Abarth returns to rallying with a 300-horsepower 124 Coupe

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As soon as the

based Fiat 124 Spider was unveiled in 2015, rumors that the Italians are also planning to develop a rally-spec model surfaced the Interwebz. Although Fiat declined to confirm that such a model is in the works, the race-prepped car made a surprise debut at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show, alongside the beefed-up 124 Abarth. It’s called the Abarth 124 Rally, and much like the standard 124 Spider, it’s a modern iteration of the Fiat’s original roadster.

Only a prototype for now, the 124 Rally will be finalized in time for the 2017 season. Fiat confirmed that the coupe will be homologated for the FIA R-GT, a category created specifically for GT cars. In 2015, the R-GT Cup was contested by only four drivers, all using


generation Porsche 911 GT3s. There’s no word if other makers plan to join the sport, but the 124 Rally should make things significantly more interesting.

A final version will be unveiled by the end of the year with official testing to commence in the coming months. Until that happens, let’s have a closer look at the prototype that revives the 124 Rally after exactly four decades since its last official race.

Continue reading to find out more about the 2016 Abarth 124 Rally.

  • 2016 Abarth 124 Rally
  • Year:
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
  • Transmission:
    six-speed sequential
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    300 @ 6500
  • Displacement:
    1.8 L
  • Top Speed:
    155 mph (Est.)
  • car segment:
  • body style:


2016 Abarth 124 Rally High Resolution Exterior
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2016 Abarth 124 Rally High Resolution Exterior
- image 668399
2016 Abarth 124 Rally High Resolution Exterior
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Like all rally cars based on their road-going counterparts, the 124 Rally retains the design language of the 124 Abarth, but received a number of rally-spec features. Arguably the most important change is the fixed composite hard-top that replaced the road-going car’s canvas roof. The new hard-top turns the Abarth 124 into a permanent coupe and helps lean the weight distribution slightly toward the rear axle.

Classic rally enthusiasts will probably notice that the hard-top is about the same shape as the original car, giving the 124 a sleek appearance

Classic rally enthusiasts will probably notice that the hard-top is about the same shape as the original car, giving the 124 a sleek appearance. It also features a roof scoop and rally-spec side windows with sliding center sections.

While most body panels are shared with the standard model, the 124 Rally did receive a new mesh for the upper and lower grille, the latter with "Abarth" lettering, and revised side air intakes with vertical foglamps. It also received four additional lights, two in the main grille and two on the nose, as well as quick-release pins for the engine hood. Changes are less significant around back, where the only noticeable features are the single, larger exhaust pipe and the quick-release pins on the trunk lid.

Finally, the car is painted in red and yellow and wears the logos of all the companies Abarth has collaborated with for this project, including OZ and Michelin, which supplied the lightweight wheels and competition tires, respectively. For those of you not familiar with Abarth’s racing heritage, the livery is identical to one of the paint schemes used on the original Abarth 124 rally car. Sweet!


Abarth has yet to release photos of the car’s interior, but did say that the cockpit was engineered for maximum ergonomics and safety. Like any rally car, it also features a number of FIA-spec components, including a safety roll cage, Sabelt bucket seats, and safety harnesses. Expect the dashboard to mimic that of the road car as per WRC regulations, but look for a different control arrangement and a bespoke instrument cluster.


2016 Abarth 124 Rally High Resolution Exterior
- image 668396
The 1.4-liter engine has been replaced with a turbocharged, 1.8-liter "Bialbero" unit with direct injection

This is where the 124 Rally is completely different compared to the road-going car, as the 1.4-liter engine has been replaced with a turbocharged, 1.8-liter "Bialbero" unit with direct injection. The four-pot delivers up to 300 horsepower at 6,500 rpm with "scorching" acceleration and a "full, riveting sound." Shifting duties were assigned to a six-speed sequential gearbox with paddle shifters and a mechanical limited-slip differential.

The engine is mounted behind the front axle for optimized overall balance.

Underpinnings have been redesigned with help from various technical partners. The coupe rides on a new suspension system with double wishbone design at the front and multi-link with metal joints at the rear. The adjustable dampers guarantee superior grip on any terrain. The new suspension scheme has been developed with LM Gianetti, while the four-way dampers, a first for a rally car, were provided by EXT SHOX. The high-performance air-intake system comes from BMC.


2016 Abarth 124 Rally High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 668173

Judging by the fact that it has unveiled three different versions of the same car in less than six months, Fiat has big plans for the new 124 Spider. The 124 Rally is great news if you’re a rally enthusiast, as it marks Abarth’s return to racing as a manufacturer after a very long time. The fact that it selected the 124 Spider, which is a cool neo-retro rendition of the original Sport Spider, for its comeback makes things that much more exciting. Not to mention that Abarth will definitely make the FIA R-GT Cup a lot more interesting.

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Ciprian Florea
Ciprian Florea
Senior Editor and Supercar Expert -
Ciprian's passion for everything with four wheels (and more) started back when he was just a little boy, and the Lamborghini Countach was still the coolest car poster you could hang on your wall. Ciprian's career as a journalist began long before earning a Bachelor's degree, but it was only after graduating that his love for cars became a profession.  Read full bio
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2016 Abarth 124 Rally High Resolution Exterior
- image 668174

Along with the Abarth 124 spider, the first prototype of the 124 rally also has a surprise début. For the first time, the road car and the racing car have been developed and unveiled together.

