My Car Quest

November 19, 2018

What Is A Fiat Abarth 1300/124?

by Don Meluzio –

I was in the Army and stationed with my wife Diane in Germany from June of 1969 until November of 1970. We bought a brand new Fiat 850 Sport Coupe in 1969 and had a wonderful time driving that car all over Germany and Switzerland.

It was a fun car to drive, and revved like crazy. Of course I bought an Abarth exhaust almost immediately. I really felt that little car was my Ferrari. I learned everything I could about all things Abarth, and very quickly realized that if you ever wanted a REALLY “cool” car, you needed an Abarth 1300. Although there were more radical models available, such as the 1000 OTR.

I knew that they required more maintenance and could be a little more difficult to keep in tune. I decided that the 1300 had more torque and was simple to tune and maintain. I guess I better explain what the 1300 model consists of.

Fiat Abarth 1300/124

Fiat Abarth 1300/124

The Fiat 1300/124 or the 1324 as it was known in Europe was the result of the Genius of Mario Colucci, one of Carlo Abarth’s chief Engineers. It was basically a Fiat 850, with the engine out of a Fiat 124, which was a front engine car, mounted in the rear engine compartment!

Fiat Abarth 1300/124

Fiat Abarth 1300/124

It really looks like it belongs there. Colucci designed a tubular bracket that bolts where the original engine mounts were. The conversion is a little more than what meets the eye. The 850 has a rear engine compartment mounted radiator. The 1324 has a grill opening, and a front mounted radiator with long cooling tubes running from front to rear. Abarth bored out the engine to 1280 CCs, and installed special 10.5 to 1 Abarth pistons. The reason is that the engine remains almost 100% Fiat!

Fiat Abarth 1300/124

Colucci also put his special touch to the suspension. He installed lower, stiffer springs front and rear, and stiffer shocks . He used 5 1/2″ wheels with a deep offset to widen the track, and make it look “bad”. They installed a special leather wrapped steering wheel, and some cars were equipped with special oil temperature, and pressure gauges.

Fiat Abarth 1300/124

The obvious visual changes were the Abarth Grille, the 1300 stripes, and chrome Abarth 1300 letters on the rear. There are a few more minor modifications that you can’t see like a modified bell housing, and more powerful starter, and a modified front trunk floor.

Fiat Abarth 1300/124

I installed the optional deep oil pan, and the rally windshield wipers. As Byron LaMotte said in his recent article about his Corvair Sprint the 1324 was also referred to as the Poor Mans Porsche. The 1324 was actually a very important model in Abarth history. It was the final car he built with someone else’s engine, all subsequent Abarths were equipped with an in house Abarth engine.

Fiat Abarth 1300/124

My car still sports its AB204 stamped original engine. 1324s are extremely rare in the USA, I would take a wild guess that there aren’t more than 15, and I can probably name most of the owners, but who knows!

Fiat Abarth 1300/124

It only took me 45 years to finally buy one. I knew of this car in 2007, as fate would have it I didn’t pull the trigger fast enough, and someone else bought it. I followed the car, and found that it was to be sold again, and this time I bought it. The fellow who restored it did a marvelous job, and we are now internet friends and at times talk about our car.

