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First unveiled in September 1963 and officially available in the following month, the first Fiat Abarth 595 was an instant hit. The brainchild of Carlo Abarth, a businessman and engine tuning expert.

Like the Abarth 595, the car’s unveiling also went against convention with visitors to the Turin Auto Show being offered coupons for test drives in the new hot hatch! Two cars and three test drivers were available to fans who lined up for hours to experience this new spectacle.

A photo of a 1963 Abarth 595 parked in front of a large Scorpion symbol, the emblem of the brand.
The first Abarth 595 featured plenty of cosmetic and performance upgrades to the Fiat 500D

Based on a Fiat 500D, the exterior featured a new front grille, Fiat Abarth 595 branding and the words “Campione del mondo” on the side to denote the many successful vehicles that had come out of Corso Marche’s workshops. Lastly, there was the new Scorpion logo along with a large aluminium oil sump and a dual-exit exhaust!

A photo of two Abarth 595s together, one old and one new. Both in white.
Fast forward sixty years and the Abarth brand remains true to its founder’s values

Engine displacement was now 593.7cc, using special cast-iron cylinders, improved camshaft and a Solex carburetor resulting in a 30% power increase. A whopping 27bhp and a top speed of 120km/h made this a particularly “assertive” little car.

Production was initially planned to allow 70 units per month but had to be upped to 250 as a result of the demand! A year later, the 595SS was born, with 5 more bhp and a top speed of 130km/h, along with several cosmetic additions. Carlo Abarth also presented the 695 and 695SS at the Geneva Auto Show in 1964.

Thus began the Abarth story and values of “performance and style”. Today, the brand’s range features a 165bhp Abarth 595, 180hp Abarth 696 and a new Abarth 500e!

Thanks for reading! For more Abarth news and reviews, visit Tarmac Life.

Words by Matthew D’Souza, pictures courtesy of Media Stellantis Worldwide.

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