The new Abarth 124 rally is a combination of pure technology and performance born from the experience of the Abarth Racing Team to bring back the Scorpion to the most glorious and demanding rally tracks, from the sticky sunburnt tarmac to the more slippery ice surfaces.

Forty years after its last official race, the 1976 Monte Carlo Rally, the Abarth 124 Rally is back with the same mission: to test road cars’ technical solutions under extreme conditions and to guarantee all Abarth customers excellent performance and maximum reliability

It is dedicated to all those who share the brand’s sense of challenge and racing world values.

Under the bonnet, it fits the 1800 cm3 "bialbero" turbocharged direct injection engine. Thanks to the different selectable mappings, it provides power up to 300 HP at 6500 rpm and optimum torque curve, a key element to allow the driver steering and acceleration balance while oversteering. Performance is breath-taking; acceleration is scorching and marked with full, riveting sound. The project was developed to ensure reliability and performance, even in the extreme conditions typical of rallies: ice, dirt, dust, water, heat.

Even the transmission was designed to enhance performance: the engine is coupled to a quick 6-speed sequential gearbox with shift paddles and traction is assured by the mechanical limited slip differential.

Racing, for Abarth, is not only adrenaline, but also testing grounds to experiment with solutions that guarantee performance and excitement. To enhance the 124 rally’s competitiveness, the Abarth Racing Team’s engineers have worked with precise objectives: first of all, weight reduction and overall balance. For this reason, the engine is mounted behind the front axle; for the cockpit and the engine compartment, light, resistant materials were used, while the soft top was replaced by a fixed composite hard top. With these features, weight distribution leans slightly towards the rear axle, ensuring maximum traction even in low grip conditions. The centre of gravity was further lowered as compared to the road car to the advantage of road grip and straightforward performance.

2016 Abarth 124 Rally High Resolution Exterior
- image 668175

The new Abarth 124 spider was born light and agile, and the rally edition was further refined to star in competitions. Homologation in the FIA R-GT category has required structural reinforcements to guarantee even greater stress resistance and the highest safety standards for the crew, and the body now has a safety roll cage. The whole design has been engineered for maximum efficiency and ergonomics, to ensure driver and co-driver not only superior performance, but also attention to every minute detail, such as the arrangement of interior controls and available space in the cockpit.

Rally cars undergo extreme stress; this is why the superb mechanical layout of the standard production car has been further developed: the high front-end double wishbone suspension and multi-link rear suspension have specific kinematic features with metal joints for maximum steering precision, ample control on corners, greater excursion for handling different road surfaces and adjustable dampers settings guarantee always superior grip in every situation.

In conclusion the project code, SE139, has a great deal of history that goes back directly to Karl Abarth. The SE stands for "Sports" and "Esperimental", a direct link to the Abarth values of craftsmanship and Technical Upgrade. While the 139 progressive number exemplifies that in 67 years of history, Abarth has managed to develop an average of two racing projects per year. A great accomplishment that only a few other car manufactures can be proud of.

A great team to bring back Abarth on the rally stage

Team Abarth has worked very hard to select best in class technical partners and sponsors.
Among these, Petronas Selenia that has always been at the forefront in developing technologically advanced and high performance lubricants and it has contributed in the engine development. While Adler Pelzer Group was greatly involved in making crafting composite components for the car and Michelin is the technical partner for tires development.
The Abarth 124 rally project is also a great showcase for a number of Italian companies which have been involved in racing for many years. As is the case for Sabelt, one of the most well-known brand in motorsport, which contributes with its bucket-seats, seatbelts and other safety equipment, and also for Kappa, the leading sportswear brand worn by the entire "Abarth Squadra Corse". For what concerns the mechanics of the car, LM Gianetti, a company born some 40 years ago and witnessed the development of the first Abarth 124 Rally, has closely worked with Abarth’s Technical Team to reengineer completely the bodywork and the suspensions scheme. Whilst, EXT SHOX has contributed with its specific know-how in the development of 4-way adjustable dampers used for the first time in a Rally car.

BMC has supported the team in developing the air-intake system of the car, which it is crucial to allow constant and reliable engine performance. The lightweight, but at the same time robust racing wheels, have been developed and crafted by OZ, the legend in motorsport.

2016 Abarth 124 Rally High Resolution Exterior
- image 668176

In conclusion, as for the road-going model, Alcantara® has completely revamped the interior of the car starting from the dashboard to the seats trimming, with 100% "Made in Italy" technology contributing to saving weight and reduce sun reflections towards the interior of the car, allowing no interferences for the driver enhancing the driver grip on the steering wheel.

The team has worked with great passion to revamp a rally icon as the Abarth 124 rally, a rear wheel drive transmission is synonym of great fun for the drivers, but also for the public. Surely, people will queue up to see pass by the new 124 Abarth rally and see it powerslide, which have become very rare today.
The new 124 rally developed with the best of technology available today, contributes to bring back sweet memories from the past of rallying in the 70’s were competitions were more engaging and gathering massive crowds.
After the Geneva MotorShow unveiling, Abarth opens the pre-booking phase to prepare your début in the 2017 rally season.

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