The Abarth 595: Sixty years of the “small, but wicked”

Sixty years ago, in September 1963, Carlo Abarth unveiled the Fiat-Abarth 595 to the world. Based on the Fiat 500 D, a model that had been increasingly more successful since 1961, the new Fiat-Abarth 595 took its name from its displacement, which had been increased thanks to work on its cylinders and pistons and their completely new materials.

It differed from the Fiat 500 D on the outside with its eye-catching 850TC-type perforated front grille, the shiny metal "Fiat Abarth 595" lettering on the rear and hood, and the proud "World Champion" inscription on the right side, which referred to the many records held by the creations of the Officine di Corso Marche. The model’s racing spirit was further emphasized by the oversized aluminum oil pan that protruded under the rear fascia and, above all, the "Record Monza"-type dual-exit sports muffler. The result was a small but particularly aggressive and even noisy car that was loaded with 30% more power than its original version, 27hp at 5,000 rpm and a peak speed of 120 km.

Essentially, Abarth took a successful city car, the 500D, and made it a successful high-performance car. That’s the same recipe that Abarth has applied over recent months to create the New Abarth 500e, which was born out of the successful Fiat New 500 electric—the most sold electric city car in Europe.

One month later, on October 31st, 1963, the 595 was presented to the public at the Turin Motor Show. Abarth, a great business and motoring expert, decided to stand out from the crowd by offering the visitors crowding the halls of the Turin exposition a coupon for a test drive of the new release. The initiative was so successful that Carlo Abarth declared that the first 1,000 Fiat-Abarth 595 cars destined for racing homologation would soon be produced.

As a natural evolution of the 595, Carlo Abarth presented the Fiat-Abarth 695 at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1964, following the concept of a technical upgrade which soon became a pillar of Abarth tradition. Later on, the phenomenon of transformation kits allowed the main Abarth improvements to be carried onto Fiat production cars, transforming them both mechanically and aesthetically.

The brand’s values of performance and style promoted by these progenitors are now an integral part of the heritage of the Abarth range, which, in addition to the New Abarth 500e, includes the 165-hp Abarth 595 and an even more performing 180-hp Abarth 695. Both models offer thrilling performance, a roaring exhaust, and a playful, yet bold, style.

Today, the success of both models confirms that, even after sixty years, the values Carlo Abarth infused into his creations are still extremely relevant and alive in the souls of fans of the Scorpion brand.