1967 Fiat-Abarth 1000 OTR
Engine:982cc OHV inline 4
Transmission:4 Speed Manual
An innovative concern with a sporting pedigree second to none, Abarth branched out from producing induction and exhaust systems into selling performance kits for -- mainly FIAT -- production cars, later building a succession of aerodynamically stylish sports prototypes and limited-series production cars.
One such model is the very rare Fiat-Abarth 1000 OTR (for Omologato Turismo Radiale), a very much modified and Abarth-tuned version of Fiat's more humble 850 Coupe, designed for FIA Group 3 competition. The 1000 OTR was actually considered to be so much better than its contemporary production car racing competitors that some racing organizations, notably the SCCA, banned it from competition – accounting for part of the reason so few of these roadgoing cars were ever constructed. The 1000 OTR offered nearly 100 horsepower from its sub-one-liter "Radiale" engine, a formidable achievement, alas it is thought that only some three-dozen or so were ever produced.
This rarely seen FIAT-Abarth homologation special has a well-known ownership history since new. The car was exported to the US from new, where the Alfa Romeo and FIAT agent in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Henry Mearig, Inc. took delivery. The new uniquely-shaped sports car was surely a rare sight on American soil, and actually didn't even get out of the dealership, as it was purchased by John Mitchell, an employee of Henry Mearig, Inc. Soon after acquiring his new 1000 OTR, Mr. Mitchell started to campaign it during night and weekend outings at local race tracks and hill climb events. Well known to the Pennsylvania Hillclimb Association, Mr. Mitchell and the famous FIAT-Abarth 1000 OTR would rack up many points and victories over the next three years.
By 1970, Mr. Mitchell retired the car after an accident on the way home form a race meeting one evening, and it would be set aside in storage. In 1977 it was purchased by a Mr. Brian Hershock of Holtwood, Pennsylvania, who in 1980 sold the car back to Mr. Henry Mearig of the Lancaster, Pennsylvania-based Alfa Romeo and FIAT agency who had received the new 1000 OTR some thirteen years earlier. The car remained with Mr. Mearig for about a decade, before being purchased by Charles and Janice Callis of Manheim, Pennsylvania. Mr. Callis, also an employee at Henry Mearig, Inc, soon embarked on a comprehensive restoration of the old sports car, but sold the unfinished car in November 1992 to Jim Saunders of Sydney, Australia. The 1000 OTR remained in Mr. Saunders ownership until 2005, when fellow Australian enthusiast Graeme Towers purchased the car. Soon after, Mr. Towers sat out to complete the restoration of the car, so it could go back on the road. The extensive restoration was finished in September of 2006, and the result is the breathtaking car offered here today.
Now back in the US, this sporting FIAT-Abarth 1000 OTR still presents extremely well. The car has been used sparingly since the comprehensive restoration, and is almost undoubtedly one of the best-restored examples of the model available anywhere. This fine piece of rare and significant etceterini makes a striking statement in Rosso Corsa over blue racing-style seats and carpets, much like the big-brother Ferraris of the era. This delightful little car is not only cute, it is one that was a real performer in period, so much so that it gained a reputation of having an unfair advantage over the competition on the race track. A very rare and significant model stemming from the legendary partnership of FIAT and Abarth, this 1000 OTR is sure to be the highlight of any Italian car gathering.
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