Alfa Romeo and Abarth are to be the Main Sponsors of the 101st edition, and FCA Heritage will be taking part in this great Sicilian classic race with magnificent historic Alfa Romeo and Fiat cars. Yet more confirmation of FCA's special enthusiasm for the classic car world and events that highlight its brands' racing tradition
The 101st edition of the legendary "Targa Florio", the world's oldest surviving car race, will be held in Sicily from 20 to 23 April. Originally conceived, funded and organised by Palermo magnate Vincenzo Florio for the purpose of establishing a "practical and precise criterion for assessing the travelling car", the race has been held in various forms ever since 1906. Run in its modern form by the Palermo Automobile Club in association with its national parent organisation, the event involves three competitions, held simultaneously: "Targa Florio Rally", "Targa Florio Historic Rally" and "Targa Florio Classic", a regularity competition which forms part of the Campionato Italiano Grandi Eventi AciSport season. By supporting this major automotive event, the FCA group confirms its special enthusiasm for the classic car world, clearly reflected by the key role played by its brands: Alfa Romeo and Abarth are participating as Main Sponsors, and FCA Heritage has selected important cars from the Group's past to star on the island's roads in the Targa Florio Classic. The involvement of the Group department dedicated to promoting the historic legacy of FCA's Italian brands confirms its interest in this constantly growing sector, popular with all segments of contemporary society and a source of added value for the modern automotive industry. There could be no better way of strongly reinforcing the individual brands' unique character on the worldwide scene: a heritage made up of cars and engineers, races and engines, style and innovation, that shaped technological progress and the history of racing during the last century.
Alfa Romeo recorded some of the finest achievements in its racing history at the Targa Florio by winning 10 overall victories, 3 second places, 7 third places and 10 fastest laps. As well as this amazing tally, the brand also holds two records: for consecutive victories (6 wins from 1930 to 1935) and for first and second finishes in the same year (five times). This is not to mention the many class wins, with the Giulietta SZ and the Giulia GTA, TZ and TZ2. To celebrate this illustrious racing history, Alfa Romeo is taking part in the Targa Florio Classic with four splendid cars from its Museo Storico Alfa Romeo - La macchina del tempo at Arese.
Giulietta SZ (1960)
One of the star attractions in the regularity competition for historic cars that will pass through key Sicilian locations with links to the famous race will be the 1960 Giulietta SZ. It is a second-series model with the distinctive "cut-off rear" (or Kamm tail) that easily achieves 200 km/h thanks to its amazingly efficient aerodynamics. Under the bonnet, a straight four, 1290 cc engine able to deliver 100 HP).
Giulia Sprint Speciale (1963)
The Giulia Sprint Speciale was an evolution - with 1,600 cc twin camshaft engine - of the Giulietta version of the same name, designed by Franco Scaglione for the Bertone carriage-works on the car's short-wheelbase chassis. It is one of his loveliest creations: long and wide (actually larger than the sedan), the Giulietta Sprint Speciale is an extremely low, streamlined coupé with sleek, curvy lines. The absence of bumpers and its large "shark mouth" radiator immediately gave it dream car status. But this sophisticated design was the outcome of meticulous aerodynamic research, which produced its low nose and distinctive cut-off rear. Performance was very impressive: its 1570 cc longitudinal front engine delivered 113 HP and powered the Giulia SS to a top speed of 191 km/h.
Giulia GTA (1965)
Of the Sixties Alfa Romeo models dearest to the hearts of the brand's fans, the Giulia Sprint GTA, undisputed queen of the racing scene, enjoys a very special status. Its line is virtually identical to that of the standard production "GT" cars with bodywork by Bertone: the "A" in the name stands for "Alleggerita", or "Lightweight", pointing to its most significant difference from the standard Sprint GT. The steel bodywork was replaced by ultra-light alloy panels and - thanks to the elimination of the antidrum panels, the paring down of the equipment and the use of 14" magnesium wheels - this cut the car's weight by more than 200 kg, giving a total of 745 kg compared to the 950 kg of the road Sprint GT. The 1570 cc twin camshaft engine was also modified to increase its power to 115 HP, for a top speed of over 185 km/h. The Museum's car still has a road setup, which differs from the Sprint GT in just a few details, including the simplified handles, the lighter badge, the front air inlets, the alloy wheels and the special interior.
1600 Spider "Duetto" (1966)
The 1600 Spider "Duetto" first appeared in 1966 and surprised everyone with its unusual, unconventional design by Pininfarina, quite different from other versions of the Giulia range due to its low nose and tapered "cuttlefish bone" tail, almost the opposite of the sedan's trademark cut-off rear. Its mechanics were derived from the Giulia Sprint GT, with power boosted to 109 HP at 6000 rpm and wheelbase shortened to 225 cm: its performance and driving pleasure were firmly at the top of its class, with a maximum speed of 182 km/h, rear-wheel drive and independent-wheel suspensions. The Duetto's rise to international fame was assisted by its unforgettable appearance in the film "The Graduate", in which it was driven by Dustin Hoffman. It was produced in four series and various versions up until 1994: a very long career.
