1978 Fiat Abarth


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1978 Fiat Abarth Rallye 131 Supermirafiore Group 4 Specification World Championship Rally Competition Saloon
Registration no. Not registered in the UK
(previously registered in Italy: TO R92450)
Chassis no. 2045727

Fiat acquired Abarth & C in 1971 with the legendary former Ferrari Chief Engineer Aurelio Lampredi becoming sole managing director. Into 1979-1980 the Abarth headquarters at Corso March 38, Turin, accommodated some 350 staff within a factory facility which ran to 11,000 square metres. The company was active in three major areas, making the engines for the Autobianchi 70hp, producing exhaust systems for Fiats cars together with other accessories, and it also served as the 'racing department' for both Fiat and Lancia. It was from the Abarth division experimental department that all the Fiat Abarth 131 rally cars, and the sophisticated Lancia Stratos team cars all emerged.

The Fiat Abarth Rallye 131 achieved legendary success by winning the World Rally Championship no fewer than three consecutive times: in 1977, 1978, and in 1980 with drivers Markku Alen, Timo Salonen and Walter Röhrl, among many others, at the wheel. Between 1976 and 1981 the Fiat Abarth 131s won 18 World Rally Championship-qualifying rounds. In works Fiat Abarth 131s, Markku Alen won the Finnish Thousand Lakes Rally no fewer than four times, and the Portuguese Rally three times, while Walter Rohrl won the Greek Acropolis Rally, the Quebec Criterium Molson, the Monte Carlo, Portugal, Codasur and San Remo Rallies.

Fulvio Bacchelli won the South Pacific Rally in a Fiat Abarth 131, Timo Salonen added a Criterium Molson du Quebec, Jean-Claude Andruet another San Remo Rally, Bernard Darniche two editions of the Tour de Corse, Antonio Zanini the Rajd Polski, and that supremely-talented lady driver Michele Mouton the 1978 Tour
de France Automobile. The basic Fiat 131 Mirafiori was launched as a small-to-medium family saloon produced from 1974 to 1984.

It had been launched at the 1974 Turin Salone dell'Automobile exhibition and was the replacement for the successful Fiat 124. It was also available as a two-door and four-door saloon or a five-door estate. The 131 was given the Mirafiori name after the Turin suburb in which the cars were produced. Naming the model in this way marked a break with the former Fiat convention,
established in the 1960s, of naming their mainstream models only with a three-digit number, and this practice set the pattern for Fiat to name its car models thereafter.

Initially, the 131 was offered with 1.3-litre and 1.6-litre overheadvalve 4-cylinder power units. When new twin-overhead camshaft heads were introduced in 1978 the relevant model became known as the 131 Supermirafiore and in June 1981 a new sport version, the Volumetrico Abarth, was introduced to some markets, with a supercharged version of the by that time familiar 2-litre twin-cam engine.

The Rally-developed supercharged Abarth variant was also known as the 2000 TC Compressore, only some 200 being produced as a homologation special. Major updates to the mainstream models were made in 1978 and 1981, and production finally ceased in 1984 by which time a total 1,513,800 units had been produced in Fiat's Italian plants. This particular rally version features the 16-valve belt-driven twincam power unit with fuel injection and appears in what is believed to be Group 4 rally specification, with very lightweight aluminium and
glassfibre body paneling, and an extensively rally-adapted, stripped and stark cabin interior with full roll-over cage and vinyl-covered sponge block rear stowage for crash helmets etc when not being worn on competitive stage sections. Preserved within the extensive documentation file associated with this genuinely Group 4-specification Fiat Abarth Rallye 131 is a registration document dated April 5, 1978, Turin, registered to 'SpA Fiat SAEASA'. The file also contains taxation documents for the car valid to December 1988, then 1989 and 1990.

There is also an ownership-transfer document dated February 25, 1983, recording the car's acquisition by Vittorio Carlino of Sassari. The car appears to be listed within this documentation file as having been the machine driven by none other than Michele Mouton into 7th place in the 1980 Monte Carlo Rally, headed only by such male stars as winner Walter Rohrl in the sister works-team Fiat 131 Abarth – by Bernard Darniche in second place with the Lancia Stratos HF – Bjorn Waldegard third in another Fiat 131 Abarth, Anders Kullang's Opel
Aascona 400, Per Eklund's Volkswagen Golf GTI and Attilio Bettega's Fiat Ritmo. Her car was entered in that Rally by Ecurie Calberson and carried competition number '12'.

We understand that as offered here the engine shows signs of being seized and will definitely require a full strip and rebuild before it can possibly be returned to running order. The clutch system is operating and all gears can be selected, while the brakes are binding but operational. Such condition is regrettable but not unexpected in any car that has been on static museum display for many years after what was plainly a very hard and demanding operating life. It is a correct, full 16-valve dry-sump works-type Rally engine with Kugelfischer fuel injection. The car interior features the works-style
dash array and leading British Abarth specialist Tony Castle-Miller, upon inspecting the car for the first time, declared "It's in great condition for a rally car even if the engine is seized!". Various spares are also available with this Lot, including glassfibre front wing and bonnet panels.

Here is a car which will never lose the extra cachet of having been the long-term Collezione Maranello Rosso example of its charismatic World Rally Championship-winning type. It is plainly in need of a sympathetic, understanding and technically capable new home in which it can be restored once again to competitive order. In the right hands it could become a front-running Historic Rally car that would plainly turn heads and accumulate trophies wherever in the world it might be campaigned.

Please note this vehicle is subject to import tax should it remain in the EU.