Click here for the story of Mike Lowe’s adventures on the Targa New Zealand – An AC500 converted for rallying. It is a great read.
The big Turbo kit is coming, we are currently finalising the kit and optimising the turbo.
When I first became involved with the Abarth 500 I was told by Italy that the power limits were governed by the turbos and the pistons. I was told that the standard IHI VL38 would only pass enough air for 163bhp and the Garrett 1446 choked at about 200. I asked about more boost and was told that the top land on the pistons collapses and traps the top ring.
I became somewhat confused when many tuners began quoting big power outputs.
Earlier this year I sold a car to New Zealand and the new owner wanted more than the standard 190 that the AC has, so I made some phone calls. The tuners that were advertising 240bhp began to shy away when I asked probing questions. One company told me, ‘Yeah, 240 is easy possible we can get over 200 with the IHI turbo.’ OK so they are bull shitters, I know that isn’t possible.
I started to talk to Marten Bonner, one of the few people using a 500 for competition. He had a Garrett 1446 fitted and spent a fortune on mapping for the SLS series at Knockhill race circuit. He had the power checked for the series and found that he only had 150 despite his mapper telling him that he had 240. The first time he used increased boost the shaft in the turbo snapped and the turbine wheel made a bid for freedom down the exhaust pipe. I took him up a replacement turbo and an ECU with our standard 190bhp mapping – bingo he went 3 seconds a lap faster than he had gone before.
We wound the boost up and the second 1446 also snapped the shaft so I went and spoke to my old friends at Turbo Technics. Geoff Kershaw looked at the exhaust turbine and said ‘not big enough’ so Pete and the lads built us a hybrid turbo with more flow. It wasn’t a direct replacement but effectively we just needed a new downpipe.
Marten had fitted an aftermarket front mount intercooler so at the same time as fitting the bigger turbo we fitted one with a lot more flow capacity.
As soon as we drove the car we knew that it was a different animal. A remap and we have 1.6 bar of boost from 3000 to the red line with a maximum power of 242bhp at 5500 with a completely standard engine other than one of our flywheels and clutch.
Marten power plot What this has confirmed to me is that anybody claiming over 165bhp with an IHI or 195 with a 1446 is talking through their posterior. More than 195 and the turbine shaft snaps.
We will be able to supply a kit in the near future and are about to try the TT hybrid on a Multiair as per the American cars, the later Puntos and the Alfa Mito. For a base A500 the kit will have to include the 2.5 bar boost and MAP sensors, bigger injectors and longer oil feed and drain pipes. The front panel has to be trimmed to accommodate the big compressor housing, but otherwise the car can remain standard.
New Steel race car grilles
Painted satin black with an ABARTH logo in white. They increase the airflow to the radiator and intercoolers, dropping the intake temperature and giving more power. £95 plus VAT and P&P.
Set of 4 Alloys (White or Antracite) 7 x 17″ with ET38 offset with the drilling 4 x 98. 12 Spokes, heavy engraving around the outside lip £340 + VAT
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We are Abarth and Fiat 500 road and motorsport specialists, and want to help you choose the best parts to modify and personalise your car.