Lot 56 (Chateau Impney, 10th July 2016)
Registration No: PNW507C
Chassis No: 114BS117899
Mot Expiry: Jan 2017
- Supplied new in France and converted for race use by Ferrari specialist Kerry McSwann during the late 1980s
- Finished 3rd overall in the 1991 FIA European Historic Touring Car Championship
- Recommissioned since entering the current ownership in 2014 including a thorough engine overhaul
Styled by Sergio Sartorelli and previewed on the Ghia stand at the 1960 Turin Salon whilst the Italian carrozzeria was toying with the idea of in-house production, the Fiat Ghia 2300 Coupe was officially unveiled in 1961 and hit showrooms the following year. Based on a modified Fiat 2300 Saloon platform, the Coupe's construction was outsourced to OSI. Designed by Ferrari's former powerplant maestro Aurelio Lampredi, the model's 2279cc OHV straight-six engine developed an unstressed 105bhp / 136lbft in standard tune. Abarth liberated a further 31bhp and 9lbft for the 'S' variant via the use of a higher compression ratio, hotter camshaft and two twin-choke weber carburetors. Equipped with four-wheel disc brakes, the 2300S Coupe was among the fastest and most attractive GTs of the early 1960s, outperforming the Lancia Flaminia and the Alfa Romeo 2600. Renowned for his tuning prowess, Carlo Abarth developed a competition version that thanks to its enlarged 2323cc capacity, triple (40 DCOE) twin-choke Weber carburetors, 9.8:1 compression ratio, more aggressive camshaft and re-routed exhaust etc developed some 210bhp. Capable of over 130mph, Fiat commissioned three such cars for the 1963 season. Paul Frere / Lucian Bianchi drove one to 2nd overall (and 1st-in-class) at the Nurburgring 12-hour race, while Rudi Golderner / Karl von Kothen piloted another to 9th overall during the same event and also managed 12th overall on the Tour de France.
This particular example was supplied new by Fiat-France as a road car in April 1965. Twenty-three years later it was purchased by Patrick Mersch with a view to entering the European Endurance and FIA Historic Race Series. Kerry McSwann was tasked with the conversion to racing specification. A Ferrari specialist who looked after Tom Walduck's collection at the time, he managed to source various original and scarce Abarth competition parts (such as an aluminium bonnet and competition sump). Campaigned during the late 1980s / early 1990s at the likes of Paul Ricard, Zandvoort, Silverstone, Österreichring, Vallelunga and Monza etc, the 2300S also contested the Historic Grand Prix de Provence (1992), Nürburgring Old Timer Grand Prix (1990, 1991) and indeed placed 3rd overall in the 1991 FIA European Historic Touring Car Championship. Turned over regularly and treated to oil changes / general maintenance, the Coupe was otherwise little used for twenty-two years up until 2014 when it left Mr Mersch's custody. Recommissioned thereafter and having covered less than 1,000km since its engine was extensively overhauled during winter 2015, more recent work has seen the Fiat Abarth treated to new clutch and brake master cylinders.
The specification of the car comprises: Koni / Spax shock absorbers, stiffer springs, strengthened rear bulkhead, roll bar, new seat harnesses, competition AB Tunaverken alloy wheels shod with Avon CR6ZZ's and harder suspension bushes. A dyno sheet on file charts engine power at 145bhp. As presented today, the car is potentially well-suited to FIA Historic Racing Series (having previously been registered 'F. Historic B'), not to mention the Tour de France Auto, Coppa Dolomiti and other long distance events. The roll cage can be removed and the car reverted to normal road use (the rear seat accompanies the car). Performance wise the Coupe is equivalent to a Jaguar XK120 or Aston Martin DB2/4, so ideal for fast road / competition use, as verified by recent competition times when testing the car. A quantity of new and used spare parts including a second engine with Abarth stamped sump are available by separate negotiation. The accompanying history file contains a French Carte Gris, UK V5C Registration Document, expired FIA HVIF papers, engine performance reports, invoices, manuals, part lists, and period racing reports for the Fiat 2300S.