It reminds me so much of that little pocket rocket back in Germany in 1969.

~~~

Don Meluzio is the president of the Iso & Bizzarrini Owner’s Club and lives in Pennsylvania USA.

New photos by Wolfgang Blaube.

Sell your classic car on My Car Quest – click here.

Fiat Abarth 1300/124

Owner’s Manual

Fiat Abarth 1300/124

Warranty Card

Fiat Abarth 1300/124

Fiat Abarth 1300/124

Auto Crossing In The ’70s

Fiat Abarth 1300/124

Abarth

Summary
What is A Fiat Abarth 1300/124?
Article Name
What is A Fiat Abarth 1300/124?
Description
This Fiat Abarth is a real little pocket rocket.
Author

Comments

  1. Don,

    Just read you article on MyCarQuest about your Abarth, fantastic car!
    My firs car was a Fiat 850 Limousine and I always wanted a Sport but it was too expensive that time.
    Never heared about the Abarth 1300. It is amazing!
    Congratulate for this wonderful beauty!

    Best regards now from the sunny Zakynthos,

    Adam

    PS: If maybe once you consider to sell it please let me know.

    • Don Meluzio says:

      Hello Adam, so good to hear from you. I miss seeing you, we had such a great time in Bresso! You had Mike and I laughing every day. How is that beautiful Rivolta? I am glad you liked my car, I will let you know if I ever care to sell it! I hope all is well in Hungary. Hello to Zsolt for me. Don

      • Hi Don and Adam,

        Nice car and nice pictures! I hope I can see it if I go to the US and you’ll take me for a ride! 😉
        Greetings from Croatia – not as sunny as Zakynthos but who cares we have Karlovacko beer!
        Cheers, Zsolt

      • Don Meluzio says:

        Hi Zsolt, As I told Adam, I miss you guys! I assume you are in Croatia on vacation. I understand it is beautiful. All the best to you and yours! Don

  2. Georgeg20 says:

    Don, great story. I thought that this was the car you originally had until I reached the final paragraphs. I am so excited for you. I remember Italy in the mid 70’s, too bad I left before I got my license. If I could drive, this car would be the one!

  3. Hi Don, Thanks for the write up. What a wonderful little car. Growing up, I always wanted a Series 1 850 Coupe, but wound-up with the OTAS instead. Best regards, Rob

  4. Don Meluzio says:

    Thanks George, My original Fiat 850 Sport Coupe, (Freddie) came home to Philadelphia with me in 1970. Within a year I decided that it was too small for the major highways, and too underpowered. I sold it and saw the guy 2 or 3 months later and he told me he blew the motor and junked it!! I was shocked! My Fiat 1300 is much more usable with all those extra ccs’, it is much easier to drive. Thanks, Don

    • Hi Don,

      That are great pictures!! You bought one of the best restored (and original) Abarth 1300/124 there is. It is restored by Eric and I’ve seen many pictures of the restoration process. I love this car and the simple way it is build by Abarth using “standard” Fiat components.
      I’m building a second series 1300/124 replica and hope to enjoy it as much as you do when it’s finished.

      Best regards, Patrick

      • Yes, Patrick, Eric did a wonderful job. You may know he is now restoring a Fiat 124 Coupe, I love the coupes more than the Convts. If you need any photos when you are building your 1300 just let me know. Don

  5. Don Meluzio says:

    Thanks for the post Rob. The OTAS is another one of these unknown little Fiats, but as you know it is a fabulous car. All the best, Don

  6. Rich Truesdell says:

    Mike, I had hoped to introduce you to my friend Charles Maranto at Concorso Italiano. He displayed the 1968 Fiat Abarth 2000 OT America about 15 cars away from your car. Here’s a link to a photo of his car on display at Concorso Italiano.

    https://fbcdn-sphotos-f-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-xpf1/t1.0-9/10422014_10153093910674619_7065503642274948019_n.jpg

    Chuck has a wonderful collection of small-displacement Italian road rockets that I photographed over the past Christmas holiday when I visited his garage outside of Indianapolis. Here’s a link to the photos I took last December.

    http://public.fotki.com/automotivetraveler/chuck-maranto-collection/?view=roll

    Don, do you know Chuck?

    • Don Meluzio says:

      Rich, Kind of a neat story of how I met Chuck. I put a post on the Fiat 850 Yahoo site that I bought my Fiat Abarth 1300 at Bonhams Auction. You have to love the internet, I posted that some Europeans ran me up quite a bit at the auction. Chuck posted , ” I don’t know anything about anyone from Europe, but that was me bidding against you from 30 grand to 40 Grand!” We’ have become pretty good Fiat Buddies ever since. I looked at your photos, and he has a marvelous Abarth/Fiat collection, and he’s a great guy!! Don

  7. sei cilindri says:

    Nice article on a wonderful car. I know they also did one with the spare tire sticking out of the front horizontly for a better weight distribution
    Was that an option or a different version ?

    • Don Meluzio says:

      The Abarth with the tire out the front is a Fiat Abarth 2000 OTS, they are very rare and I would think quite valuable. I am not sure, but the number produced is very low. Neat car, supposedly very fast! Don

