Despite becoming a renowned motorsport driver, Fabrizio Violati began his sports career on two wheels. Specifically on the back of a Vespa, whose official team hired him after learning that was able to jump up to twelve barrels in a single jump. A feat that he performed when he was only sixteen years old, serving as the gateway to the Italian Regularity Championship organized by the popular motorcycle brand. Thus, what could have been a fruitful career in the world of acrobatics led to the creation of the Maranello Rosso museum.
And, in addition to competing in all kinds of races until his death in 2010, Violati established one of the largest Ferrari collections in the world. A treasure that accompanied not a few copies of Abarth exposed in the basement of the building. Authentic reference gallery for any fan of the Italian motor, which was dismantled seven years ago now. All a shame. Since its previously musealized models ended up in multiple hands through such media auctions as the 250 GTO offered by Bonhams.
However, beyond the most iconic models, the Maranello Rosso museum collection hid other pieces also worthy of astonishment. One of them was his 1300 Abarth Simca 1963GT finished in bright blue. Curious Italian-French hybrid exhibited in the Maranello Rosso sample book from 1978 until its liquidation in 2014. Which is once again auctioned this time by RM Sotheby's as part of The Guikas Collection. Undoubtedly one of the most interesting encounters of this year for fans of motorsports.
SIMCA 1000. FROM THE STREET TO THE RACES
In telling the story of how the automobile became an object of mass consumption among the new middle classes, there are models that shine with their own light. One of them is the Simca 1000. Of which almost two million units were sold from 1961 to 1978 in countries as diverse as France, Spain or Chile. A commendable commercial success. Even more so if we take into account that it did not move in the range of the FIAT 600. But in that of the Dauphine and other four-door models. A very specific segment. Just above any urban utility but without being a saloon as such.
In this way, the conception of the Simca 1000 required a studied design that transcended the Poissy factory. For this reason, the French brand turned to FIAT, with which it enjoyed a good relationship after having produced several models of the same under license. In this sense, Simca received advice from visionary Dante Giacosa for engine development. A fact that was finished off by the body design signed by the legendary Mario Revelli and Mario Boano. A combination of referential names finished off with the collaboration of Porsche in the design of the four-speed transmission.
This is how the excellent quality of the Simca 1000 was underpinned. Whose engine with 944cc and 52CV was capable of moving with ease the 785 kilos given on the scale.. The perfect base for private trainers and even the brand itself to promote sports variants protagonists in all kinds of rallies, touring car races and one-make cups. A fact that we know quite well in Spain thanks to the Simca Challenge. Although in terms of technical finesse it reached its peak with the units signed by Abarth thanks to the complacency of the director of Simca Henri Pigozzi.
RAISING GT A SMALL UTILITY
Given the popular and lightweight character of the Simca 1000 this was a good model for drivers who wanted something other than the small FIAT 600 or larger Renault R8. Feature confirmed by its easily drivable engine and with a taste for happily climbing laps, which revealed the possibilities of the model in competition. For this reason, Henri Pigozzi quickly thought of Carlo Abarth in order to prepare the model in the manner of the versions made by the Italian on FIAT bases. Idea for which he contacted him not for one but for two versions. The first was the Simca 1150 Abarth.
A model thinking to be manufactured in series. Of which there were up to four variants, always with an engine based on that of the Simca 1000 although increasing its displacement to 1137cc. Quite rabid especially in the Corsa variant with 85CV and shorter shock absorbers although mounted with the same bodywork despite some details such as a differentiated grill. A fact that easily associates this Abarth work with the popular Simca model, which was not the case with the much more specific 1300GT version.
A car born specifically for racing. Which achieved homologation in the GT class by the FIA the same year of its launch: 1962. At which point he began to excel in various competitions, achieving up to 90 of the 535 victories achieved by Abarth models in 1963. A feat with circuits such as Imola as a witness. A place where the Abarth Simca 1300GT could develop the full potential of its 1300cc double overhead camshaft engine created specifically by Abarth for it.
A wit mounted on a chassis based on elements of the Simca 1000. But in the hands of the engineer Mario Colucci it was perfected and stylized with a bodywork made by Odoardo Beccari. Key names in the golden age of Abarth, within which this Simca model represents a delightful creation beyond its recurring works with mechanics and base from FIAT.
Photographs: RM Sotheby's / Abarth
P.D. In the case of the preparations that Abarth made on the basis of other brands its name was usually put at the end. Just the case with the Simca 1150 Abarth. Thus indicating that it is an evolution made by the Italian house from a certain series model. However, in the case of the Abarth Simca 1300GT this was done just the other way around. A fact that comes from the scant intervention of Simca in the process, being in fact a car for which Abarth is more responsible than the French manufacturer.