The wee abarth that almost did
1953 Abarth 1100 Ghia showcar comes back from the barn to almost take pebble beach
The highly regarded piece of elder material from another time known as the ‘Shroud of Turin’ is known to pretty much any and all Christians. One extremely rare 1953 Abarth 1100 Ghia on the other hand is known only by a few but still carries with it a shroud of mystery and its own religious scorpion-based following.
Initially shown at the 1953 Turin Auto Show in Italy this one-off, hand-crafted Abarth 1100 Ghia went missing for years following that show. Eventually it turned up next to a barn in the US. After carefully worded negotiations the car made its way to a more loving home in Western Canada.
The bullet nose recreated using only photos, by the expert hands of one Grant Kinzel
Photographed in its semi-unfinished state in 2012, these Kodaks reveal not only the amount of painstaking detail and bodywork needed to restore the classic Italian but highlights the number of items recreated from scratch.
Abarth's unfinished, yet polished interior in all its minimalist beauty
The Abarth's dashboard gauge panel for instance, failed to exist when the car was rescued. But the owner (let's call him Grant Kinzel) being the ever innovative person of extraordinary renovational talents, found an old photo of the interior showing the original dashboard. That low res, grainy photo was sent off to a highly specialized Italian outfit who recreated the gauges to perfection.
Fender restoration and fit required a special degree of attention and mad skills
Right rear quarter panel with bonus trunk detail
The nose-bullet missile hatch thing, was also painstakingly recreated by hand from historical pictures. Other handmade critical items included: inside door handles, tail lights, side trim, and interior trim. Under the hood resides a Fiat 1100-103 powerplant with Abarth mods; including a twin-carb arrangement and custom exhaust.
Right hand drive Abarth showing hand-made recreated dash, gauges, door knobs and window cranks
Abarth pillar line
According to comments on the ‘Alfa BB’ forum, “The Abarth 1100 Ghia has an Abarth-built chassis, uses some Fiat-based mechanical components. The car was labeled “103” at times because it came out in 1953 concurrently with the presentation of the Fiat 1100/103. The styling came from Mario Boano’s Ghia with heavy influences from Virgil Exner and Giovanni Savonuzzi, neither of whom seem to have been involved directly with the creation of either the Abarth or the Simca."
A most beautious arse
Signal marker integrated into wheel arches
The Abarth 1100 Ghia's restoration was completed in late 2014. In 2015 Grant transported the car to the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, where it won "Best in Class". The wee car that could, then went on to compete in Best of Show where it lost out to a team-built, 1924 Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8A Cabriolet.
The original car at the 1953 Turin Auto Show
More detailed view of the Abarth's dash and accompanying elements
A few published links from the 2015 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance showing the finished car in its pale grey paint scheme, can be seen here; driving.ca/fiat/auto-news/news/monterey-car-week-grant-kinzels-1953-fiat-abarth
Abarth's wire wheels partially hidden beneath bespoke wheel arches