Author Topic: Abarth International  (Read 10112 times)

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Offline guy moerenhout

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Abarth International
« on: April 20, 2008, 10:47:59 pm »
Recollections of Abarth International - by Hoop

  It was the late sixties when my pal George and his gal Linda went to
the auto show at the New York Coliseum. At that time my friends and
I were driving Mini Coopers, Renualts and a whole variety of Fiats.
We could generally pick them up for very little money. I preferred
the Fiat 600 sedan and had one after another in those days.
  Getting back to the story, George spotted the just imported 1968
Siata Spring and Linda loved it. The Spring looked something like an
early fifties MG, but even cuter. It had Borrani wire wheels, a fold down
windshield and a price tag of $1,995. The Siata embodied the spirit of
freedom that the sixties were known for, and was the right price. There
were two on display at the show. A red model with black fenders and
George's favorite which was yellow with a black interior. Since the
Siata Spring was based on a Fiat 850 sedan undercarriage it was also
familiar to him mechanically. The next step was to find out more.
  A few days later he gave me a call and we were on our way to the
importer, Abarth International in Newark, New Jersey. We rounded the
corner on Poineer Street and saw number 83 was a small warehouse
space with a lone garage door. We entered to find it was a very modest
operation. The owners were Mr. and Mrs. Herman and the manager was
a fellow named Joe Wells, whom I happened to know. Joe had owned a
slot car race place in my town a few years earlier and I was a regular.
Their secretary and chauffeur rounded out the Abarth Sales Corp. team.
  We looked over all the yellow, red, white and green Siatas. George still
preferred the yellow model. They struck a deal and George not only had
his car, but they also hired him as parts manager. How's that for really
schmoozing into a job. Eventually his brother Stephen and our neighbor
Charlie would also work there as prep men. The final piece in the puzzle
was the mechanic they needed. By chance, Giovanni Ciavarro stopped in
one day because he had seen the Abarth sign. Johnny, as we called him,
was a master mechanic specializing in Italian cars. He had just arrived in
the U.S. from Italy and was looking for a job. They hired him on the spot.
  Abarth International imported many interesting cars other than the
Siata Spring. The OTAS Tigre (which Vickie Herman named) was another
specialty sportscar based on the Fiat 850 chasis that was brought into
this country in small numbers. They would also import singular cars on
order. One customer had an Abarth 695 SS (based on the Fiat 500 body)
brought over from Italy. George eventually bought this car too. And the
surprising thing is, he used this sophisticated racing car as his daily
transportation. Let's just say he could get to work very fast.
  Since this was a small enterprise, it was a very casual place. Friends and
interested parties would drop by to see what the latest cars were. One time
Senor Ambrosini (designer of the Spring) stopped in. He said he designed
it for the young people and then got upset when he saw George's Siata
sporting oversized Abarth wheels and tires. The practice of fitting the
Springs with non original design parts to pass inspection was ongoing.
An example was using larger American headlights to replace the originals.
  Overall the Abarth International experience was a great one. The demise
of the company came when Siatas were discontinued and Mr. Herman died.
His wife carried on for a time, but with new government restrictions and a
problem of dealing with Abarth in Italy, the end came too soon.

  Photos by George Bonanno

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Offline Pantdino

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Re: Abarth International
« Reply #1 on: April 21, 2008, 06:50:58 am »
Thanks, Guy!

It's good to know you're feeling well enough to be posting again!

Jim Oddie

Offline guy moerenhout

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Re: Abarth International
« Reply #2 on: April 21, 2008, 10:21:44 am »
thanks Jim
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Offline interimages

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Re: Abarth International SIATA
« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2008, 03:26:15 pm »
Who is the person who posted this message :  Hoop ????   Any way to contact him ????