With scarcely a curve on it, this etch-a-sketch-straight Fiat caught our attention recently, a 131 Abarth Rally. In 1976, to comply with homologation requirements, Fiat took 400 examples of the hot, two door Mirafiori from the production line and modified it for rallying. This meant using plastic for the bonnet and bootlid, and adding independent rear suspension. The dry-sumped inline four cylinder two litre twin cam engine gives 202BHP using Kugelfischer fuel injection. This rally special has no synchromesh and dismal brakes from a Fiat 127. Oh we love an underdog.

In ’77 Fiat won the World Rally Championship with Markku Alén at the wheel of a 131, and again in 1980 with Walter Röhrl driving. Between 1976 and 1981 the Fiat 131 won 20 WRC events before Fiat moved on to the Lancia 037 program. We spotted this one trundling up the hill at Goodwood with our chum Alex Goy at the wheel, at a slightly less frantic pace.

If hot Lancias are beyond your means and, like us, you’ve never been that excited by expensive Escorts, then you might like to know you can pick up a standard Mirafiori from about £5000 (see here, for example). Considering the rally heritage and performance this box of tricks looks like a winner to us MotorPunks.

Pics; Lex Pearce, Rich Duisberg.

About The Author

Rich Duisberg

Rich Duisberg* has had work published in Classic & Sportscar, Practical Performance Car, Modern Mini, Banzai, MogMag, Evo, GT Porsche, Complete Kit Car, Absolute Lotus, Alternative Cars, Classic Retro Modern, and elsewhere. Rich often appears on CBS’s XCAR and Carfection channels, and Motors TV, plus JayEmm on Cars, enthusing about historic motoring. His latest book (find his work on Amazon) was described by SniffPetrol as "hilarious", although he was also threatened with legal action by elderly DJ Tim Westwood. In his Midlands man cave is a 1972 Fiat 500, a Lotus Elise, a BMW barge and a vintage Royal Enfield pushbike. Previous machines of interest include an Mk1 MX5 (owned for 14 years!), an Alfa GTV6, a Porsche 968 and a Sinclair C5. The Metro (right) was bought for an experiment, and abandoned in Africa. "I am not getting in a car with him" -  said Le Mans winner, Derek Bell. *A nom-de-plume inspired by the BBC's League of Gentlemen.

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