If you’re lucky enough to spot more than one Abarth Carrera in a paddock, pore over the details — because there’s a good chance you’ll find a few discrepancies. Some of the well-known differences include the jack-receiver location, taillight and rear reflector placement, covered or uncovered headlamps, front hoods with and without fuel-filler access holes, and faired-in lower driving/fog lamps.
None of these detail differences distract from a basic truth, however: The Carrera Abarth GTL was one of Porsche’s most beautiful race cars. Take, for example, chassis 1008 — one of the early cars. Its unadorned body represents the simpler end of Abarths, while its lesser known history is among the more interesting.
Scania placed its order for a GTL upon the new Porsche’s debut. When 1008 arrived, it was registered to Tekn. Dr. S. Arvidsson Automobil AK in Stockholm, Sweden and assigned license plate EJY 630. The new coupe, reported Racing magazine, made its first public appearance at a sports car show in Stockholm on March 25, 1961. The plan was for Hammarlund to race 1008 in the Swedish Championship for GT cars up to two liters.
Its first outing came on May 1 at Skarpnäck, a World War II military airfield just outside Stockholm used for racing between 1948 and 1970. Recorded Racing, “Behind the wheel he was fast and very precise, but not a spectator’s favorite. While most of the other Porsche drivers were sliding about, Hammarlund simply drove away from them without any fuss. He always had his car in perfect trim, thanks to his mechanic Willy Dolling.”
Today, Dolling is quite modest in relating his role: “My goal and ambition was to always to ensure the motors were running at their best. The preparation work on the Abarth before a competition wasn’t too difficult, as I had lots of experience from working on many Porsche 356s.” Under Dolling’s supervision, the flat four, front suspension, and transmission were disassembled, inspected, and carefully reassembled for each race. He also paid close attention to the car’s handling.
“During a test we found that, during acceleration, the nose lifted slightly and the front wheels lost traction a little,” recalls Dolling. “With around 10 kilograms (22 pounds) added in the nose, it went faster and was more nimble in and out of curves. I’d like to claim the Abarth was then the fastest (1.6 GT) car in Europe.” Racing magazine seemed to agree with Dolling. “At road circuits in Sweden and Finland, no one could touch him,” it wrote.
So does Tomas Karlson: “Hammarlund just blew the others away at Helsinki on May 13, 1963. A second Abarth Carrera (believed to be 1005) showed up in the championship, but it couldn’t touch him.” Hammarlund was protested at Helsinki to no avail, and his success continued to be dogged by controversy. At Skrea on August 5, his car was protested after practice for being underweight. A trip to the scales proved otherwise. Hammarlund easily won the race, taking a second consecutive Swedish GT title. But he wasn’t happy.