As envisaged by the plans to revive the brand, the Abarth & C. S.p.A. company has set up new premises in the Mirafiori complex in Turin, bringing together the manufacturing, design and management functions for the whole company, as well as the staff of the Racing Team who were formerly housed in the historical plant in the nearby town of Chivasso.
And it took just eight months to build the new structure and to transfer the racing team, living up to the brand’s reputation for ‘speed’. This is all the more remarkable if one remembers that the premises cover an area of more than 23,000 square metres, conceived specifically to house all the brand’s activities, and employ more than 100 people.
Located in the historical Mirafiori Engineering plant – now known as Officine 83 and also the home of the Fiat Group Automobiles Style Centre since 2007 – the new Abarth structure offers important advantages for both the expansion of the brand’s specific activities and for relations with the Fiat Group’s other industrial activities: the location will simplify interaction with the Style Centre, the Experimental construction centre, and the Engineering and Design departments.
The project embodies the same guidelines that accompany the brand’s re-invention: effectiveness, speed, essentiality and functionality.
A large industrial building has been refurnished, but maintains its original industrial configuration, and now houses the workshops where the models are manufactured and developed, divided into different departments: racing cars, prototype development, development of cars derived from standard production and the Racing Department.
The technical and design offices are located next to the workshops, while the Marketing and the Sales & Network Development functions are housed on the first floor, with the other business support functions (Finance, Purchasing, etc.).
The entrance introduces the brand’s distinctive elements immediately: an Italian flag on the white side walls to underline the brand’s nationality, and a 1 metre high 3D rendering of the classic Abarth shield, made of steel.
The Abarth name appears over the main door, also in steel, 208 cm long and 25 cm high; a texture mounted on adhesive on the sliding glass door represents the car’s main mechanical components, a distinctive element of all Abarth dealers.
Beyond the entrance are the words ‘Officine Mirafiori’ (in relief) under another classic Abarth shield, which underlines the parent company’s determination to maintain the brand’s historical values and seamless continuity with the past. On the right, is the characteristic ‘Abarth wall of fame’: 40 photographs from the past that celebrate Abarth’s victories, successes and most important models, like the one in Carlo Abarth’s office 60 years ago.
The generous space to the left of the entrance will house a 560 square metre showroom, which will illustrate the brand’s past and future through a display of models and distinctive elements from Abarth’s history. With the strong imprint of the corporate colours (red and white with grey details), the exhibition space harks back to the past, underlining that the link with tradition is not only ideal but real and visible.
Another element that conveys the personality of the whole centre is the new workshop, which is equipped with a battery of car lifts for carrying out tuning operations on the cars. A special area has also been earmarked as a future assembly line for cars in small production runs. The route through the workshops is marked by a red Abarth strip (3.5 metres tall) on all the walls, to demonstrate that the Abarth spirit involves the whole company.
After the workshops is the area set aside for the various warehouses, where the walls are painted dark grey. Nothing random about this: grey was the colour that Carlo Abarth used on his cars (to produce it, he used tins of paint destined to the aircraft at the airfield adjacent to the original headquarters in Corso Marche).
An exclusive distribution network
The Abarth & C. S.p.A. structure is agile and fast-moving, in the true spirit of the brand, and it has created its own exclusive distribution network, on four levels: flagship branches, dealerships, specialist tuners and service workshops.
The flagship branches are known as the ‘Officine Abarth’, and there will be four in the world (in Italy, Germany, Great Britain and Japan), representing the brand in the key markets. The Italian headquarters obviously had to be in the historical premises in Corso Marche in Turin, to demonstrate that the link with tradition is not only hypothetical but tangible and concrete.
The second level of the Abarth network is made up of the dealerships, which will be limited in number, and will guarantee a specialist, targeted relationship with all customers. The third level comprises the independent Tuners who will be recognised by the ‘Abarth Assetto corse’ sign, and they will be the real experts of the tuning possibilities and sole installers of the kits.
This guarantees respect for all the relevant environmental and safety standards and will keep the make’s hands-on character alive. And finally, the last distribution level comprises the Service workshops which maintain high standards of specialisation, technology and service, guaranteeing the necessary assistance to all Abarth customers.
The marketing network is organised to embody three of the make’s important values: sportiness, relations with the customer and safety, generating a unique ‘shopping experience’ for the customer at every Abarth showroom. The same distinctive elements will identify Abarth on the new European markets that open up in 2008.
In the first months of the year the Abarth network will move into Switzerland and Austria, followed in the Spring by Germany, Portugal, Greece, Holland and Belgium, and by Spain, the United Kingdom, France and Poland in the Summer.
