1975 Fiat 124 Abarth Rally Group 3
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The details of this Fiat Abarth 124 Rally
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RM Sotheby's Open Roads, May
26th May 2021
1975 Fiat 124 Abarth Rally Group 3
Though Fiat’s 124 Sport Spider debuted in 1966, it was not until three years later that the petite convertible would make its mark in motorsports. Encouraged by its performance in national rally races at the hands of privateers in 1969, Fiat increased the displacement of its inline four-cylinder engine from 1.4 liters to 1.6 liters for the 1970 Italian Rally Championship. Despite fierce competition, the driver and co-pilot team of Alcide Paganelli and Ninni Russo won the national title in a 124 Sport Spider. Capitalizing on the positive momentum and its recent acquisition of Turin-based tuner Abarth, which would become Fiat’s official racing department, the company created a works team in 1971 to campaign the 124 Sport Spider. A flurry of victories followed, culminating in an overall win at the 1972 European Rally Championship by driver Rafaelle Pinto and co-driver Gino Macaluso. Rechristened the 124 Abarth Rally, Fiat further upgraded the car for homologation in the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile’s (FIA) Group 4 rally racing class toward the end of 1972. Engine displacement grew to 1.8 liters, with a claimed output of 170 horsepower in Group 4 spec. The transmission was a five-speed manual. Other key improvements included swapping the solid rear axle suspension for an independent setup, and the addition of aluminum doors and a matte black fiberglass hood, trunk lid, and hard top with acrylic rear window. Removing the bumpers further reduced weight and made way for additional driving lights up front. A single matte black mirror was mounted to the fender, while wheel-arch extensions housed 13-inch four-spoke alloy wheels. Inside, the rear seats, center console, and glovebox door were removed. An aluminum dashboard, small, leather-wrapped steering wheel, and roll cage were among the various modifications. The new version’s racing debut at the 1973 Monte Carlo Rally did not yield a podium finish, nor did it snag any first-place wins the rest of the seasons. But further improvements in 1974 would change that, with the engine gaining 16 valves and a claimed output of 200 horsepower. Sure enough, it swept all three podium spots on its first outing at the 1974 TAP Rallye de Portugal. The evolution continued for 1975, the 124 Abarth Rally’s final year of production, with the addition of a new hood design incorporating air intakes, louvered vents, and two additional driving lights. Air intakes for the brakes were also added to the rear fenders. Power output swelled to 215 horsepower with the aid of fuel injection. The 124 Abarth Rally finished its final year campaigned by Fiat works with many major wins, leading to ultimate victory in the 1975 European Rally Championship. Though Fiat would cease to campaign the car after 1975, it would continue to succeed in the hands of privateers for years to come. This particular 1975 Fiat 124 Abarth Rally was factory homologated for Group 3 racing, according to its accompanying Automobile Club D’Italia Homologation document. It was reportedly issued an FIA Historical Technical Passport for historic competition in 2009 and has been driven in events around Italy, including by its current owner, who is said to have acquired the car in 2015. It is finished in white with a black interior, which features aftermarket Sparco Evo Plus racing seats with four-point harnesses. The engine and chassis setup have reportedly been tuned by Mirabella Racing in Brescia, Italy. It is now offered with ACI homologation documentation, owner’s manual, spare, tire iron, fire extinguisher, and various parts, including period-correct seats and roll cage, believed to be original to the car.
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