Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Car Of The Day: September 13, 2011

Today's car of the day is Matchbox's 1976 Fiat 131 Abarth Rally.

The Fiat 131, additionally called "Mirafiori", is a small/medium family car produced by the Italian car manufacturer Fiat from 1974 to 1984. It was exhibited at 1974 Turin Motor Show.

The 131 was the replacement for the successful Fiat 124, and available as a 2-door and 4-door saloon and 5-door estate. The 131 was given the Mirafiori name after the Turin suburb where the cars were produced. Naming the car 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 it set the pattern for Fiat to adopt Anglo-American style car naming practice, with carefully chosen names for subsequent new models. Initially, the 131 was offered with 1.3 L and 1.6 L single overhead camshaft engines. Revisions were made in 1978 and 1981, and all models were produced until production ceased in 1984.

In total, 1,513,800 units were produced in Italy.

For more information and pictures of the real car please visit: Fiat 131 Abarth Rally

This one almost seems more like a Muscle Machines style caricature than a replica.  The model is wider, with larger fender flares and a more aggressive front fascia.  An odd choice for Matchbox, not so much because of the subject material, but because of the timing of its release.  By the time this one hit stores the real car was no longer competitive.  The car was introduced in 1976, and this replica came out in 1982.  I will, however, give Matchbox bonus points for doing it in the correct Alitalia livery.

The Fiat 131 Abarth was a very successful rally car, winning the World Rally Championship three times: in 1977, 1978, and in 1980 with Markku Alen, Timo Salonen and Walter Röhrl at the wheel. The official "works" cars were sponsored by Italian airline Alitalia and bore their distinctive red, white and green livery. Between 1976 and 1981 the Fiat 131 won 18 WRC events.

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