In 1976 Fiat
decided to produce a works supported rally car out of the 131 Mirafiori, which at that
point was their second best selling car, internationally, on record. The platform chosen
was the 2-litre twin cam-engined 131 Sport 2000 TC model .The 131's mass production would
offer Fiat huge potential for marketing if a successful program could be put together. The
131 had a very ridged body shell which was to provide a solid platform for both Group 1
and Group 4 modification. The result was the Fiat Abarth 131 Rally.
The production car had a top speed of 118 mph, and produced 140 bhp at 6400
rpm, 0-100km takes 8.2 seconds. Works cars with fuel injection boasted 215bhp at 7000 rpm.
The 131 Abarth proved to be the success that Fiat had hoped for. By the time it was
retired it had chalked up three World Rally Championships 1977, 1978, 1980, and numerous
rally victories. Its drivers were rewarded with World Rally Driver's Campionships in 1978
and again in 1980. With the benefit of hindsight, the decision by Fiat to select a popular
model for the basis of its rally programme must be seen as the correct one, even though it
was a policy that would lead to the eventual demise of the Lancia Stratos.
It is still possible to see these cars at club racing in Europe. This car is
a sought after classic with demand far exceeding supply.