The Abarth Scorpione is different from the Abarth cars that we know today, with the first clue to this being right in the name. Modern Abarths aren’t branded exclusively as Abarths, but rather as a trim/sub-brand for Fiat. The Scorpione is indeed the last car developed entirely by Abarth, although there are still plenty of Fiat parts to be found in it. The car is a reworked tuner version of the Lombardi Grand Prix, itself a heavily reworked version of the Fiat 850. Making the Scorpione doubly tuned, if that’s a thing. This one was sold to be a race car, but was modified once again by its second owner, who made some motorsport-specific changes to the car.

The car was first developed as a Lombardi for 1968, with the Abarth model following shortly thereafter. The Lombardi would last until 1972, but when Fiat bought out all of Abarth in 1971, one of the first things it did was kill off the Scorpione. So with as rare as the Grand Prix is, the Scorpione is even rarer. But the one you see here, from 1969, is a unique version of the car, and quite possibly the most powerful example in existence.

Continue reading to learn more about the 1969 Abarth Scorpione Prototipo.

  • 1969 Abarth Scorpione Prototipo
  • Year:
    1969
  • Make:
  • Engine:
    inline-4
  • Transmission:
    four-speed manual
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    125
  • Displacement:
    1280 cc
  • Top Speed:
    110 mph
  • Price:
    45000
  • car segment:
  • body style:

Exterior

1969 Abarth Scorpione Prototipo Exterior
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1969 Abarth Scorpione Prototipo Exterior
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1969 Abarth Scorpione Prototipo Exterior
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The styling of the Scorpione is largely unchanged from the Grand Prix, but is unrecognizable as being based on the Fiat 850. The 850 was a (very) small economy car with a very utilitarian design. Lombardi saw its potential as a sports car platform because of its rear engine layout. It is still a very small car though, and one that weighs just 1,390 pounds. This specific Scorpione has been modified, particularly the nose, which was changed completely by the second owner. The original wasn’t quite as steeply sloped and featured pop-up headlights. The NACA ducts in the rear of the bodywork are also custom. It has to be said that a lot of people would probably consider this less attractive than the original, but then it wasn’t designed to be attractive, it was designed to go fast.

Interior

1969 Abarth Scorpione Prototipo Interior
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1969 Abarth Scorpione Prototipo Interior
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1969 Abarth Scorpione Prototipo Interior
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Calling the inside of any race car an interior is being generous, and this one isn’t really any different. Still, a surprising amount of the original equipment has survived the conversion. The seats, for example, haven’t been replaced by buckets, and the big center-mounted gauge cluster has stayed. The carpet and radio are gone, but the fact that not much else is tells you a lot about how much was originally included.

Drivetrain

1969 Abarth Scorpione Prototipo Drivetrain
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In its various forms, the Grand Prix was offered with quite a few different engines. The original Lombardi just used the engine out of the Fiat 850 that it was based on. This was an 813cc, four-cylinder engine that produced 43 horsepower. This was a very light car, but the horsepower figure was still entirely too low, and this was part of the motivation for Abarth to make some changes. So the first Abarth upgraded to a 903cc engine that made 52 horsepower.

Upgrades to this came out quickly, and soon there was an “Abarth 1300 Scorpione”, with a 1280cc engine out of a Fiat 124 that made 75 horsepower. This was upgraded for the Scorpione SS, of which only four were built, to 100 horsepower. The car here was originally fitted with the 903cc engine, but was retrofitted with one of the 124 engines. This was further tweaked to eventually produce 125 horsepower. Being such a light car, it performed admirably for its class on the track.

Drivetrain Specifications

Type DOHC inline four-cylinder engine
Displacement 1,280 cc
Output 125 bhp
Transmission four-speed manual

Prices

1969 Abarth Scorpione Prototipo Exterior
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This car is going up for auction soon, and RM Auctions have estimated that it will go for £45,000 - £55,000 ($68,000 - $83,000). That might seem low for a rare Italian sports car, but low power figures tend not to attract high dollar figures, and for all of its rarity, it isn’t all that exotic, with nearly everything but the body just coming from the Fiat parts bin. Still, it’s a 1960s race car, and it’s very common for these kinds of pre-auction appraisals to be low-ball figures. But even if it does end up going higher, it’s a hell of a deal for a 1960s race car.

Competition

Mini Cooper

1959 - 2006 The History of Mini
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If you want a car with a small engine that was successful in motorsports during the 1960s, this is a much more obvious choice. Like the Scorpione, the car has its roots in providing economical transportation, but then someone saw the racing potential of an incredibly light and inexpensive car. The Mini is far from rare as well, so you should be able to get one for relatively cheap.

You can read more about the original Mini here.

Alfa Romeo Spider

1969 Abarth Scorpione Prototipo Exterior
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If what you’re looking for an Italian sports car that won’t require you to sell your children to able to afford it, this is the one. And since it was actually sold in North America, this should be one of the easier ones to find. This one is less about white-knuckled throttle mashing and more about regular spirited driving, but the Spider handles brilliantly, and has a lovely Alfa engine to boot.

Conclusion

1969 Abarth Scorpione Prototipo Exterior
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Possibly more than any other production vehicle, the Scorpione really embodied what an Abarth was supposed to be. And it seems that someone at Abarth thought so as well, since it was named after the company’s logo. It’s a car that made the absolute most of what Fiat’s parts could do, putting even Fiat sport models that were made of many of the same parts to shame. It was good enough that the name was reused a few times, once for a completely insane concept in 1969 and more recently for a special edition of the Punto Abarth, the 2012 Fiat Punto Abarth Scorpione. The 2014 Alfa Romeo 4C currently sort of fills the same roll as this car, but it would really be great if Fiat would actually give Abarth a little more free reign, it might result in some awesome cars.

  • Leave it
    • Aftermarket nose looks a bit off
    • Not street legal anymore
    • Underneath it all, there’s still a lot of Fiat 850 in this car

Source: RM Sothebys

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