In Sicily, Alfa Romeo's history meets its present. During the Targa Florio days, the latest additions to the Alfa Romeo range will be on display in some of Sicily's most prestigious locations: from Corso Umberto in Taormina, an exclusive terrace overlooking the sea, to the beautiful Piazza Verdi in Palermo, against the backdrop of the Teatro Massimo, by way of Villa Tasca - a gem of neoclassical architecture - and the University of Palermo's Museo Storico dei Motori. The spotlights will be on the thrilling Stelvio and the Giulia, the finest expression of "La meccanica delle emozioni". The Alfa Romeo brand's first SUV guarantees an adrenaline-packed driving experience, unbeatable performance and sporty style. For the first time in more than a century of history, these distinctive features of the genuine "Alfa spirit" have now come together in a sport utility vehicle. The Giulia keeps faith with the Alfa Romeo tradition and offers useful technical features, sophisticated contents and a distinctively Italian style. The Alfa Romeo Stelvio and Giulia will lead the way in the "Targa Florio Classic".
Abarth is also participating in the prestigious 101st edition as a Main Sponsor. The brand boasts a splendid tradition of successes in the Targa Florio speed competition, including the many class wins achieved with the 1000 SP - a nimble sports car ideally suited to the Madonìe roads - and with the 124 Rally model in the final Seventies editions of the event. Since the Targa Florio was transformed from a speed race to a rally, Abarth has recorded several overall victories: two with the Abarth 131 Rally, in 1979 with Adartico Vudafieri and in 1980 with Mario Pasetti, and two in 2003 and 2004 with the Fiat Punto Super 1600, driven in both cases by Paolo Andreucci, who also won in 2006 in the Abarth Grande Punto S2000. The same model was first to pass the finish line in 2009 with Luca Rossetti at the wheel. Abarth can also lay claim to the 9 overall first places won by the Lancia Rally, Lancia Delta S4 and Integrale, all cars developed by Abarth engineers.
This year, two new Abarth 124 spider cars will act as trail-blazers for the Targa Florio Rally and Historic Rally. This will grant spectators a close look at the thrusting roadster developed with input from the Abarth Racing Team, which provides all the driving pleasure and technical features expected from high-end sports cars, such as the mechanical self-locking differential. Under the bonnet is a powerful, ultra-reliable 1.4 litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine with MultiAir technology. It delivers 170 HP (about 124 HP per litre) and 250 Nm of torque, giving a top speed of 232 km/h. What's more, since engine sound is a fundamental of all Abarth cars, standard equipment includes Record Monza exhaust with Dual Mode system that modifies the path of the exhaust gas according to pressure, guaranteeing linear torque and power delivery while also generating a strong, deep roar. The new Abarth 124 spider is available with a six-speed manual or automatic Sports Sequential Esseesse gearbox.
In addition, the "Rally Targa Florio" will also include the third round of the "Trofeo Abarth 124 Rally Selenia", starring the brand's new sports cars, which are rapidly establishing themselves as the cars to beat in the R-GT category. The first two races in the Italian R-GT Championship were won by the Abarth 124 Rally of young Ligurian driver Fabrizio Andolfi Jr, whose victories placed him at the top of the overall standings ahead of the Sicilian Salvatore Riolo, also at the wheel of the Abarth 124 Rally. Impressive performances were also recorded both in the Rally Il Ciocco and in the Rallye di Sanremo.
To mark the event, three Abarth cars will be on show in Palermo's piazza Verdi, displaying the brand's values of performance, craftsmanship and constant technical upgrading to the general public. They will be the Abarth 595 Pista, presented at the recent Geneva International Motor Show, the new Abarth 124 spider and the Abarth 124 Rally, which is fitted with the direct injection twin camshaft 1800 cc turbo engine, and provides up to 300 HP at 6500 rpm with the aid of the different mappings available. Thanks to these cars, today Abarth is still a practical expression of the philosophy of Carlo Abarth, its brilliant founder, who successfully transferred all the performance and passion previously exclusive to racing cars to vehicles suitable for everyday use. Visitors to the event will also be able to find out more about the Abarth Classiche project and join "The Scorpionship" community.
The Fiat brand also has an illustrious history of participation in the Targa Florio. Fiat cars achieved victory in the historic Sicilian race on no fewer than three occasions. Marking the double anniversary of its first win at the event (by Felice Nazzaro at the race's second edition, in 1907) and its last - by Fabio Colonna in the historic regularity edition in 1957 - the Fiat brand will be on the starting line of the Targa Florio Classic with one of its most iconic cars, also launched in 1957: the 500.
Fiat 500 N (1958)
The Fiat Nuova 500 was a successful blend of engineering and emotion: it left an indelible mark on the history of motoring and society and became an icon, surviving and thriving over the decades. With almost 3.9 million built between 1957 and 1975, it is the undying emblem of mass car ownership in Italy. It was the happy combination of an inspired idea by Dante Giacosa and the ambitious strategy of range expansion and renewal which Fiat introduced even before the end of the Second World War, and responded with impeccable timing to a new demand for individual mobility. Car ownership in Italy rose from six cars per thousand inhabitants in 1950 to 330 vehicles in 1980. And the Nuova 500 met the needs of a very large and varied target. The car featured in the event has a 15 HP two-cylinder 479 cc engine, giving it a top speed of 90 km/h. Built in August 1958, it belongs to the model's first series and features the upgrades Fiat presented at the Turin Motor Show in November 1957, which improved the car's trim level: headlights with aluminium surrounds, sun blinds, aluminium trims on the bonnet and mouldings on the sides, polished aluminium hub caps, wind-down front windows, wing windows with a catches to hold them open, padded rear bench, direction indicator and light stalks on the steering column, and rubber-clad brake and clutch pedals.