After leaving Cisitalia in 1948, Austrian-born engineer Carlo Abarth set up as an independent in Turin, the home of the Italian auto industry. From producing induction and exhaust systems, Abarth branched out into selling performance kits, mainly for Fiat production cars. He later built a highly successful series of sports prototypes and limited-series production cars, many of which were produced in conjunction with Carrozzeria Zagato. An innovative concern with a sporting pedigree second to none, Abarth was taken over by Fiat in 1972.
With their Fiat 500-based 595, Abarth adopted the most cost-effective method of coaxing greater power from a small engine: a new big-bore cylinder block boosted the former 499cc air-cooled twin to 593cc. Higher-compression pistons, re-worked inlet ports, a special camshaft and exhaust system, and a larger carburettor helped raise power from 22 to 30bhp, though the biggest gain was in mid-range torque. Abarth’s conversion halved the standard car’s acceleration times and endowed the 595 with a top speed of more than 75mph.
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