      • Officially it is called Abarth OT 2000 Coupé Ameirca.
        Only three where build: one (red) is in Germany and is owned by Leo Aumüller. one (white)is in Switzerland and is owned by Engelbert Moël and the third (also in red) is in Japan and is owned by Shiro .

        sins non of the three is ever been auctioned there is no price to name for an original OT 2000 America.

      • Don Meluzio says:

        Patrcik, I should have known that Englebert Moel would own one, I have been to Leo Aumullers shop and don’t rememebr seeing one. What wonderful Abarth Collections! Don

  8. Don,

    Great to see your name and one of your very cool cars in print. Cool car, great article and, I’m guessing, photos by our mutual friend from Hamburg.

    It was almost exactly a year ago that our cars were on the show field next to each other at Pebble Beach. It was a fun day.

    • Don Meluzio says:

      Hi Myron, I miss seeing you and your family. That was an incredible day at Pebble Beach. Maybe we get to do it again on the 60th Anniversary. Yes, you are right they are Wolfies’ great photos. Myron is refering to our good friend from Hamburg, Germany Wolfgang Blaube. You may notice at the end of the photos we credit Wolfgang. He uses light very well, and doesn’t like cars sitting still. Thus all of the moving shots. Great writer and very accomplished photographer. Don

  9. Rich Truesdell says:

    Patrick, there was a fouth 2000 OT America Coupe and as I mentioned earlier, it was on display this year at Concorso Italiano.

    Here’s a link to the photo I took of the car.

    https://fbcdn-sphotos-f-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-xpf1/t1.0-9/10422014_10153093910674619_7065503642274948019_n.jpg

    I planned to get a complete photo shoot of the car while in Pebble Beach but it didn’t work out. I’m planning on photographing the car later in the fall or over the Christmas holiday.

    Here’s the text that the owner, Charles Maranto, displayed on the car (seen on the windshield in the photo above).

    History of the Abarth OT America Coupe

    Karl Abarth had a great interest in the new for 1965 2-liter Porsche 911 produced by his good friend Ferdinand Porsche. He correctly determined that the new Porsche would sell well in the USA, and that his 2-liter Fiat-derived twin-cam engine would, in fact. Be superior in performance. He decided to marry this 2-liter engine to the Fiat 850 coupe body, one of the most beautiful but simple designs in the Fiat inventory, and hopefully, produce a Porsche killer for US consumption. It was named the 2000 OT America Coupe assuming that it would sell well in America. Three heavily redesigned chassis were ordered built and were completed and ready for testing in early 1966

    The future of this 150 mph screamer suddenly came to a grinding hault when the Abarth factory learned that the Porsche 911nwas being sold for $5,000 less than Abarth could build the America Coupe. The project was immediately scrubbed and the three completed cars were offered for private sale.

    Chassis # 001 was purchased by Formula 1 ace Niki Lauda, # 002 was sold to a racing customer in Japan named Shiro and # 003 was sold to a Swiss Abarth collector, Engelbert Moël.

    Leo Alumuller, a huge Abarth collector in Germany and angry that he was not allowed to purchase one of the three, immediately commissioned a fourth example to be built not by Abarth, who refused, but by Moerenhout Racing in Belgium. Guy Moerenhout was a long-time rally driver for the Abarth factory and was very familiar with the car and had access to original drawings and dimensions. With Abarth’s blessing and with these factory drawings, the car was completed in mid-1967 and the West German Government allowed the car to be titled as a 2000 OT America Coupe, in a similar fashion to what Shelby American now calls a “continuation” car. The 2000 competed heavily in rallies, road races and hill clims over the years and eventually by Moerenhout in 2008.

    Abarth was right on one point, the car easily outperformed the 911 that it was designed to beat. Where he could not comete with the vast network of dealers in the United States that had gained much respect from the American public. On the other hand, the Abarth OT 1000 and OT 1300/124, built on the same Fiat 950 Coupe chassis, was a sales success both in Europe and the United States.

    • Hi Rich,

      Charles bought his car from Guy Moerenhout, This is the link to the story of his car: http://forum.abarth-gmr.be/index.php/board,176.0.html

      It is build (by Guy Moerenhout) from a (original) Abarth 1300/124 with front fuel tank out of a Fiat 600 and 130 BHP engine from a Fiat Ritmo 130TC.

      I know this car and it is a (very nice) replica , also stated by its builder Guy Moerenhout.

      There never was a fourth car….

      At this moment there are 5 times more OT 2000 America replicas then there are originals. Never the less they are great fun tot drive..

      Best regards Patrick

      • Rich Truesdell says:

        Patrick,

        As I noted, I’m only relaying the information that Chuck provided to me and that was on the car at Concorso Italiano.

        Thanks to the link to the additional information.

