Saturday, November 21, 2015

Forza Beige: 1978 FIAT 131 Mirafiori Wagon

When I started this post I was looking for a chrome bumper 124 Spider to contrast with the (disappointingly hideous) Fiata and I stumbled upon this:  Behold, the beige unicorn!  No way I could not post this.  I can't remember the last time I saw a 131, let alone a wagon.  I'm at a loss for words.  Find this 1978 FIAT 131 Mirafiori Wagon for sale in Santa Anna, CA for $6,000 via craigslist.

The 131 was introduced by FIAT at the 1974 Turin Motor Show as the replacement for the 124 series cars.  The 131 came in two and four door sedans and a wagon.  It was given the nickname "Mirafiori" after the factory it was built at in a suburb of Turin.  The 131 was sold as the 131 in the U.S. from 1975 - 1978 and was restyled for 1979 and renamed the Brava.  The Brava was sold up until FIAT limped away from the US market in 1981 with its tail between its legs.  Production of the 131 ended for good in 1984.

The first series U.S. 131's were powered by a 1.8 liter single overhead cam 4 pot engine wheezing out 86 hp and driving the rear wheels.  Our ad car is equipped with the GM-sourced 3 speed auto-tragic unfortunately.  Seems like there is an unwritten rule in the universe that old, oddball survivors can only come with automatics.  But hey, the interior looks to be in good shape and the ad says the car only has 70K miles on it.  Would be nice to have a couple more interior shots thought, so one could see if the owner's fox terrier has eaten the back seat.

The ad claims that this is the only 131 wagon in all of California.  Not sure how you back up that claim, but it's probably accurate.  I certainly can't remember the last time I've seen one, even at Concorso Italiano.  The ad mentions a rebuilt carburetor, new starter, new battery, new wheels and tires, new stereo with some sort of blue teeth, new rack and pinion, new fuel pump, new wire (I'm assuming plug wires, or maybe just wires in general?).  Typical stuff to keep a 37 year old Tony alive.

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Gianni is DT's Pacific Northwest correspondent.  He's been an Italian car aficionado since his older brother bought a new FIAT 124 Spider in 1973.


  1. Your local Fiat Chrysler dealership will work on these, right guys?

  2. Gianni, I liked the Fiata. just out of curiosity: in your opinion, what went wrong with it?

    1. The proportions are wrong, the original wasn't a long hood, short trunk car like the Miata.



      The attempt to recreate the lines of the trunk make it way to chunky on the Fiata. The front looks like they bulked up the nose to meet Euro ped impact standards and then added a grill that looks somewhat like the original, but then they added some side grills and a bottom grill. On a non-black car, there is too much black grill. It at least needs some chrome or something to break it up.


      The more I look at it, the more it looks like an odd looking NB Miata.

      I think maybe Sniff Petrol was onto something here:


  3. Much want.

    Already visions of the 2 litre twin cam and transmission swap. A nice Nardi steering wheel. Maybe some more supportive front seats trimmed in the same brown vinyl.

  4. The Italian cars of the 70/80/s were a pleasantly crisply styled and better driving alternative to morbid drudgery and kitschy styling, especially from Japan, The tu-tone is a matter of preference, but it looks to be well executed and highlights the clean 131 lines.

    Agreed with BTW, 5spd., DOHC with dual Weber side drafts, sitting maybe 2" lower and a lovely sounding exhaust. Amazing really that it is only $6K ask. The Fiats I have owned were certainly no more trouble than anything not from Japan. Few other cars endured getting the shit revved out of them, every shift, every drive better than Fiat.


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