29 December 2011

The History of Abarth

Original Writing for O'Brien Automotive

Abarth is currently a separate Racing Oriented Division of Fiat. Since 2007 Fiat have maintained the division for purposes of turning Fiat street vehicles into more performance oriented tarmac burners. While they are currently a modern era tuner shop for Fiat, they have quite a history all their own, dating back to 1949.

Carlo Abarth and Armando Scagliarini started the company in 1949 as a small Italian sports car maker. Just a few years later, 1952, they began their long running relationship with Fiat. The built the Abarth 1500 Biposto, an experimental coupe with cutting edge, ultra-modern lines. The relationship continued into the 1960’s with Abarth building vehicles that achieved great success within hill climbing events and sports car racing.

In 1971 Abarth was acquired by Fiat and transformed into the racing division for the Italian company. The division had large success in helping Fiat, and other divisions of the company, in rally cars. Abarth also helped shuffle in the genre now known as “boy racer” cars. Great handling cars with a good power to weight ratio, and good economy. This is the genre that eventually stole a lot of business from the traditional “muscle car” buyers. As gas prices have increased, the “boy racer” car has continued to survive.

Now in 2012, North America will finally get its hands on an Abarth tuned Fiat 500. The car features a bump in power, better handling, and some vicious looking graphics, complete with Abarth’s ominous scorpion logo. It’s expected that this tuned hot hatch will be very competitive with the Mini Cooper S, which as of now, is long overdue for an updated design.

There is no official release date for the Fiat 500 Abarth, but we are anxiously awaiting its arrival here at O’Brien Fiat, and make sure to check back here for more updates as we get more information.

05 December 2011

Do you have a Winter Emergency Kit?

Winter weather has already rolled into the Mid-West which leads to the question, are you prepared for the unknown. In metro areas like Indianapolis people often don’t think about making sure they have provisions in their vehicle for an unforeseen emergency, but reality is you can get stranded in urban environments, just as in rural areas.

Understandably most people don’t wish to carry a Zombie Apocalypse Survival kit in their car. The more you carry around with you, the more gas you use. There are some important things you can put together that won’t break your EPA rating or your bank account.

I put my stuff together in an extra backpack I had lying around the house, but any bag will work. I use the bag just to keep everything from flying all over the trunk. Here’s what most experts recommend you keep on hand.

• Thermal Blanket (if you often have passengers 2 or more may be a good idea)
• Gloves
• Winter Hat
• Maps
• Knife (or other device for cutting)
• First Aid Kit
• Flashlight (and extra batteries)
• Battery Powered Radio (these are really inexpensive these days)
• Road Flares
• Rope (50 to 100 feet)
• Shovel (folding compact shovels won’t fit in the bag, but will easily stow in the car)

Outside of the Emergency Kit, I always try to make sure I have my Phone Charger in the car as well. If you’re like me, I often don’t wear a big winter coat if I’m planning on being in the car most of my trip. I actually keep an extra jacket in the car. It’s my least attractive, beaten up and old coat, but if I slide off the road into a ditch, fashion is the last thing on my mind. Another thing not on the official list is a few bottles of water and a snack. I throw them in my bag, granted they freeze pretty quick, but I feel better knowing I have some supplies. I find a couple of LARA Bars keep well, they taste great and it’s always best to be prepared, my kids even eat them.

We don’t tend to have treacherous winters here in Indiana, but we do get our share of storms, and the O’Brien Automotive Family wants to see you stay safe through those chilling wintry days.

Please share your comments on what other things are good to carry with you.