1976 Fiat 131 Abarth

We've covered a good amount of Lancia's rally history in this past week, but during their spate of wins in the 1970s and 1980s, Fiat had a few successes of their own. Namely, with this car, the 131 Abarth. This car is a three time World Rally Championship, winning the title in 1977, 1978 and 1980 along with 18 race victories between 1976 and 1981. Of course, to go racing, manufacturers had to homologate the vehicle they were entering into competition, which is the genesis behind the road version we see here. These cars had the twin cam 2.0 liter Abarth engine good for 140 horsepower fed through a five speed gearbox driving the rear wheels. The seller states this is about one of 200 of the original 400 built that still exist to this day. I was surprised to see such a rare, original piece of rallying history located a little over an hour due south of my ancestral home in Portugal.

1976 Fiat 131 Abarth

131 Abarth - the nightmare of the Escort. 1 of 200 survivors of the 400 built to homologate group 4. Unique in Portugal. Four time winner of the Rally of Portugal, three times with Markku Alen (1977, 1978 and 1981) and one time with Walter Röhrl (1980). World Champion in 1977, 1978 and 1980.

2000cc, independent suspension, limited slip differential exclusive original model (same as group 4), 155-160 hp, lightweight fiber exterior panels built by Bertone, Aluminum doors. Two Weber 44 IDF carburetors with Abarth intake manifold (optional). Cromodora Wheels 15x7 "original manifold and carburetor preserved and included as standard. Engine and chassis numbers correct and original. Totally original/never restored. Imported from private collection in Italy. Much better than having money in the bank!

Beyond its pedigree and butch looks, the 131 is a significant car for me because my mother drove when I was born. Granted, her car was a pale yellow 1978 131 Mirafiori two door with a GM sourced 3 speed automatic transmission, but it still possessed the crisp Italian lines and quite comfortable seats which proved their worth on long trips. It wasn't the most reliable car, evidenced by the fact my parents traded the 131 in for a 1983 Honda Accord hatchback and owned Hondas for 15 years thereafter. Even still, it hasn't soured me on Italian cars and now, over 30 years on, cars such as this 131 Abarth have become a legend in their own right.

The asking price of €66,000 (~ $87,000 USD) is very strong money, even for such a limited run, championship winning vehicle. The exchange rate has not been kind to the dollar, but having been listed for almost two months, I can't help but think we are around $20,000 above the proper price point for this car, especially when you have low mileage Lancia Delta Integrale Evolutions out there in the $25,000 to $40,000 USD equivalent range. Granted, those cars will not be street legal in the US for another four years. For me, though, it would be worth the wait.

-Paul

Posted under: Fiat, Modern Classic
Dated: Jan 29 2012

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