1962 Abarth SIMCA 1300 Bialbero
Pilots: C. Dubois, G. Harris
Team: Equipe Nationale Belge
Race: 14th GC (1st in P 1.3 class) at Le Mans in 1962
Ixo - LMC 147 (diecast)
SIMCA (Société Industrielle de Mécanique et Carrosserie Automobile) was established in 1935, basically producing FIAT products for the French market. With time the brand started making cars with their original designs and engines, becoming a prolific manufacturer. In 1961 the SIMCA 1000 was introduced, still with a lot of parts coming from FIAT, and it wasn’t exactly fast. With an ongoing race program they wanted a faster car, and at the time, there was one man who made FIATs win races: Carlo Abarth.
SIMCA struck up a partnership and gave Abarth a SIMCA 1000 as the base for the project. The new car, called Bialbero 1300, had a totally new aerodynamic body. Abarth also improved the suspension and substituted the original 1.0 inline 4 cylinders for a 1288 cm³ DOHC unit that produced 90 hp. Weighing a feathery 630 kg, the new engine was enough to propel the car up to 230 km/h.
Abarth effectively became SIMCA’s racing and development department, and also sold their models to privateers. For the 24 Heures du Mans of 1962 the factory team had a squad of three Bialbero 1300, but unfortunately none of the three cars were able to finish the race. The only Bialbero 1300 that crossed the finish line was Equipe Nationale Belge’s #43, their only car in the race. The yellow #43 was the only car in the P 1.3 class to finish the race, so by default was the class winner, coming in 14th overall.
I already had a (very nice) Abarth from this same 1962 race. But when I saw this yellow one and found out it was a class winner, I just couldn’t resist. Awesome little bugger, that compared to the much more expensive Spark, holds its ground. IMO it only sins in the headlight department, because of the “dead eye lenses”. The Spark is a little better detailed, but you have to pay close attention to see where it is so. However, in terms of bang-for-the-buck, this is very possibly the better model.