It pays homage to the Abarth 1000 SP race car.
Fiat's performance Abarth division no longer sells any vehicles in the United States, but the Italian brand still has a selection of hot 500 models on sale in Europe. Abarth has a rich heritage of road cars and race cars, so it decided to celebrate the latter with a special one-off creation. Based on the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider, this one-of-one vehicle pays homage to the Abarth 1000 SP (Sport Prototipo) that won the Nurburgring 500 km 55 years ago in 1966.
The original Sport Prototype used an Abarth twin-cam engine based on the Fiat 600. It only produced 105 horsepower, but the minuscule 982-cc engine boasted off-the-charts specific output (horsepower per liter). Plus, the twin-cam unit could rev to 8,000 rpm, and it only had 480 kg (1,058 lbs) to lug around. Top speed was an impressive 136 mph.
Though the Alfa Romeo 4C is a tiny car by modern standards, it makes the original 1000 SP look like a toy car for children. Abarth didn't quote a weight estimate for this modern recreation, but it should ring in close to the 4C Spider's 2,487-lbs curb weight. This is more than twice the heft of the original, but the modern 1000 SP gets more than twice as much power. A 1.7-liter turbocharged four-cylinder produces 240 hp, the same amount as the 4C Spider.
"The Abarth 1000 SP echoes the lines and aesthetic characteristics of its forerunner," says Alfa Romeo. "The sinuous body, with the soft surfaces of the fenders highlighting the position of the wheels, takes up the pattern of the spider with a central engine. The cockpit glazing features shaped side deflectors, with their profile lowered towards the roll bar, the latter strictly 'in view' to highlight our being in the presence of a no-holds-barred spider."
We are impressed with how close Abarth was able to make the 4C look like the original 1000 SP. Alas, the modern version lacks the original's pop-up headlights and unique side mirrors.
With Fiat's entire US lineup reduced to only one model, the 500X, we'd love to see a mid-engined sports car like the 1000 SP arrive to bring some flare back to the Italian brand. Sadly, the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider has been discontinued, with a final Spider 33 Stradale Tributo edition capping off production. The 1000 SP will remain a one-off, and Alfa Romeo will bring it to vintage car events later this year.