The expansion of the marketing network in Europe includes the inauguration of about 60 dealers, 120 specialist tuners and 180 service workshops. For example, the Swiss market, the first to be inaugurated, will have 6 dealers (in Geneva, Zurich, Cadenazzo, Biel Bienne, Spiezwiller and Basel), while Austria will soon have 4 dealers, in the cities of Vienna, Salzburg, Graz and Innsbruck.
We should underline that the choice of dealers is not random; only the best Fiat dealers have been chosen, in order to guarantee an efficient top quality service to customers. All the showrooms will be furnished with a uniform style, a true ‘concentrate’ of concepts and references to the Abarth world: history, sports cars, tuning kits, accessories, merchandising and the racing world.
The ‘Assetto’ and ‘esseesse’ kits for the Grande Punto Abarth are launched
An Open Day will be held in Italy in April to mark the official start of sales of the two aftermarket tuning kits for customers of the Abarth Grande Punto 1.4 Turbo T-Jet 155 bhp.
The first tuning kit – known as the ‘Assetto’ kit – includes drilled disc brakes at the front and rear, high performance front brake pads, special low profile 15/20 mm springs, 18″ alloy wheels painted white and fitted with 215/40 ZR18 Pirelli Pzero tyres.
The second trim and engine tuning kit– known as the ‘esseesse’ kit – adds several features to the contents of the ‘Assetto’ kit: a special air filter ‘powered by BMC’, a Garrett turbo, twin chrome-plated exhaust terminals, a reflash of the engine control unit with ‘esseesse’ software and engine performance boosted from 155 bhp to 180 bhp, ‘esseesse’ logos on the tailgate, wing mirror covers and an engine cover.
and ‘Assetto’ kits, which will be delivered to customers packed in original wooden crates, to respect Abarth tradition, may only be sold and installed by the official network of Abarth ‘Assetto’ Corse tuners in the Abarth Grande Punto 1.4 Turbo T-Jet 155 bhp within one year or 20,000 km from its first registration, and will be covered by a two-year Abarth warranty from the installation date.
The selling price to the public will be Euro 2,500 for the ‘Assetto’ kit and Euro 4,500 for the ‘esseesse’ kit, including the cost of homologation formalities (which will be dealt with by the official Abarth tuner), but excluding labour costs.
And finally, any customer who tunes his Abarth Grande Punto with an ‘esseesse’ kit will be entitled to join the Abarth ‘esseesse’ Club, a community of Abarth fans, who will thus be involved directly in the events organised by the Scorpion.
The Abarth Driving School – Sandro Munari
A key concept of the Abarth philosophy is a sporty driving style on board high performance, reliable cars, protected by maximum safety. This principle, and the collaboration of the sponsor Adler Plastic have been the force behind the ‘Abarth Driving School – Sandro Munari’ project.
The school was created in collaboration with the best-known Italian rally driver of all time, and it offers young people a chance to learn the best techniques with which to combine safety with enjoyable driving every day. The importance of this collaboration becomes clearer if we remember who Sandro Munari was, a driver who turned his passion for cars into a way of life. He began racing in 1964 as a rally navigator, and continued as a driver, joining the Lancia Racing Team in 1966.
His first international success came in 1967 when he won the Tour de Corse in a Lancia Fulvia HF, taking the Italian Rally title that same year, and again in 1969. The 1970s were marked by a long list of victories: he won the Monte Carlo Rally four times – in 1972 with the Lancia Fulvia HF and in ’75, ’76, and ’77 with the Lancia Stratos – and in 1974 he won the Tour de France, and was back on the first step of the podium at the Tour de Corse in 1976. In 1977 he was World Rally Champion, a title which, together with his many wins, earned him a place on the role of honour of the world’s greatest drivers.
When his racing career ended, Sandro Munari did not abandon his great passion, but decided to make his skill and experience at the wheel available to others. The ‘Sandro Munari Guida Sicura’ school opened in 1997, a safe-driving school dedicated to all motorists who want to learn how to control their cars in all conditions and to familiarise with the indispensable rules for correct behaviour behind the wheel.
The ‘Abarth Driving School – Sandro Munari’ makes available the skills and integrity of a great driver, and technology applied to safe, high performance cars like those with the Scorpion badge.
The school organises a number of courses, depending on the participants’ needs and experience, divided into hours of theory and hours of driving practice, followed by final tests which verify what participants have actually learned. After the driving test, the best three students will receive a prize, and everyone will receive a participation certificate.
This programme is part of the broader programme to give new life to the Abarth brand, and it aims to underline the importance of correct understanding of driving techniques which, combined with a technologically excellent car, will ensure greater safety on our roads. Because Abarth, quite apart from its gutsy, sporty cars, believes it is essential to raise awareness with the public, and particularly with the young, of the strategic importance of safety, prevention and highway education for any evolved society.
Plans for Abarth in South Africa are currently under evaluation.