My Car Quest

August 21, 2019

A Question About The Team Roosevelt Fiat Abarth Racecars

by Mike –

I was reading through the April 1966 issue of Road & Track when I found this classified advertisement, below, on page 99. For sale was an Abarth 1000 Bialbero twin-cam, ex- Roosevelt Team car.

Road & Track classified ad

I do believe there were three Team Roosevelt Fiat Abarth Racecars and maybe one of them is not accounted for. I could be wrong, it has happened before, and my information is dated.

Below is part of an article published here in May 2014 about Fiat Abarth Team Roosevelt.

Text by John Denton (an email to Don Meluzio)

Our Father, J.W. Denton, started out in 1957 racing on the beach with Bill France.

Fiat Abarth Race Car

Fiat Abarth Race Car

He was friends with a man named Herschel Harkins out of Ashville N.C., Herschel was old money in town, he sold foreign cars. He was also the roommate of Franklin D. Roosevelt Jr. at College, they were best of friends.

That is how J.W. came into the Team Roosevelt cars. He bought the whole team in late 1960. He said only one of them was a twin-cam. And that was the one he kept.

J. W. Denton

J. W. Denton

The rusted out car is the actual Team Roosevelt car you see in the photos #81, this is all that is left, there is some original paint around the back window. He plans a slow rebuild.

Fiat Abarth

Read the whole story here and read more about Fiat Abarth Team Roosevelt here and here.

John Denton writes that his father told him that only one of the Team Roosevelt Fiat Abarth racecars was a twin-cam and J.W. Denton, the father, kept it. Yet, in April 1966 Mr. John Brackley in Meriden, Connecticut is advertising one for sale.

Could this be the same Fiat Abarth racecar bought by J.W. Denton or a case of mistaken identity?

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

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Summary
A Question About The Team Roosevelt Fiat Abarth Racecars
Article Name
A Question About The Team Roosevelt Fiat Abarth Racecars
Description
Are all of the Team Roosevelt Fiat Abarth Racecars accounted for?
Author

Comments

  1. For years when I searched for Abarth cars it seemed that every other car I saw was presented to me as a “former Team Roosevelt” car. The most recent one was in Seattle and needed a complete restoration, came with no engine or transmission and had a floor usable only to strain fluids.

    • Raffi,

      My good friend, Greg Paris (http://mycarquest.com/tag/greg-paris), was a very respected Abarth historian and collector. A few years ago he was hired by a potential buyer to investigate a car that the seller claimed to be a Team Roosevelt car. Greg told me a little about this problem.

      As you see by this post the Abarth identification problem goes back to at least the 1960s. In 1966 a buyer of this “Abarth 1000 Bialbero twin-cam, ex- Roosevelt Team car” would have a difficult time proving the history.

  2. Back in the day, around 1961, I had one of these that I used as an every-day driver. It was lots of fun, but after a few months it started to feel like driving around inside a bass drum, so I got rid of it. Mine was a standard 850 double-bubble, with original medium blue paint. I have often wondered where it is now, and hope it is restored and making someone happy.

  3. Don Meluzio says

    Guys, although I wrote the original article, I do not presume to be a Team Roosevelt Expert. I don’t know who I consider to be left alive that is. Most all of the original players are deceased. But, as Raffi mentioned above, Team Roosevelt Cars are sort of like Abraham Lincoln slept here. It seems as though everyone says their car is a Team Roosevelt Car, including me. Whenever my car is judged I always try to tell the Judges that I THINK my car is a Team Roosevelt Car.I save you the time of reading my logic, but I think the only way anyone could convince me that their car is a real Team Roosevelt Car would be an SCCA log book, or an entry from for a race with their serial number on it!
    To think that their was 3 or 5 Team cars is probably far from the truth. I actually have a Bill of Sale for what are believed to be 5 Team Cars to SCCA Racer and Writer/Publisher John Norwood of New York, on a Roosevelt Automobile Co Buyers Order dated April 5 1961. We also know that Hershel Harkins bought 3 cars, and I am sure their were many more.
    Most Factory Race Teams get a new car, AT LEAST every year, if not more often. Those cars are then sold to even more Racers whether Amateur of Professional, or even to Collectors, and so on and so on.
    When I first started racing in the Mid 80s, Chrysler Corp was very successful racing in the SCCA Escort Series and IMSA Firehawk. They would get all new cars at Least every year. Those Team cars would then be sold by Chrysler Racers in Amateur Racing Programs. I was fortunate enough to get one of the 86 team cars for myself to qualify for the SCCA National Championship in 1987. I know of at least 3 cars beside mine that were Factory Built and supported by Chrysler ex Endurance Cars in that race!. The idea just feeds the whole system with race cars, and in the meantime just happens to sell more cars for the mother company and just ads to the promotional benefit.
    I don’t know that we will ever know how many Team Roosevelt Cars there really were, but I will bet it is a heck of a lot more than we think. Mr Roosevelt was quite a promoter. I would love to hear if anyone has anything to add to my comments. If you contact me @ DMeluzio@aol.com, give me your serial number and I will compare it to my Bill of Sale for those 5 Cars that John Norwood bought, oh yea, the price for all 5 was $7000!!!

    • Alessandro Zerbone says

      Hello my name is Alessandro Zerbone and several years ago I bought a Fiat Abarth Record Monza that was in America. His chassis number is 543622. I would like to know his story if it were possible. What I know is that when I bought it I had a Ford Cortina engine and a fiberglass rear end. Can you give me some information about it? Many thanks
      Alexander

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