Abarth was founded in 1949 when Carlo Abarth took over a bankrupt sports car racing team. The company scored motorsport success in the 1950s and 1960s but made its money producing tuning parts for Italian brands like Fiat and Lancia - so it was little surprise when the Fiat Group took over Abarth in 1971. Since then, the badge has been used on performance editions of cars like the 131, Strada and Stilo.
Recently, though, Fiat has tried to establish Abarth as a standalone brand - in the same way that Citroen has managed to split off DS. The Abarth badge is used on versions of the Fiat 500, ranging from mild upgrades to the regular car to the extravagantly priced Maserati edition.
Abarth’s impact as its own marque is not being helped by that restriction to one model - although it is likely to gain another vehicle in its line-up when Fiat introduces a tuned version of its recently launched 124 Spider.