This one is a real record setter, but it didn’t sell at auction.

In the 1950s Abarth was designing and building its own race cars, making itself pretty well known in the international motorsport community. To help promote the company name and brand, Carlo Abarth – the founder of Abarth & Company – looked to competing for international speed endurance records. In doing so, the company created a number of number of vehicles, but the most important cars, arguably, came from a collaboration between Abarth and Pininfarina. The first car developed from this collaboration was a 750 cc Monoposta that debuted in 1957. It went on to set a Class H record by maintaining an average speed of 102.743 mph for 72 hours.

Around the same time, Abarth had another breakthrough using its new Bialbero engine. With this engine in the Pininfarina-designed Monoposto, Abarth was able to smash its own three-hour record by more than 8.5 mph. With the thirst for record breaking taking hold, Abarth continued to improve its designs with Pininfarina and eventually built a final series of these streamlined record setters. And, the one you see here was Abarth’s primary 1,000 cc that goes by the name La Principessa.

Powered by a type 229 Bialbero engine, this baby had just 108 horsepower and could hit a top speed of 136 mph. It set a number of Class G records at Monza between September 28 and October 1, 1960, including an average speed of 126.545 mph over 12 hours, 123.525 mph over 24 hours, 118.224 mph over 48 hours, and 116.001 mph over 72 hours. The car has been kept in storage most of its life and has been owned by the same family for most of it existence. Recently going under the hammer at the Gooding & Company auction during Monterey Car Week 2016, we finally got a good look at this piece of Abarth history, so let’s dive on in and talk a little more about it.

Keep reading for our full review

Exterior

1960 Fiat-Abarth 1000 Monoposto Da Record "La Principessa" High Resolution Exterior AutoShow
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1960 Fiat-Abarth 1000 Monoposto Da Record "La Principessa" High Resolution Exterior AutoShow
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1960 Fiat-Abarth 1000 Monoposto Da Record "La Principessa" High Resolution Exterior AutoShow
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As a car that was designed specifically for breaking endurance speed records, it is devoid of any sharp design queues. Instead, the car has an incredibly smooth finish from front to rear with just a few elements that give it its overall shape. Up front, the body of the car comes to a smooth, rounded nose. As you can see from the images, it has suffered a little damage to the nose, but nothing serious. As we move further rearward, the only real defining marks are the Abarth scorpion logo and the Fiat lettering at the access panel between the wheel wells. Those wheel wells, by the way, carry such a pronounced shape to make room for the front wheels and to help give the car more aerodynamic balance as it zooms around the track.

The car has an incredibly smooth finish from front to rear with just a few elements that give it its overall shape.

Along the sides, you can see that the skirts that cover the top half of the wheels are removable for accessing the wheels, and the rear wheel arches mimic the front. On the sides, there are huge letters that designate the model as an Abarth. The cockpit is accessible from either side of the vehicle by opening up the bubble-like hatch. Just to the rear of the cockpit hatch, you’ll find the engine access hatch that sports various decals including the Pininfarina name.

At the rear, the body flattens out a bit and comes to a contoured edge that runs the full width of the vehicle. There are four cutouts in the rear tip for the exhaust outlets. Looking at the car from the rear, you can almost visualize how the air streams over the vehicle smoothly, while providing ample downforce to keep all fours planted on the pavement. While this may be an outrageous design, the car was quite successful in setting records and should make a very nice addition to somebody’s collection.

Interior

1960 Fiat-Abarth 1000 Monoposto Da Record "La Principessa" High Resolution Interior AutoShow
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1960 Fiat-Abarth 1000 Monoposto Da Record "La Principessa" High Resolution Interior AutoShow
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1960 Fiat-Abarth 1000 Monoposto Da Record "La Principessa" High Resolution Interior AutoShow
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Looking at the interior of this record setter, it’s clear that it was built for only one purpose, and comfort wasn’t it. The shots we have here, however, do give us a rare look into how the car is actually made, however. Notice how the entire inner area is filled with a roll-cage of sorts? This was done to help protect the driver and keep the body structurally sound – much like the roll cages we use today, just a little different. The seat itself looks somewhat uncomfortable considering this thing was used for endurance record setting. The steering wheel isn’t a wheel at all, but a two-spoke half-moon that was necessary to make room for the driver’s legs. Ahead of the wheel are various gauges and an adjustable tachometer. At the time these pictures were taken, the tach’s redline was set right at 9,000 rpm.

It was built for only one purpose, and comfort wasn’t it.

The other thing I would like to point out here is the permanent marker writing just the to left of the instrument cluster. This is the shift pattern, which is clearly backwards compared to what we’re used to here in the U.S. As you can see, first gear is up and to the right, second low and to the right, third up and to the left, and fourth down and to the left. Obviously, this isn’t a cockpit you would really want to sit in for long periods of time, but somehow its driver in the past managed to set quite a few records. Amazing!

Drivetrain

1960 Fiat-Abarth 1000 Monoposto Da Record "La Principessa" High Resolution Drivetrain AutoShow
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There isn’t a lot known about the drivetrain inside this specific model, but we do know that it is a type 229 Bialbero engine. It delivered 109 horsepower at 8,000 rpm and could push the car up to a top speed of around 136.7 mph. Shifting duties were handled by a four-speed manual transmission. The engine was mounted in the rear of the vehicle and power was delivered to the rear wheels.

Conclusion

1960 Fiat-Abarth 1000 Monoposto Da Record "La Principessa" High Resolution Exterior AutoShow
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As far as competition goes, this car’s primary competition was itself and the Abarth models that came before it. I would love to tell you how much the car is worth, but as it is a truly unique car it’s a little impossible to say. It did go up for auction through Gooding & Company during Monterey Car Week in 2016. The current owner Acquired it from Carrozzeria Pininfarina in 1970 and has held onto it ever since. It didn’t sell during the auction, and there was no estimate for what it might go for. For now, it looks like the current owner will keep his piece of Abarth history – at least until the next auction anyway. As for me, I have to say that – despite the cars odd appearance – I am strangely fond of it. I think it has to do with the smooth and no-nonsense body. Compared to the models we see every day, this fine example of history is brilliantly simple and is welcome in my garage anytime.

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