Carlo Abarth

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Carlo Alberto Abarth

Carlo Abarth (15 November 1908 – 24 October 1979), born Karl Albert Abarth, was an Italian automobile designer.

Abarth was born in Austria, but later was naturalized as an Italian citizen; and at this time his first name Karl Albert was changed to its Italian equivalent of Carlo Alberto.[1]


Before World War II[edit]

Abarth was born in Vienna, during the time of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. As a teenager, he worked for Castagna in Italy (1925–27), designing motorbike and bicycle chassis.[2] Back in Austria, he worked for Motor Thun and Joseph Opawsky (1927–34), and raced motorbikes,[3] winning his first race on a James Cycle in Salzburg on 29 July 1928.[4] He would be European champion five times, along with continuing his engineering. After a serious accident in Linz he abandoned motorbike racing, and designed a sidecar (1933) with which he managed to beat the Orient Express railway on the 1,300-kilometre (810 mi) stretch from Vienna to Ostend (1934).[5]

He moved permanently to Italy in 1934, where he met Ferdinand Porsche's son-in-law Anton Piëch, and married his secretary.[6] In 1939 Abarth was long hospitalized and had his racing career end, due to a racing accident in Ljubljana, Slovenia.[7] Other than visits to Austria and Italy, he remained in Slovenia until the war was over. During this time he worked at Ignaz Vok's factory. [8]

After World War II[edit]

Following this, he moved to Merano, from where his ancestors originated.[9] Abarth got to know both Tazio Nuvolari and the family-friend Ferry Porsche, and, together with engineer Rudolf Hruska and Piero Dusio, he established the Compagnia Industriale Sportiva Italia (CIS Italia, later becoming Cisitalia), having the Italian Porsche Konstruktionen agency (1943–48). The first automobile outcome of this cooperation was the rather unsuccessful Tipo 360 F1 prototype (see also Porsche 360). The CIS Italia project ended when Dusio moved to Argentina (1949).

Abarth then founded the Abarth & C. company with Cisitalia racing driver Guido Scagliarini in Bologna (31 March 1949),[10] using his astrological sign, the scorpion, as the company logo. The same year, Abarth & Co moved to Turin. Financed by Scagliarini's father Armando Scagliarini, the company made racing cars, and became a major supplier of high-performance exhaust pipes, that still are in production as Abarth. On 20 October 1965 Abarth personally set various speed records at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza.[11]

He sold the company on 31 July 1971 to Fiat, although he continued to manage it as a CEO for a period.[12] Later he moved back to Vienna, Austria, where he died in 1979.[13]

Personal life[edit]

Carlo Abarth was married three times. His first wife was the secretary of Volkswagen's head Anton Piëch in Vienna.

He married his second wife, Nadina Abarth-Žerjav, in 1949. They lived together in northern Italy until 1966, and divorced in 1979.

The same year, about six weeks before his death, Abarth married his third wife, Anneliese Abarth; she continues to head the Carlo Abarth Foundation[14] and wrote one of his biographies in 2010.


  1. ^ "Carlo Abarth". Archived from the original on 8 December 2009. Retrieved 26 January 2008.
  2. ^ (last accessed 6 March 2007)
  3. ^ Abarth Corse SpA from (last accessed 6 March 2007)
  4. ^ Carlo Abarth Archived 3 May 2007 at the Wayback Machine from (last accessed 6 March 2007)
  5. ^ Abarth Historie Archived 29 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine from (last accessed using Google cache, 6 March 2007)
  6. ^ Cisitalia Archived 26 February 2008 at the Wayback Machine from (last accessed 7 March 2007)
  7. ^ "Spet tisoči pri dirkah". Jutro. Ponedeljska izdaja. 13 November 1939. p. 7. Retrieved 29 April 2019.
  8. ^ "Abarth History". Abarthisti. Retrieved 27 July 2019.
  9. ^ Abarth history Archived 25 February 2008 at the Wayback Machine from (last accessed 6 March 2007)
  10. ^ Abarth ... attenti alle scorpione!!! from (last accessed 6 March 2007)
  11. ^ Behind the Abarth name from (last accessed 6 March 2007)
  12. ^ "The history of Abarth". Archived from the original on 29 May 2014. Retrieved 28 May 2014.
  13. ^ "UNIQUE EXHIBITION Tribute to Carlo ABARTH". Retrieved 22 October 2021.
  14. ^ "Carlo Abarth Foundation".


  • Greggio, Luciano (2002). Abarth, L'uomo, le macchine (in Italian). G. Nada. ISBN 88-7911-262-7.
  • Abarth, Anneliese (2010). Carlo Abarth: Mein Leben mit dem genialen Autokonstrukteur (in German). Herbig Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7766-2631-5.

External links[edit]