In the world of oddball cars, at least from an American market perspective, Italian sedans rank pretty highly. Just think – when’s the last time you saw an Alfa 164, Lancia Fulvia sedan, or series 3 Maserati Quattroporte? Or even a Fiat Brava? For those of you who don’t instantly recall what was for sale 30 years ago on your local auto row (did those even exist?), the Brava was a boxy compact, rear-drive sedan with a twincam four and advanced suspension. Sounds like fun, right? Many other automakers have successfully used this formula and variations thereof. The Brava, also knows as the 131, was marketed in the US from 1976 to 1981, after which Fiat pulled it from the US market. It was available as a 2- and 4-door sedan, as a wagon, and with automatic or manual transmissions. It replaced the 124, itself a pretty fun car for its time, especially if you happen upon one with the twincam engine.
Most importantly for your writer, the car is tied in with a childhood memory. In 1984, my family was on vacation in Egypt, near Cairo, and we were loaned a Fiat 131 sedan by a business contact. Which brings up an important point – this car is apparently still under construction in Ethiopia and Egypt, so parts availability must be decent. Anyway, moving along to our particular car… it sounds like a more fun contemporary of, say, a BMW 320i or Mk1 VW Jetta GLI. And it would probably also give its contemporary Alfa Romeo Sport Sedan (Alfetta) a run for its money. It’s listed
in Oak Run, CA, near Redding, for $2350.
The owner has added those smart-looking Maserati Biturbo wheels. You could also install most wheels from any Fiat 124 since they share the same bolt circle. Notice the car’s straight body, clean paint, and generally attractive presentation. The owner used it as a daily driver from 1991-1996, put it in long-term storage, and then pulled it out again 2 years ago, doing the work needed to make it a driver again.
Notice the cool California sunset plate, only available in the early 80s. You might know it from the opening sequence of LA Law, which shows a plate of that style on the back of a Jaguar XJ6. The body has little damage, is virtually rust-free, and no filler. However, don’t let that confuse you – the honest seller says the car is a bit tired, as you’d expect at 171K indicated miles (most likely less since the speedometer is off, due to a non-stock 4.55 diff).
Here you can see some of the tiredness in the interior. There are splits in the original upholstery, and the headliner needs attention. Maybe replace the starred windshield and do the headliner while it’s out? Other than that, it’s great to see one of these with a proper shifter (5 speeds) and a reasonably clean interior.
Everything is also present in the engine compartment. Since the engine is longitudinally mounted and the transmission/differential are not squeezed under the hood, the car should be pretty straightforward to maintain. Definitely ask if the owner has replaced the cam belt – if not, the even compression across all four cylinders would be for naught. He does have all records available, which is unusual in this price range. While the Maserati wheels are actually $650 extra (picture the car with the wheels that actually come with it!), you might be able to work a deal if it sits on the market for a while. Check out the full gallery for a better idea of a good example of this workhorse.