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's drivel regularly appears in Practical Performance Car and GT Porsche magazines. He has also written for Classic & Sportscar, MogMag, Classic Performance and Retro, Banzai, Evo, and Modern Mini. He also did a book no-one bought. His hungover fizzog also often appears on CBS’s Carfection channel enthusing about historic motoring. Le Mans winner Derek Bell once refused to get in Rich's Morgan Three Wheeler with him at the wheel. Currently amongst the detritus in his garage is a 1972 Fiat 500 Abarth, a fat BMW and a Lotus Elise. Previous machinery includes a Porsche 968, an Alfa GTV V6 and a dreadful Sinclair C5. He also owns a vintage Royal Enfield pushbike.

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