Fiat, Pininfarina, Ferrari, Alfa — all these big Italian names are known for producing some of the most gorgeous cars ever during the 1960s and 1970s. The Ferrari GTO, Ferrari 250 GT SWB, Alfa Giulietta, and so many more. One rare bird that isn’t talked about as much: The Fiat Abarth 2000 Scorpio. It was essentially a stretched-out, rear-engine, prototype race car for the road. Plus, it has Porsche 928-style pop-up headlights!
The road-going prototype race car isn’t hyperbole, as the Scorpio was based on the Fiat SE 010, a tiny, small-displacement race car that was primarily utilized in European hill climb competition. Hill climb differs from other forms of racing; it’s more of a time trial event that takes place on narrow, windy mountain roads. The format favors the smallest and lightest cars possible with a lot of power and all the grip.
The Fiat SE 010 looks very similar to the Abarth 2000, and is one of many results of collaboration between Fiat and Pininfarina, another Italian automotive powerhouse. What the companies came up with was absolutely gorgeous, and first debuted in January 1969 at the Brussels Motor Show.
The 2000 has a tube-frame chassis underneath weighing just 85 pounds, gorgeously crafted fiberglass on the outside, and a beautiful-yet-sparse interior within. It really was a street-legal race car. Going one further: it had one rowdy little engine that was de-tuned from SE 010 racing spec; 2.0-liters, a dry-sump oiling system, big carburetors, and a slightly reduced compression ratio. This netted a total of 220 horsepower, just thirty less than its circuit-going sibling. Plus double-wishbone suspension architecture at all four corners, a limited-slip differential, and comically-wide little magnesium wheels: 13×8 up front, 13×10 in the real back. Total weight: just 1,631 pounds.
The engine was longitudinally mounted in the rear over the wheels, and its exhaust literally trumpets out the back directly from the headers. I wonder if this had any kind of added improved cooling benefit; like taking advantage of cold air running underneath, helping pull hot air out of every crevice.
The goofiest feature in my opinion is its headlights. The bank of headlights on the nose retracts facing up, on its back, and then pops up when turned on, like a Porsche 928. I’m not sure if it was an afterthought or very much intentional but’s oddly cool nonetheless. This must be where Ford got the inspiration for the Mercury Sable’s weird front end from (kidding, kind of). Also, this might be the best-looking skirted-rear-wheel car ever. Some clever functionality was integrated into its design as well, such as those small intakes at the front nose, and openings on its shoulders to let more air in for breathing and cooling. Form and function in gorgeous, Italian concept harmony.
One of the best YouTube channels ever, 19Bozzy92, filmed the sole Abarth 2000 Scorpio ever made at a car show a few years back; it’s a great way to appreciate its wild styling, as well as hear its mighty little 2.0-liter race engine. It seriously sounds awesome:
And here’s its race-going, SE010 sibling at a hill climb event on another YT channel; check out how much steering is required to hustle this little thing up the road! Also, scope that dog-leg gearbox with first gear back towards the driver. Enjoy!