Abarth Classiche 1300 OT: the Alfa Romeo 4C lives! But fortunately not for long… | CAR Magazine

Abarth Classiche 1300 OT: the Alfa Romeo 4C lives! But fortunately not for long…

Published: 15 April 2024 Updated: 15 April 2024

► Surprise Abarth Classiche 1300 OT
► Based on Alfa Romeo 4C sportscar
► Just five examples will be built

The Alfa Romeo 4C should have been an Abarth from the beginning. Fiat’s in-house tuning brand has built a reputation not for delivering ultra-precise driving weaponry but rather cheeky, raucous cars that can put a grin on your face in spite – or perhaps because – of their flaws. Hence its great fun to see the 4C chassis resurrected again for a limited run of Abarth Classiche 1300 OT models.

Created as a 75th anniversary present to Abarth by the Stellantis Heritage team (who knew?), this new two-seater, mid-engined sports car is a homage to Abarth OT 1300 of 1965. The original was also based on a donor chassis – that of the contemporary Fiat 850.

Just five examples will be produced as part of an ongoing ‘Reloaded by Creators’ project. As yet none have been completed; the only physical example present at the announcement was a 1:3 scale model.

Unusually, Stellantis claims it’s still looking for buyers – typically this limited run stuff is sold out before we get to see it – but given it hasn’t released a price, or very much concrete info at all really, we’re guessing the customer vetting process has already begun.

Wait. Wasn’t the Alfa 4C terrifying?

Exactly. The Italians managed to produce a full carbonfibre sports car at roughly the same price point as a Porsche Cayman, but forgot to do anything about making it good to drive. Rumours remains rife about fundamental geometry issues in the suspension design; regardless, your humble scribe drove several 4Cs back when they were new, and the best thing you could say about them was that you certainly felt alive. As in, relieved you still were after turning the engine off.

Abarth Classiche 1300 OT - front, yellow, driving

Add that to the barmy cacophony of said 1.7-litre turbo and dual-clutch gearbox combo, and an interior with wildly amusing control decisions and plastic toy quality, and maybe you can understand why it might have worked better as an Abarth in the first place. No-one would have expected cutting edge handling capability, and they’d have swallowed the rest of it as ‘character’.

So what’s the deal with the Classiche 1300 OT?

The proportions give the 4C chassis away, but it’s rebodied – or at least, the front and rear clamshells have been changed. The result is arguably a little too much like a kitcar, but the sideview is neat, and the stacked headlights are similar to the Abarth Classiche 1000 SP, a previous limited-run of re-worked 4Cs developed by Stellantis Heritage in 2021. The 1300 OT is described as an ‘evolution’ of that car.

The scoop on the roof isn’t a McLaren F1 reference. It’s supposed to be reminiscent of the snorkel intake fitted to the new car’s namesake and influence, the Abarth OT 1300. The original’s is far more pronounced and upright, but we suspect there were some modern design and safely limitations for the remake.

Abarth Classiche 1300 OT - yellow, side detail, showing graphics, 'hand painted' door numbers, classic-style alloy wheels and roof scoop

No power or performance details have been given, but it seems unlikely the new Abarth will have any more power than the 4C’s 237bhp, and will probably deliver a similar 4.5sec 0-62mph time. For while Stellantis might have a stack of spare engines and chassis sitting around, we doubt there’s much additional development budget.

The whole thing seems a harmless enough exercise, and very much in keeping with the spirit of the Abarth brand.

Anything else happening to celebrate 75 years of Abarth?

There’s also a temporary exhibition taking place at the Fiat Heritage Hub located at Fiat’s Mirafiori HQ displaying 38 historic Abarth models, many of which have been borrowed from private collections.

And a 75th anniversary edition of the Abarth 695 – the 695 75 Anniversario. This is limited to 1368 examples, and gets a natty black and gold paint job, but is otherwise largely like any other 178bhp Abarth 500 with all the options attached.

By CJ Hubbard

Head of the Bauer Digital Automotive Hub and former Associate Editor of CAR. Road tester, organiser, reporter and professional enthusiast, putting the driver first