Our beloved classic car environment is now truly immersed in the exhibition season. Last month I attended Cologne and Brussels and there’s of course much more to come during the remainder of the winter months, so a clean-up of my laptop was long overdue in order to make space for all the pictures I will be taking. It was while moving older pictures to an external harddisc that I paused to browse through my pictures from the Padova Auto e Motor d’epoca back in 2011, and this terribly elegant coupé immediately stood out. With equal amounts of credibility in both name and design, this really is a proper exotic – only with FIAT mechanicals to be found under the skin. The Abarth 2200 was an Italian hybrid of the sixties.
We’ve recently had quite a strong focus on the seventies and eighties here on ViaRETRO, featuring a Lancia Montecarlo and Matra Bagheera as our Prime Finds, looking at the stylish VW SP2 equally from the seventies and a Mazda concept car from the early eighties. Then there were those excellent never-published-before pictures from the 1985 RAC Rally. Both Dave and I even dipped into the nineties with the BMW E36 and Mitsubishi 3000GT respectively. So this is just to counteract that trend and get things back on track with a beautiful classic from the best decade of automotive history: The 1960s. The Abarth 2200 simply oozes sixties styling at its very best and sums up everything I love about that era. It really is my kind of car. An exotic – only not from the usual crowd of Maserati, Bristol, Facel Vega, AC and the likes. I would argue that the Abarth name is easily in the same league, but it’s usually associated with cars which were both smaller and served a very different purpose.
An Abarth with a cubic capacity exceeding 1-litre? Naaah… And one which wasn’t built with the sole intention of lapping race tracks as rapidly as physically possible? Surely not! Well, think again, as not every Abarth built was a FIAT 600 based racecar. Granted, many were, which of course effects how way the marque is perceived today. But even if most were developed for race tracks and hillclimbs, there were still exceptions. In fact, a while back Anders went as far at crowning the very first street Abarth as the prettiest car ever produced! He also stated that after building only three of these little coupés, Carlo Abarth turned his focus on pure race-bred machines. But not forever, as the much bigger and more luxurious Abarth 2200 and 2400 were aimed squarely at Mr. GT-man.
I came across the depicted Abarth in Padova seven years ago. Its full name is: Abarth 2200 Allemano Coupé, and it was from the old school of proper coachbuilt cars – developed, designed and assembled by hand, and subsequently produced in miniscule numbers. The model was first introduced in 1959, and just like most other things developed by Abarth, the mechanical components all originated from FIAT. Only in this case, it was from FIAT’s period range-topping FIAT 2100, which in itself was a highly competent and respected model in its market segment. Especially the excellent 6-cylinder Lampredi engine had – and still has – many admirers.
Of course, Abarth just couldn’t help himself from “breathing upon” every FIAT engine he got between his hands. That applied to FIAT’s own cars, and of course even more so to this fine Allemano Coupé which proudly bore his own name on the badge. The end result was a slightly increased capacity and not least three Weber carburettors, all of which added up to a convincing 140hp. Enough to propel the elegant coupé beyond the magic 200 km/h, which was of course considered seriously rapid back then.
Yet for me, that isn’t what this car is about at all. No, I would much rather emphasize its merits as an elegant coupé from a long lost era where proper GT-cars where valued as one thing, while sportscars were a totally different thing. The Abarth 2200/2400 was a true GT of the very traditional type. Rare, beautiful, full of heritage and thoroughly discreet. In every perceivable way, a strong and confident car for the strong and confident Mr. GT-man. A classic car which I would LOVE to have in my garage!
So when revisiting these old pictures made me want to write about the grand Abarth 2200 Allemano Coupé, it’s simply because it’s the perfect antidote to all the newer classics we’ve recently featured here on ViaRETRO. Just being that decade older lends it a design, an interior and a general aura which I personally find much more charming. Add to that, both names, language, culture and a country which is so full of passion, and it’s obvious to me why I’m ready to commit full-hearted to this exotic GT.
Even so, it’s amusing to think that only a mere four years later, the Germans gave us the iconic 911. The Abarth was on a blind road to nowhere, while the Porsche was already into fifth gear and charging down the Autobahn. That’s why the Abarth will never reach the same level of fame as the 911. But then, this is a discreet GT, and I’m not even sure the Abarth Allemano would have been entirely comfortable with such hype.
Long live the pure and true sixties GT…