Posts Tagged ‘Lucio Cesario’

(M Feisst)

Gay Cesario gives the engine of his Abarth Simca GT 1300 a final tweak with an admiring crowd checking out the lines of the car at the Sandown Tasman Round in February 1967…

Australia is a country of immigrants, even the Aboriginals, our indigenous people arrived here some 25,000 to 40,000 years ago.

As a ‘Skip’ (Anglo Australian) the travails of migrants are not something I ever thought much about. But having gone out with three post-war sixties/seventies migrant kids in the last decade- a (crazy) Croatian, Scot and an Italian i am now highly aware of the guts it takes to jump onto a ship staking your entire future on a faraway land they knew bugger-all about in those pre-internet times.

The reason most of them have so much zip- get up and go is that they left with nothing and arrived with lots of drive and ambition with their legs spinning at one hundred miles an hour well before their disembarkation at Station Pier. Look out ‘Skips, we are coming through you lazy buggers!

The Italian Cesario’s were one such family. Gay Cesario packed his family of five into the little Abarth Simca 1300 for the trip from Rome to Naples and embarkation from there before the long voyage to Melbourne, where they arrived in the mid-sixties.

Lucio Cesario recalls- ‘Dad bought the car just out of Rome at a hillclimb ‘on the spot’ and drove it straight home that day. Some time later he decided to ship the family and the car to Australia so we drove from Rome to Naples, a four or five hour drive. There was my mum, dad, brother, sister, me and all our belongings crammed into the racecar, including some spares as we were shipping it out from Naples on the same ship. Boy I wish I knew where the little car is today!?’

Gay Cesario raced the car in Australia, its whereabouts as you can see from Lucio’s comment above unknown. Gay raced on, I can well remember him running a Fiat 124 Abarth in Victorian production sportscar races well into the mid-seventies at least. Lucio was a well known racer during Australia’s Formula Pacific era, he parlayed immense Ralt RT4 speed into a season or so with the works Lancia Team during the Group C era- that is an interesting story for another time.

(automobile sportive)

Abarth Simca 1300 GT…

Simca was founded by Italian entrepreneur Enrico Teodoro Pigozzi in 1935 to build Fiat’s for the French market. After WW2 Simca continued to produce the cars but they were given more unique character by fitment of different grilles and engines. In 1961 the company launched its most successful model – the Simca 1000. It was the concern’s first rear-engined car, a neat four-door saloon powered by a Fiat 600-derived 944cc 4-cylinder engine giving circa 35bhp in standard form.

Carlo Abarth’s old Viennese sparring partner, Rudi Hruska, became a technical consultant to Simca and regularly brought Abarth’s successes with its Fiat-based cars to the company hierachies attention. The idea of competition success appealed to help build the brand so Abarth were invited and engaged to produce a GT car using Simca 1000 components as a base. The ‘Simca-Abarth’ or ‘Abarth-Simca’ names are interchangeable- the 1300 GT was the result.

Abarth designed a new engine using the tried and tested broad architecture of the 1961 1000 Bialbero of 1288cc with the new cars floor pan, transmission, steering and suspension from the Simca 1000 whilst the body was of the latest Fiat-Abarth Coupe configuration.

The Simca-Abarth 1300 was launched in February 1962. The 1288cc, DOHC, twin 45 DCOE Weber fed 4 cylinder engines produced over 90 bhp @ 6,000 rpm, the cars proved capable of running rings around the rival Alfa Romeo Giulietta during 1962. The two valve engines specification included dry-sump lubrication, a rev limit of 7,200rpm and a claimed power output of 125bhp at 6,000rpm- more like 90 but certainly more than enough. The little car weighed 630kg/1388lbs and was capable of 142 mph.

The subsequent 1600 variant with 138bhp at 7,800rpm and with Girling disc brakes all round was capable of 240km/h – 149mph. Fast cars indeed.

Abarth’s 1963 racing record is said to have achieved a staggering 535 victories, of which 90 were scored by the Simca Abarth 1300s.

The body design of the GT Coupe was also influenced by the latest small-capacity GTs styled in-house by Mario Colucci at Abarth’s famous Corso Marche factory and was built ‘just around the corner’ there by Odoardo Beccari’s specialist carrozeria.

Credits…

Mike Feisst/The Roaring Season, Lucio Cesario/Thunder 427 on The Roaring Season, Bonhams, Ultimate Cars, Automobile Sportive