        It looks like I will be photographing the car in three weeks and will post photos when I do.

        Richard Truesdell

  10. Brian Underdahl says:

    Boy, that looks a lot like the 1300/124 I owned around 1970. I don’t remember exactly what number mine was in the Abarth Registry, but I’d be happy to provide some vintage photos if you’d like. From the comment about it being restored by someone called Eric, I’m guessing it’s the same car (I was in contact with a guy named Eric a while back who was restoring my old car and provided him with a lot of original paperwork).

    If I recall correctly, mine had dual side-draft Webbers and a tubular header exhaust that had four tubes that went down to two near the front of the small muffler. The two went straight through and exited in dual chrome tips. I think someone later went to a single Webber and a 4 into 1 exhaust.

    When I bought mine I had to tow it home because the right axle shaft had been twisted off. I had several problems with the gearbox–I think the previous owner had abused it. I also had constant problems with blowing radiator hoses underneath. But when it was running, it felt like an enclosed go-kart–a lot of fun.

    Brian

    • Don Meluzio says:

      Hello Brian, Yes this is the same car that you owned back in the 70s. Don’t you just love the power of the internet, and the amount of Abarth people that read My Car Quest! Today is my Birthday, (you just made it sweeter!), how great to bump into you this way. I’d love to send you some up to date photos of the car. Did you see that photo of the guy autocrossing my car in the 70s. Is that you?? Anything that you can pass along about the car would be greatly appreciated. It is back to stock now,Eric did a great job chasing down the original parts. Yes, it is a great car. I would love to hear from you, why don’t you contact me off of My Car Quest and send me an email at DMeluzio@aol.com. Don

  11. Can anybody give me some infos about the 124/1300 engine please ?
    Can the stock 124 1197cc block be re-bored to 1280 cc safely … i mean is there enough space between the cylinder walls to increase their diameter ?
    What kind of pistons are needed to achieve the final result ?
    During mid seventies there was an optional Abarth set that was supposed to convert 124s to 1300 but i have no further reference .
    Can anyone help
    Thanks in advance

  12. Don Meluzio says:

    Yannis, I wrote this article, but that doesn’t make me an Abarth expert, but I think I know enough Abarth guys to get you the right answers.(I hope). First of all, I believe the 1320 engine is a just an 1197 cc engine overbored from 73mm to 75.5 , the compression ratio was then raised to 10.5-1. Now the question is, who makes those pistons!! I think I would contact Bernimotori.com . Toni Berni is the owner and a great, honest guy.
    Some things to know? are do you own a Fiat 850 sport coupe to convert?? What are you trying to do??
    The old Fiat & Abarth Tricks by Greg Schmidt also is a big help. I hope that is a start. Don

    • Thanks for your answer .
      I am up to built an 1300 ohv engine based on a common 124 . In the beginning i thought the stock 1197cc engine wasn’t feasible to be overbored over 74mm .But Abarth has choosed this bore method rather than a new 1290cc block ……as well as for scorpione SS .
      I have great access to original Fiat OEM Numbers but limited to Abarth ones .
      Can you pls informe of the OEM part Number of your cylinder -head it is stamped between the 2nd & 3rd plug hole and starts with 41……. 7 digit Number .
      I want to see which other parts are interchangeable

  13. Don Meluzio says:

    Yannis, Sorry it took a couple of days, we got about 10 inches of snow, and I was busy plowing and digging out!! I looked at the cylinder head today. The part # is 4136088, I hope that makes sense! It also says 124B000

    Don

  14. Ronald McDonald says:

    Hi, I owned one of the very first 1300 to come to Califonria. Got it from Rich Motors in Glendale. Had to order it special. Have pictures of it and also my very first car a 1960 Fiat Abarth Zagato. Just loved the 1300 !!

  15. Don Meluzio says:

    Ronald, I would love to see a picture of your 1300. I also own a 59 Fiat abarth zagato along with my 1300. What color was the 1300??? White with red???

    • Ron McDonald says:

      It was red…and I had special rims made for it with Goodyear Blue Streak racing tires. I found virtually nothing on the road that could out handle it.

  16. DMeluzio says:

    Ron, I try to keep track of any 1300/124s that exist, any idea where it went and where it is today?? Don

    • Ron McDonald says:

      Not really…I sold it to a friend’s son and then we moved to Idaho and have no idea where it is. That was 43 yrs ago.(wow I’m getting old! ) I know where I wish it was…in my garage!!

  17. Gil Nicholls says:

    I’m in Langley BC and have a white 1300/124 that I bought from Mahlon Craft 9-10 years ago. I believe it was owed by Chuck Maranto before that. It was raced at some point in the northeast and may have been by Chuck. Has a roll bar in it. The body is very rusty in spots, the engine is not original and the car is in rough shape overall but definitely restorable. It did not come with the original rear engine panel but pretty much all other parts seem to be there. I’ve collected lots of new parts over the years including a few original Abarth pieces and I have 2 stock coupes for donor sheet metal and other parts as needed. Was able to see Eric’s 1300/124 in Seattle when it was being restored. I have finally just finished my workshop (after only 11 years) and am now able to start work on it at last.. If anyone has info. on these cars to help me along the restoration process, it would be appreciated. Have always owned at least one Fiat since 1972.

    • Don Meluzio says:

      Hi Gil, I recognize your name, probably from the Fiat 850 Forum? I can supply you with photos as you go along with your work. I also have a friend who bought his 20 some years ago and is restoring it, also another email buddy who bought his new, and is very knowledgeable. You can contact me at DMeluzio@aol.com Don

  18. Rich Truesdell says:

    It’s great fun to see activity on this thread start back up. I posted a link to this this morning on my Facebook page

    https://www.facebook.com/richard.truesdell.3

    and Mike was so kind to comment on my post.

    I tend to post a lot of eclectic automotive items on my Facebook page, some in the same vein as Mike does here.

    Don Meluzio, if you’re watching this thread, we should meet the next time I’m in NJ visiting my mom or certainly during Pebble Beach week. My EMA is richtruesdell at gmail dot com. Hopefully you can share with me what car or cars you will be taking to Pebble Beach this year.

    • Rich,

      Thank you for the mention on Facebook. This comment thread restarting has happened on My Car Quest before (sometimes a long time later) and that is why I leave comments open indefinitely because we never know when someone will discover a post for the first time and have something interesting to say or need some help.

  19. Charles Maranto says:

    Great thread. If I could figure out how to post piks, I would show my first new car, a 1300/124 in 1968. Later sold this car to buy. a 911 S for my college graduation. 44 years to the day, I was able to acquire another 1300/124 (a series 2 this time). You know how folks always say that they wish they had their first car back. Well……I can say I do. Thanks for a great thread, Don. Just received my Allemano Coupe, a restored DB, and a Series 2 1000 Bialbero. I think I am done for now. In process of moving to Cave Creek, AZ.

  20. Mac Morgan says:

    Interesting group of emails. What got my attention was the mention of Brud “Byron” LaMotte’s name at the beginning of the article. Brud and I grew up in Wilmington Delaware. I still live nearby, Brud’s down near Oxford MD. I see him from time to time and he’s still quite interested in cars.
    I became interested in Abarth when I saw my first one while hanging out at Lex duPont’s shop in Montchanin Delaware. His father, E. Paul duPont, owned the Indian motorcycle company and built the duPont car. I think the first Abarth was a double bubble zagato, probably a 600. By 1966 I was stationed in Germany and bought a 850 coupe. I shipped it home in 1969 and traded it on a 1300/124. FIat Abarth coupe at the local Mercedes-Benz dealer who also sold Fiats, MG, & Jaguar. I later went to,work there and started my careen in MB sales. The dealer got rid of everything but MB as of 1972 and took on a small Japanese line called Toyota!
    The 1300/124 was pretty rough, having been uses by one of the mechanics in autocross. Body was in good shape but it overheated a lot and the transaxle had a pretty bad shape. That got replaced with a stock 850 unit. The overheating was solved with new head gasket and I bought a set of Campy wheels from Al Cosentino of FAZA fame. He was the only one on the east coast who knew anything about Abarths. His shop,was a tiny little place in Brewster NY overflowing with parts, but he knew his stuff.
    I spent the next few years having fun with the Abarth at local autocrossers. It got lowered, got a roll bar, a Lotus seat, competition seat/shoulder belts and finally a 40mm Weber DCOE carburetor. Around 1975 l found a Fiat Otas at a local dealer in Philadelphia and bought it and the 1300/124 was sold to a friend. I’d love to know where it went. Unfortunately the OTAS was very rough and had the small 820 cc engine in it to get under the federal emission and safety standards. I later traded it on a nicer one with a 1000cc engine. It used a Sanz crank of 74mm stroke and was quite a runner. It smoked a lot the result of a broken piston ring. It was around the same time I located a OTR engine which I bought. Unfortunately it had a ton of wear and really needed complete rebuilding. A tragic house fire stopped the rebuild and what parts I salvaged paid me back for the original cost of the engine. While talking to Al Cosentino about the OTR, he spouted out, as was his nature, “that’s my engine… the sob never paid me for it!”
    After many years, I finally sold the OTAS to a chap in Maryland who’s completely restored it.
    As of now, the only thing I gave left of Abarth is my email address, a beautiful Abarth steering wheel and a couple of badges. Oh yea, and a Ford Focus RS in the garage.
    Mac Morgan
    Hockessin Delaware

Speak Your Mind

*

Find us on Google+