THREE PERFORMANCE BRANDS USED BY MAINSTREAM MAKERS
Carlo Abarth worked wonders in the 1950s and 1960s, most famously souping up Fiat 500s, although he worked on plenty of other models too. By 1971, he had sold his business to Fiat, which turned it into a go-faster sub-brand. In 2007, Fiat set up Abarth as a separate brand in its group with a view to selling hot 500s and Grande Puntos.
Amédée Gordini tuned cars in the 1930s but later started to produce his own in limited numbers. A switch from Simca to Renault in the 1950s led to Renault-gordinis being campaigned in the Le Mans 24 Hours throughout the 1960s. The Dauphine Gordini arrived in 1957 as well as other Gordinifettled Renaults, including the 5, 12, 17 and 8. Renault revived the brand in 2009 for sporty versions of the Twingo and Clio.
The first RS (Rallye Sport) car, the Taunus 15M produced by Ford of Germany, is 50 years old. But it took another two years before the RS brand really resonated with fast-ford fans, with the Escort RS1600 in 1970. The fast Escort was the work of Ford’s newly established Advanced Vehicle Operations, which came up with a raft of hot Capris, Escorts and Fiestas.