Abarth 207 A Corsa Boano Spider

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Keywords: abarth,boano,cars you should know,fiat,fiat 1100,italian cars,race cars,spider,two webers make everything better,vintage
Description: If you think about the versatility and simplicity of the Volkswagen Type 1 powertrain, and how many varied and wonderful creations that powerplant went into (Manx buggies, Formula V racers, light aircraft), you’ll be in the right mood to think about Carlo Abarth’s fruitful relationship with Fiat. The 207A Spider ...

If you think about the versatility and simplicity of the Volkswagen Type 1 powertrain, and how many varied and wonderful creations that powerplant went into (Manx buggies, Formula V racers, light aircraft), you’ll be in the right mood to think about Carlo Abarth’s fruitful relationship with Fiat. The 207A Spider Corso Boano is one of the high points of that long interaction, and in my mind, is one of the most beautiful.

Some of you probably know about Carlo (nee Karl) Abarth’s story, and some of you don’t and will want much more detail than I can provide here. Bear with me as I trod the middle ground. Abarth was born in Austria, and raced motorcycles very successfully for a bit. A collaboration with Ferry Porsche on aftermarket performance exhaust systems lead to a job at the wonderfully innovative (and financially disastrous) Cisitalia company in Italy, fiddling with Fiats and racing them. Cisitalia floundered after the phenomenal failure of the Cisitalia-Porsche 360 (which deserves it’s own Cars You Should Know and will certainly get it), and Abarth set up shop on his own, doing what he knew best – making Fiats fast.

That takes us to the 207A, one in a line of more involved specials, and Abarth’s first real series production racecar. Many Abarths were simply hotted-up street cars, but the 207A wore its own chassis and bodywork. Let’s begin with the Fiat bits, mainly the motor. Abarth used the Fiat 1100 as the basis, which was sort of a midsize urban runabout larger than the 500 Topolino but smaller than the 1500, which dated from before the war. The 1100’s motor was a 1089cc OHV inline four, which made somewhat less than 40 HP, and powered the rear wheels. Abarth, in typical fashion, bolted two (relatively) massive Webers onto a custom intake manifold, fitted one of his signature exhaust systems, and raised the compression slightly. The result was 66 HP, or 61 HP/L, which was not bad for the mid-1950s.

The 1100 motor was fitted longitudinally in the front of the Spider’s boxed sheetmetal chassis, driving the rear wheels in the conventional manner. Suspension was mainly carried over from the 1100. Weighing 1,151 lbs. the 207A might as well have been four atoms of anti-hydrogen compared to the mass of a modern sportscar, and performed admirably well. The body was designed by Mario Boano of Carrozzeria Boano, a barchetta -esque, lowslung, chunky design. Creased and finned, with a slinky plexiglass windscreen, the 207A looked fast standing still (as clichéd as that sounds, it is true). Finished in a wild two-tone finish and sporting prominent side-mounted exhausts (a little bit of free advertising for Abarth’s core business) for its debut at the 1955 Turin Motorshow, the 207A was well-received and Abarth filled 10 orders.

Unfortunately, with Colin Chapman’s Lotus on the scene with his even lighter Lotus 9 and 11, the 207A revealed its main fault: the chassis was overly heavy. One outing at the 12 Hours of Sebring ended in disqualification after an illegal fueling stop, even though reportedly the Abarth was leading its class at the time. The bottom line is that it simply wasn’t competitive as a racer, and is notable today mainly for its amazing Boano looks and the post-Cisitalia Abarth mystique.



Photogallery Abarth 207 A Corsa Boano Spider:







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