Only 20 made, the Porsche Abarth Carrera GTL

In 1959, Porsche raced a 1.6L Carrera coupe which had the same lines as the production cars. Racing, a competition of man and machine pitted the daring and fastest against each other in a closed circuit. It was common knowledge that the lighter the car, the faster it would go. For race cars, FIA regulations allowed a lighter GT Chassis to be entered.

Carlo Abarth, (b1906-d1979) was an Austrian born, Italian raised motorcycle designer. His most mentionable creation was a side-car for motorcycles in which a second rider could be included on a ride. In 1934, he gained world recognition by having one his modified motorbikes beat the infamous ORIENT EXPRESS RAILWAY on a 810 mile stretch between Vienna and Ostend. It was also in 1934 Carlo met Ferdinand Porsche‘s son-in-law Anton Piëch. It was a close a friendships, so close, that not much later, Carlo ended up marrying Anton’s secretary. Carlo involved himself in high stakes Porsche racing, taking the Carrera to its limits. He was we well known and made quite a name for himself. Four years of heavy racing, while driving a course in Yugoslavia, Carlo was involved in a serious car accident that ended his racing career. He loved Porsche so much he involved himself in repairing, rebuilding and restoring the Porsche. His garage could handle just about any automobile it could get its hands on. It took almost twenty-five years for Carlo to get enough grounding to get the ultimate respect from Porsche. He was sent twenty Speedster chassis’ in hopes of creating a lighter car that would meet the FIA regulations. At the time as well, he also had to solve a much greater technical problem of decreasing the frontal area of the car by lowering the front hood/wing scoops. In that redesign, he changed openings in the front to allow for one hole for oil cooling and two holes (one for each side) designed to allow for front brake cooling.

The 1960 LeMans clocked the new lightweight at 137mph. With some few extra changes, the Abarth trimmed out at 140 mph, which was entirely remarkable for that era.

Carlo had the skin of the new race car smoothly revamped in all aluminum, plus replacing all windows, except the front windshield, around the car in Plexiglass. The rear quarter panel windows were handsomely rounded and curved with with large swooping curves. On the rear portion of the car he dominated all panels to be louvered vents and having an adjustable air scoop. He flushed door handles so they wouldn’t stick out. He switched out the factory tachometer with the Spyder type which indicated a full racing engine 0 – 10,000 RPM range. He moved oil pressure gauges closer to the engine, on the centerboard floor. Doing so reduced weight by not having shorter oil lines, closer thermostats then compared to the factory types. He also removed and replaced many of the convenient interior door latches to be leather straps-latch operators. All but the most essential interior features were removed.

Race tracks and moving about curves at fast rate of speed will pull the driver about the seats. Carlo had the seats recovered with body gripping gray corduroy centers and black vinyl sides. He also altered the shape of the seats by having higher and more pronounced sides for better lateral support. Some drivers felt in comparison to the Speedster, you would feel like you were even closer to the ground because the window had a steeper angles that cut back closer to the driver with that feel of lower headroom. The radio and ashtray were removed as too anything regarding comforts to cut weight. Even the glove box door was cut out leaving only an opening for the passenger.

He did leave the Porsche nameplate on the car, but added his own Abarth crest on the sides, signifying the country to list itself as “Turin, Italy“. His cars had two choices of engines, one being a 1600cc 692/3 or 962/3a Carrera engine. He sourced the 60mm wide front drum brakes from the 550. He also needed to design a way to decrease oversteer and cut body roll so had adapted into his cars an axle fixed leaf spring known as the S-90 type camber compensator. Koni shock absorbers usually replaced the stock hydraulic, telescopic double-acting ones. He retained the stock 4 1/2 x 115 perforated steel wheels but only to produce alloy types.

Porsche was so amazed at the sport adaptations of this car, some of the Abarth cars were sent one of three versions of the type 587 engine (ie. same engine eventually used in the 904).

The Abarth Carrera raced from 1960 – 1963.


Targa Florio – class win

Nurburgring 1000 km – class win

Le Mans 24 hour – class win

Tourist Trophy, Goodwood – class win


Le Mans 24 hour – class win

Tourist Trophy, Goodwood – class win

Paris 1000 km Race, Monthery -class win


Sebring 12 hour – class win

Targa Florio – class win

Nurburgring 1000 km, class win

Le Mans 24 hour, class win

Bridgehampton Twin 400km, first overall


Sebring 24 hour, class win

26 responses to “Only 20 made, the Porsche Abarth Carrera GTL

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  2. Pingback: Presentation of a concept car with Augmented Reality « Between Creativity & Safety

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  4. I am really impressed along with your writing abilities as well as with the layout for your blog. Is this a paid topic or did you modify it your self? Anyway stay up the nice quality writing, it’s rare to look a great blog like this one these days. Goodbye from India

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  8. You have a great way with words as shown in your article. You’re even good with informational content like you have here. I like your views and your writing technique. Keep up the good work!

    • I hope that i can keep everyone’s interest up regarding Porsche and they really should fit into everyone’s lives. As a modern form of industrial design, this specific company really did have the courage to go beyond what was capable. To me it was a test to race, not who has the biggest balls.

    • if you feel there is something that I might do for you let me know … anything you want to know about porsche …let me know.. i have been spending a lot of recent time researching material, working on my car..and driving it all i can.

    • Hi Bubble shooter.. I dont’ mean to be silent..i’ve been working on some 911 projects and i hope to add more stories to my blog. Thanks so much for your support.

    • Hi Wil

      Thanks for your interest on my Abarth story… I think you are right about it being 21, and appreciate you contacting me to let me know. Drop me a line. Hey.. would you happen to have an really good vintage images of Le Mans that might be 1.5MB or better? I am needing it for a story. Could you email to me?

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