It was a super random encounter with something that looks more like an UFO than a car and, thanks to the friendly owner, I couldn’t help but arrange a quick photoshoot with the infamous Abarth 1000 Record aka “La Principessa”.
In the 1950s Abarth was designing and building its own race cars, making itself pretty well known in the international motorsport community. To help promote the company name and brand, the founder Carlo Abarth looked to competing for international speed endurance records. In doing so, the company created several vehicles, but the most important ones, arguably, came from a collaboration between Abarth and the famous coachbuilder Pininfarina. The first car developed from this collaboration was a 750 cc Monoposto that debuted in 1957. It went on to set a Class H record by maintaining an average speed of 165,35 km/h (102.743 mph) for 72 hours.
Around the same time, Abarth had another breakthrough using its new Bialbero engine. With this engine in the Pininfarina-designed Monoposto, Abarth was able to smash its own three-hour record by more than 13,67 km/h (8.5 mph). Abarth continued to improve its designs with Pininfarina and eventually built a final series of streamlined record setters. And, the one you see here was Abarth’s primary 1,000 cc that goes by the name La Principessa.
Powered by a type 229 Bialbero engine, this silver bullet had just 108 horsepower and could hit a top speed of 218 km/h (136 mph). It set a number of Class G records at Monza between September 28 and October 1, 1960, including an average speed of 203,5 km/h (126.545 mph) over 12 hours, 198,75 km/h (123.525 mph) over 24 hours, 190,26 km/h (118.224 mph) over 48 hours, and 186,6 km/h (116.001 mph) over 72 hours. The car has been kept in storage most of its life and has been owned by the same family for most of it existence. Recently going under the hammer at the Gooding & Company auction during Monterey Car Week 2016, the Princess finally came back to Italy to her new home.