This is a reworked car based on a re-engineered Fiat. The Abarth Scorpione SS. Underneath it’s still a FIAT 850 actually but Carrozzeria Francis Lombardi gave it another body and gave it a different name. The Lombardi Grand Prix.
At first it really just was FIAT mechanics from an 850. So just a 843cc engine putting out a measly 37hp (later 47hp when FIAT introduced the 850 Special). But lower drag and fewer weight resulted in a “claimed” higher top speed of 160km/h. It was introduced at the 1968 Geneva Salon international de l’auto but soon the quest for more power was started.
So Lombardi teamed up with Franco Giannini, son of the well-known Italian tuner Domenico Giannini. They founded a new company, Officina Trasformazioni Automobili Sportive. Or OTAS. And not only did they get a bigger 56hp twin-cam “Tigre” engine and use that: for the American market they added a smaller engine as well (!!!).
Because cars with a capacity of less than 50 cubic inch need not carry emissions controls equipment. So the 850 engine was down-sleeved to 817cc (49.9 cubic inch) and the car was renamed OTAS 820. But importer John Rich from
Armenia Glendale (CA) had all kinds of tune-up kits so this car has the honor to be the first car ever to be curtailed by the EPA but that probably was the Tigre-engined one (982cc).
So who was next? That even more famous Italian tuning company from Bologna: Abarth. And not did they just mount a reworked FIAT 850 engine, they mounted one from FIAT’s 124 as well. Slightly increased to 1280cc it could get the 75hp Abarth Scorpione to a proven 175km/h.
Still that wasn’t enough. The Scorpione SS (for Super Sport) got another 25hp added and that one should have been quite a handful with a weight distribution of 39% up front and 61% in the back! Carlo “Francis” Lombardi’s background as a pilot and aeronautical engineering luckily had resulted in a car with minimal lift up front.
One thing Abarth immediately had done for all Scorpiones was relocating the cooler from the back to the front. Giannini’s and Lombardi’s Grand Prix had proven to run hot quite fast, the Abarths never had this issue.
It was one of Abarth’s final production cars. FIAT took over Abarth in 1971 and this meant Abarth was all about making FIATs faster. Not reengineering other out-house designs.
The model itself is a Metro.mo.it, “magazine models” cast. Just like the previous “FIAT” derived Abarth I’ve shown. It’s 1/43 scale and not that good actually. The mono-wiper seems to be floating in air and the paint has several spots that is simply bad. But, 6 euros for such an obscure little Italian gem: Would get it again. Totally. Even want more as this is quite the series!
I just could not come up with the reason for this one being orange. Orange is the color that’s been acknowledged as being “horrible” in Italian culture, the rest of this series seems to be white but mainly red. Of course.
But that’s it for today, grazie mille per l’attenzione. If you want to catch up on a great obscure story try to read more about Greek-Cypriot casino owner Frixos Demetriou (last paragraph here), there’s a link to this little car for him as well. Ciaou Tutti!
P.S. 2nd try, not sure if a metallic kind of paint was the right choice for this one but that’s all I had in my shed...