kit is another important piece of the jigsaw in the already ambitious project of Fiat Group Automobiles. True to Abarth tradition, the "esseesse” kit comes in an elegant wooden case and can only be sold and installed by the official network of Abarth converters, guaranteeing compliance with the highest testing and safety standards. 

In detail, the kit allows the 1.4 16v Turbo T-Jet engine to achieve a maximum power of 160 CV (147 KW) at 5750 g/min with peak torque of 230 Nm at 3000 g/min in “Sport Mode”. The result is a truly thrilling performance: top speed is 211 km/h with acceleration from 0-100 kph in just 7.4 seconds. In line with the Abarth concept of preparation, the “esseesse” kit uses perforated and ventilated front brake discs (diameter 284mm x 22mm), perforated rear brake discs (diameter 240mm x 11mm, high-performance front brake pads, springs that are specially lowered in comparison to the original car and Abarth “esseesse” 7” x 17” ET35 alloy wheels, finished in white or titanium, teamed with 205/40  ZR 17 Pirelli Pzero tires. The 500 Abarth “esseesse” kit is topped off by the specific air filter powered by BMC, four tire pressure sensors, “esseesse” badges for the engine hood and the tailgate, and a specially designed, highly original key cover.

Back on the track: “500 Abarth Assetto Corse”

Almost 43 years after Carlo Abarth drove his last record-breaking car, Abarth is making its racing comeback with the new “500 Abarth Assetto Corse”, the ultra-sporty little Scorpion designed by Fiat Group Automobiles Styling Centre and developed by Abarth’s team of engineers and designers. It looks like a true racing car as can be seen from the 1400 cc engine (16 valves and 200 bhp), wide tracking, ultra-light 17’’ white racing alloys, lowered suspension, racing mirrors and numbers down the sides.  

Available in pastel grey with red Abarth side stripes, the “500 Abarth Assetto Corse” has an aggressive front end complete with Abarth badge, below which are the oversized bumper, aerodynamic spoiler and screen printed grilles, replacing the plastic ones on the standard version. On the engine hood, apart from the traditional hooks, we find the two carbon air intakes complete with scorpion. The rear of the vehicle has a white spoiler, Abarth badge and double exhaust. Last but not least, in true Abarth style, down the sides is the sword logo which represents the brand's racing image, and the roof with its red stripe and four white checks, just like the winning Abarth 850TC of the 1960s.

Inside, the “500 Abarth Assetto Corse” has a racing-approved roll-bar, hollowed out to make it faster and lighter (the car weighs about 120 kg less than the road going version). The ergonomically-designed seat, special racing steering wheel and carbon door panels make the 500 Abarth Assetto Corse a true racing car – tiny but with a tough character. However, it has something extra: it has been designed to be cheap to run. Abarth has once again made racing affordable by promoting a “democratic” approach to the sport, demonstrated by the single-make 500 Abarth Challenge Trophy.

500 Abarth Challenge

In the best Scorpion tradition, in 2009 Abarth will be organising a single-make trophy featuring the 500 Abarth Assetto Corse: the car will be produced directly by Abarth and will be sold to drivers "race-ready", through the dealer network. The Italian round of the Trophy will be held together with the prestigious Ferrari Challenge: free qualifying, official qualifying and two races each of 30 minutes, the tried and tested weekend racing formula. Meanwhile, abroad, drivers can choose from the trophy competitions in several countries (Portugal, Spain, Germany and Great Britain have already been confirmed), or an international challenge to be held in conjunction with the World Touring Car Championship, according to the same technical and racing regulations as the Italian trophy.

The participants will test each other’s skills on the most famous circuits of Europe: Monza, Vallelunga, Brno, Paul Ricard, Imola and Mugello for the series paired with the Ferrari Challenge; Valencia, Porto, Brands Hatch, Brno, Oschersleben and Monza for the WTCC (World Touring Car Championship) series. At the end of the season, the winners of the national and European series will meet in a grand finale. The technical characteristics of the car, and the racing formula, have been  specifically designed in order to make participation in the trophy extremely affordable.

Abarth partners

Still with the aim of borrowing all the useful performance and safety features from the world of racing, Abarth has set up a network of partners including Brembo, BMC, Sabelt, FPT and Magneti Marelli, with whom it will design and develop dedicated products for its own models. One example is the Blue&me™ MAP with telemetry function, developed by Magneti Marelli. This is a highly innovative extra, which combines service and sporting performance with the benefits of the Blue&me™ MAP – all thanks to the experience gained in the racing world.  

The special features of this device include: the monitoring function, which displays the vehicle's key settings (engine rotation speed, vehicle speed, current gear). The TRACK function, accessible if the driver is on one of the tracks stored in the SD memory, displays extra information such as the car's position on the track (thanks to GPS) and lap time. The configuration function stores the telemetry data from a given route, and matches it to a personalised session.

Apart from the partners drawn from the automotive world, many partnerships have been formed with the aim of expanding Abarth’s business opportunities and reaching objectives to secure the brand’s image and positioning by expanding potential for customer contact. The Abarth stand at the Paris Motor Show will present the first “prototypes” of the collection to be worn by the racing teams in 2009. The kit will be sold by the Kappa distribution network and in exclusive Abarth showrooms throughout Europe.  

One of the most recent partnerships to be sealed was in the field of sports clothing, with Basic Net, owner of the prestigious brands Kappa, Robe di Kappa, Superga and K-way. Kappa is concentrating on several key assets such as the all-Italian styling and design, cutting-edge materials and technology, sportiness and product quality.  

The partnership agreement with Abarth is designed to promote these strategic assets. Abarth is an Italian brand that symbolises technology, cutting-edge performance, and compact, high-end vehicles with a strong racing tradition. The business agreement between the two companies is based on this sporting element. Kappa has always favoured winning brands with a strong sporting tradition, and Abarth, with its unique collection of trophies, is a clear demonstration of this. The project will start with the sponsorship of the racing team and will continue with a licence agreement, with the aim of providing end customers with state-of-the-art clothing coupled with the most exciting aspects of the motor racing world. The clothes have all been made from innovative technical materials, favouring concepts which are closely linked to the racing world, such as lightness, strength and breathability. 

The flagship products of the Kappa collection designed especially for Abarth will be on show in plexiglass cases at the Paris Motor Show. One of the most hi-tech garments is the Kombat, a jersey which has revolutionised the concept and style of football strips but has been adapted to incorporate the technical requirements of other sports such as cycling, sailing, rugby and now also motor racing.

The racing team

Racing has always been an important part of what Abarth is about. Now in its third year of competition, the Grande Punto Abarth S2000 will be entering the Intercontinental Rally Challenge with Giandomenico Basso and Anton Alen. It is a prestigious championship which launched the Grande Punto Abarth S2000 onto the international scene - Basso won the first edition in 2006 as well as the title of European Champion. In Italy, after winning the 2006 and 2007 drivers’ championships and the 2007 constructors’ title, the Abarth team has continued to notch up awards and top-level results, with the drivers Navarra and Travaglia. The competitiveness of the Grande Punto Abarth S2000, created and developed by the technicians at Abarth, has been underscored by the many victories which the drivers and private teams have won in various Italian and international championships, out of more than 200 entries during the 2008 season.  

In tandem with the activities of the first team, Abarth is continuing its commitment to the single-make trophies – another established part of the brand’s sporting tradition. This is demonstrated by the “API-IP ORO DIESEL”, now in its second edition and reserved for the Fiat Grande Punto R3D.

© 2008 Interfuture Media/Italiaspeed