Il Coniglio – 1981 Fiat Strada

I’ve liked these since they were new. And I think it’s because the Fiat Strada looked like it was the Italian interpretation of the Rabbit/Golf I (a car I grew up with). Which is ironic, considering the Rabbit was designed by an Italian. That said, at this point the main appeal of this car for me is its oddball style and rarity. Unfortunately, they’re only getting rarer – when’s the last time you saw one on the road? Built on the structure and floorpan of the 128, which it was meant to succeed, it’s not a terribly powerful car, so to save myself a lot of trouble, I’d rather go for an early 128 fitted with a 1500 engine that’s been de-smogged. But if you’re outside one of the smog-nazi states, you can use the Euro-market cars as a reference for what you can do. Find our rare little gem for $3500 in Alameda, CA.

1981 Fiat Strada left front

By now, you’ve no doubt noticed the hideous US-market bumpers. Well, you’re in luck – from anecdotal evidence, I understand they’re easily replaced with the European market bumpers. And those are made of plastic, so should be one of the few surviving parts left from any rust-prone Ritmo. The stance is also a little funny, which is probably due to the different size wheels mounted on the car. A little work on the stance, along with some better (OEM or aftermarket) wheels, and you might do a lot for the look of the car.

1981 Fiat Strada rear

This is probably the most famous Fiat Strada on the interweb – it was featured on Jalopnik last June, after being featured once before while it was still beige. The seller definitely made a wise choice with the color, although it’s a shame to lose the 1980s paint job with its goofy wide pinstripe.

1981 Fiat Strada nose

Here you can see the other unattractive bumper/grille. Since the grille and badge don’t appear to be perfectly fitted anyway, you won’t be losing anything by converting to the Euro-market parts. This car specifically has had a lot of work done: the engine was rebuilt in 2006, the 5-speed transmission in 2008, recent brakes, and body redone last year. It would be interesting to find out why the owner is selling – is it possible this early-smog car just never ran quite right?

1981 Fiat Strada four square

If you’re looking for an unusual runabout, this might be the ticket! After all, what other square car has round door handles?

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