The Abarth 1500 Biposto Coupé: With a Design Like That, Who Needs the Technical Part?

Aivaras Grigelevičius

Abarth is an exotic name that currently adorns several modern and fast Fiat models. Even though some might assume that Abarth is just another division in a huge corporation that doesn’t have deep traditions or even an understanding of how to build a sports car, Abarth is one of those very rare examples of the opposite.

Ever since the company was founded in 1949, Abarth specialised exclusively in the production of fast, dynamic cars with amazing handling, but one of their first projects – the Abarth 1500 Biposto Coupé – didn’t look anything like a pure-blooded sports car, and didn’t have the equipment that could help it grapple with the leaders in the sports car segment.

So the founder and then head of the company Carl Abarth tried, from the very first days, to get the attention of Italian automotive giant Fiat. He had a single and very clear goal – to build sports cars with the backing of a major manufacturer.

Wanting to demonstrate his abilities, the founder of Abarth introduced one of the most striking cars of that time in 1952 – the Abarth 1500 Biposto Coupé. It was a compact, aerodynamic coupé with a truly unique design.

Abarth 1500 Coupe Biposto
Abarth 1500 Coupe Biposto
©Bertone archive
Abarth 1500 Coupe Biposto
Abarth 1500 Coupe Biposto
©Bertone archive

With its unusual and futuristic forms, the Abarth 1500 Biposto Coupé was created through the joint efforts of Carlo Abarth and Franco Scaglione. Carlo Abarth was a talented racer and engineer, but at the time, nobody could compare to Franco Scaglione, who was working at Bertone. The person who, over the course of his colourful career, was responsible for designing the Lancia Aurelia B50 coupé, the Maserati 3500 GT coupé, and the Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale.

Abarth 1500 Coupe Biposto
Abarth 1500 Coupe Biposto
©Bertone archive
Abarth 1500 Coupe Biposto
Abarth 1500 Coupe Biposto
©Bertone archive

Franco had his own unique style, and was given complete freedom in designing the new Abarth. Carlo Abarth and the executives at Bertone told the designer to let his imagination go and show what he could do.

The spacecraft-like body contained the equipment of a rather civilized car. The front had double wishbone suspension, with the leaf springs that were so popular in the American industry in back. Meanwhile, first fiddle was played by the improved Fiat motor – the 1.5-litre, 75-bhp engine got the new Abarth model to a top speed of 180 km/h.

Abarth 1500 Coupe Biposto
Abarth 1500 Coupe Biposto
©Bertone archive
Abarth 1500 Coupe Biposto
Abarth 1500 Coupe Biposto
©Bertone archive

However, nobody cared about the relatively modest technical characteristics, since everyone was so taken by the car’s exterior design. However, it really caught the eye of the chief designer from Packard.

When the Americans came to the Turin Motor Show from the United States and saw this model, they made it their goal to take it back to the Packard office, where the Abarth 1500 Biposto would have just one mission – to act as design inspiration.

Abarth 1500 Coupe Biposto
Abarth 1500 Coupe Biposto
©Wouter Melissen, ultimatecarpage.com
Abarth 1500 Coupe Biposto
Abarth 1500 Coupe Biposto
©Wouter Melissen, ultimatecarpage.com

Abarth and Bertone’s teamwork was of benefit to both. Abarth managed to get the attention of the Fiat Group and became a full-fledged partner of the Italian industrial giant. Meanwhile, Bertone became a world-class automotive design studio, whose creations are labelled as the most beautiful cars in the world to this day.