1960 Fiat-Abarth 750 GT ‘Double Bubble’ Zagato

Coachwork by Carrozzeria Zagato

From high-efficiency exhaust systems in the 1930s, Karl (later Carlo) Abarth expanded into other performance parts for Italian cars, both small and large. Post-WWII, he became the Italian distributor of Porsche, connecting Ferry Porsche with Piero Dusio of Cisitalia to realize the Type 360 Grand Prix racer project. Following Cisitalia’s bankruptcy, Abarth, as a consultant, received most of its assets as payment. He developed the last Cisitalia chassis as Abarths, then turned to building original Fiat-based cars.

Abarth found success with the launch of the Fiat 600 in 1955. Besides supplying tuning parts, he developed an enlarged 750cc version of the 633cc engine, selling “derivazione” kits for fitting into stock 600s. He also built complete cars, notably sleek, lightweight Zagato-bodied competition cars.

The Fiat 600 Derivazione 750 Abarth Zagato debuted at the 1955 Turin Auto Show and began racing in 1956. It quickly became a winner in European events, sweeping the first three places in the 750cc class at the 1957 Mille Miglia.

These cars also succeeded in the US. Later versions, nicknamed “Double Bubbles,” featured distinctive roof humps for enhanced headroom. Abarth’s affordable GT cars were ideal for private racers, and through a sponsorship deal with Fiat, he earned money for every “Fiat Abarth” win or second place.

Photos by Darin Schnabel courtesy of RM Sotheby’s