Carlo Abarth, from Meran to Vienna and back
In the chaos and confusion of borders, battles, peace treaties and personal relationships, Carlo Abarth, born Karl and later naturalized Italian, had an eventful life always connected with the quiet of Meran, city of origin of his father’s family. Entrepreneur and pilot he was born in Vienna on 15th November 1908 and, while his father, officer of the Austro-Hungarian empire, worked for a decaying empire, young Karl already showed an increasing interest in speed and curiosity about mechanics.
In 1919, after World War I that confirmed the end of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and had as a result the First Austrian Republic, Abarth’s father went back to his origins, in Italy, in Meran, where he took care of old family business and where he chose Italian citizenship, but soon his parents split up and his mother went back to Austria. Meanwhile, young Karl Abarth began to work as mechanic, to race motorbike and to work with Castagna garage in Milan that collaborated with the Mechanical Engineering University of Vienna for precision mechanics, he also worked with Degan that produced motorbike chassis.
Here a pilot of Motor Thun racing stable noticed him and he was taken to test and overhaul motorbikes and here he designs his first chassis. During the collaboration with this motorbikes fabric he has the chance to show his ability when he has to replace a sick pilot. On 29th July 1928he wins his first race as pilot and later he would be European champion five times, along with continuing his engineering work and often going back to Meran to see his father. After the outbreak of World War II he moves to Meran where he changes his German sounding name Karl into the Italian Carlo and later he obtains Italian citizenship. On 15th April 1949 in Turin he founds the historical brand that has made him famous all around the world and he chooses as logo a shield with a stylized scorpion, the symbol of his zodiac sign. With the pilot Guido Scagliarini he creates a racing team using the vehicles he had obtained from the liquidation of the failed Cisitalia project. The victories of the team promote the company so that it achieves immediate success, above all for its silencers that help to obtain better performances. Thereupon it starts to produce the famous conversion kits and to collaborate with FIAT, until in 1955 comes out the Abarth 750 GT a sporting series of Fiat 600 with also a different style.
Great success of a man from Meran who never stopped to spend his summer holidays in Meran and to love his place of origin that on 18th October 2008 has dedicated him a street in Sinigo, in the industrial area of the city.