Some cars have the 'wow' factor the first time you see them; for example this car to our eyes is pretty well stocked up on the 'wow' stuff. The custom-mixed gold paint, the 14" wheels that shouldn't 'work' but do and the subtly flared arches to accommodate them. But then you notice other little things; what's with all of the the vents and scoops up front and is that engine cover, propped up in a jaunty Abarth-esque manner, a matter of necessity rather than fashion? The answer to that last question is an emphatic yes, as one look at the engine will confirm.
The car in question isn't an Italian confection; it's an Argentinan-market Fiat 600R, produced by Sevel in Argentina from 1960 to 1982. It may have been built nearly 7000 miles from it's spiritual heartland, but that hasn't stopped the long-time owner Marcelo Palumbo tapping into it's fiery scorpion DNA. The modifications to the car started out simply enough; the usual upgrade to the rolling stock, tinted glass and a sports exhaust were about the sum of the changes. But a few bench-racing sessions with his friends meant that his plans for the car got more serious. Turbo serious.
With help from Argentinian speed shop Pellegrini Engineering, he hatched a cunning plan to turbo the car's tiny 767cc four cylinder engine. Marcelo fabricated a single turbo installation using a Garrett T2, custom-made pistons rated for up to 30psi, with larger valves (32mm intake, 27mm exhaust), uprated valve springs and copious head work to match. The bottom end consists of a nitrided crankshaft and balanced conrods from a Fiat 133 (the SEAT 133 that was sold in Argentina), which took capacity out to 900cc. The fabrication extended to a custom-made injection plenum, initially using VW Gol injectors fed by a Bosch fuel pump, and the fitment of all the relevant sensors needed when converting a carburettor engine to EFI, no small task as any person who's gone through this rite of passage will attest. Engine management is taken care of by an Electromotive TecM ECU. The BMW air vents mounted on the front are there for more than looks; they supply much needed air to the uprated radiator, while an air-to-air intercooler was mounted in the engine compartment to give the Garrett a little backup. The target for Marcelo was 20psi, but after software calculations it seemed that arming the engine with one T2 turbo was not enough to get to the magic figure. But two on the other hand...
Now you don't need to be a turbo expert to imagine that suddenly doubling the blower count isn't going to need more upgrading, even with all of the engine work already undertaken. New pipework was made to take the turbos, which are cleverly configured so that each turbo only feeds two cylinders each, while beefier Bosch green injectors intended for a V8 took over from the Gol items, with a larger air-to-water intercooler being made to keep an eye on the often incandescent twins. With this fitted, it's hoped that the the turbo boost can be doubled to reach the magic 20 psi figure and 60-70bhp.
The car was stripped and uprated to take full advantage of the blown horses now galloping out of the engine bay; the wheels tubs were modded to accommodate the fat (for a 600) 7.5x14 wheels and 185/55/14 rubber, while coilvovers, a quicker rack and Fiat Palio vented discs and calipers round out the suspension changes.
Interior changes are limited to Fiat Uno seats and carpet, a sound system and a phalanx of gauges keeping tabs on that very special engine out back. We'll refrain from making 'sting in the tail' remarks, but judging by the noise in the video below, this 600 is batting a 1000.
Original Spanish text here; and a link to Pellegrini Racing here.
Some buildup shots:
And some noise: