1956 Abarth 500GT Zagato (prototipo)
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Few cars can claim to have been the factory’s
prototype, the salon or show car and a winning race car. This is one.
From what we can determine this is one of just 8 Abarth 500GT Zagatos produced.
More significantly, it is the actual prototype of this run of cars.
Prototipo – There are many features that the prototype had that the other seven cars did not. Some of them include:
Turn indicator lights under the headlight plexiglass
Air outlet “scoops” at the tops of the rear fenders below the back glass
Three hood dash
Zagato “Z” behind the side glass
Sharp angle of the door glass top to trailing edge (rounded radius on the “production” cars)
Most of these items can be easily seen.
If one digs a bit deeper the other items are apparent. The factory modified the prototype while they were coming up with the final design for the production run. The outlet scoops were deleted and the indicator lights were moved from under the headlight covers. When an interior panel is removed one can see where the scoops were closed up. In the front trunk, plates are held by nuts on the original studs that held the indicator lights in order to cover the holes.
Turin Show Car - There are many photos showing this car on the stand in Turin in 1957 and 1958.
Race car - After it finally left the care of the factory on April 26th 1958 it won its first race the very next day at the hands of its first private owner, Luigi Argenti from Bologna. This was the II Coppa San Marino - Rimini (hillclimb) on April 27, 1958. This information was provided by John deBoer who maintains "The Italian Car Registry". He describes the car as #110* 003907. This number can be seen on the floor of the front trunk just ahead of the windshield wiper motor (I cleaned this area with solvent to expose the number.) We are pretty sure it was raced as well by the factory as it is shown in earlier photos at a race track
The Italian Car Registry also lists the following for this car:
June 1, 1958 - XX Coppa della Consuma "Maurizio Quentin" - FI (2nd/ GT500) in 9'22.7"
June 15, 1958 - IX Varese - Campo dei Fiori (11th/ GT750 & 1st/ GT500) in 9' 53.6"
June 22, 1958 - Sei Ore Automobilistiche Esso - Vallelunga, Roma (25 laps/45km) (1st/ GT500)
July 9, 1958 - Coppa Inter-Europa (2nd/ GT500) 117.969km
July 13, 1958 - Trento - Bondone (2nd/ GT500) in 13' 47"
September 26,1958 - XXI Pontedecimo - Giovi (3rd/ GT500) in 7'56.1"
From Abarth the man, the machines by: Luciano Greggio:
June 29, 1958 – Predappio-Rocca delle Caminate (hillclimb-4000kms) GT 500cc Winner: Argenti Fiat Abarth 500 GT
I imagine more history will be uncovered.
Photos of this car can be found in the following books and magazines:
Quattroruote, August 1958, page 84
Abarth by Braden and Schmidt, page 65 (car with the side scoops)
Abarth the man, the machines by Greggio, page 148 (Turin ’58 without the scoops)
FIAT 500 fuoriseri by Alessandro Sannia, pages 7, 8 and back cover
Unique three hood dash
Evidence of where the factory closed up the prototype's original air
Plate covering hole of the factory's first indicator light
position in the headlight bucket
Windshield produced on March 11, 1955
More to come....