A piece of jewelry from 1953 comes under the hammer at RM / Sothebys in August. A rare Abarth 1100 sport will be auctioned at the Pebble-Beach-Concours d’Elegance. The car is remembered there: in 2015, the Sportcoupé with the chassis number 205-104 won its class and was even nominated for the title “Best of Show” – an remarkable achievement for a vehicle from the post-war period.
The offered vehicle is the last of four built Abarth 205 with competition chassis, engine and gearbox coming from the Fiat 1100, the bodywork comes from Ghia. Believed to have been designed by Giovanni Michelotti, it was constructed concurrently with the Ghia-bodied Chryslers of the same period. The Abarth echoed the Chryslers’ broad oval grille opening, wide low stance, and canopy-like roof element, but with a delightful smaller scale.
Ghia exhibited the car on its stand at the 1953 Turin Salon, the same show at which the 1100-103 made its debut, thus emphasizing the abilities of Abarth and Ghia to maximize the performance and style of the new model. Aldo Farinelli, in his report for the Italian magazine Motor Italia, described the car as “A Masterpiece of Design.”
Abarth sold the car to American Bill Vaughn, who exhibited it at the 1954 New York Auto Show as the Vaughn SS Wildcat, with “the first overhead camshaft V-8 in the USA.” If Vaughn did indeed re-power the car with a V-8, no photos of the installation survive, and the car never saw the limited production run that he envisioned. It afterward was lost in time until 1982, when it was discovered by Russ Baer in a barn in Ashton, Maryland, and ultimately saved by longtime, beloved enthusiast, Pat Braden, both of whom helped to preserve the car and contributed to its history. An interesting clue to its earlier history is a parking sticker in the rear window, reading “Litton Industries Maryland Division 1958.”
The rare Abarth passed through the hands of two additional collectors before being purchased by the consignor in 2010. The consignor spent the next five years on a thorough and correct restoration. As a dedicated enthusiast working for the love of the car, he painstakingly researched the authenticity and accuracy of every component. Included in the car’s history file are high-resolution color photographs taken at Turin, as well as other period articles and documentation from throughout the Abarth’s fascinating past.
After completion of the restoration, the Abarth was exhibited at the 2015 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, where it won its class and was nominated for Best of Show, a remarkable achievement for a post-war automobile. Not shown, photographed, or published since being shown at Pebble Beach, it remains a remarkable performance masterpiece in the Italian style, ready for further concours successes or driving events.