The Fiat Strada was introduced into the United States for the 1979 model year. They were an economy front-wheel drive hatchback sedan with pricing that began in the low $4,000s. They had an all-independent suspension and powered by a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine offering 70 horsepower. They rode on a 96.4-inch wheelbase and came standard with a five-speed gearbox. A three-speed automatic was available as optional equipment. They had disc brakes in the front and drums at the rear.
The two-door hatchback came in dark blue, light blue, or white. Additional colors were available on Custom models, and often included tinted glass, a carpeted cargo area, and reclining bucket seats in the front.
For 1980, the price for the Strada rose by nearly $600 for the base model. Visible changes included new wheels, color-coordinated seatbelts, and new seat fabrics. They were given a new 80-mph speedometer. Optional equipment included alloy wheels, whitewall tires, remote-control mirrors, sunroof, and a deluxe instrument panel which included a tachometer.
For 1981, the engine in the Strada (which it shared with the X1/9) received a new fuel injection system. Horsepower rose by 10 and was now rated at 75 SAE. Custom models came equipped with a rear defroster, clock, console, tinted glass, tachometer, wheel trim, rings, and open-up rear side windows. Pricing for the 1981 models ranged from $5700 - $6360.
1982 was the last year the Strada was sold in the United States. Standard equipment was similar to the 1981 model year and included power brakes, fold-down rear seats, bodyside moldings, visor-vanity mirror, and a sports steering wheel.By Daniel Vaughan | Aug 2013
Hoping to be Fiat's big break for the U.S. automotive market, the Fiat Strada was introduced to America with incredible fanfare. Strada stands for 'road' in Italian and was the replacement to the Fiat 128. Featuring more interior space, the Strada was a welcome arrival with its longer length and a four-inch wider track. An economy front-wheel drive hatchback sedan, the cost of the Strada started in the $4,000s. Introduced for the 1979 model year, the Strada came in white, dark blue or light blue. Custom models offered additional colors and included extras like tinted glass, front reclining bucket seats and a carpeted interior.
Using the same powerplant from the Fiat X1/9 the Strada used a belt-driven single overhead cam four that displaced 1,498 cc. Rated 69 hp at 5100 rpm the Strada was a worthy competitor with 77 lb-ft of torque. The Italian car came standard with a five-speed transmission and had an optional three-speed automatic from Volkswagen. Suspension was Macpherson struts up front and a horizontal leaf spring at the rear to maximize rear seat room.
The Strada was like no other vehicle at the time and was pure Italian, despite the U.S. standard five-mph bumpers. The vehicle featured a horizontally ribbed grille grilled with two large round headlamps. The original wheels were discs with four large rings and a circular theme continued as it was duplicated in the outside door handles. On the inside the steering wheel kept the traditional Italian tilt reminiscent to bus drivers, and had spokes at 5 and 7 o-clock. Rectangular binnacle housed large round tachometer and speedometer dials.
The Strada could achieve 0-60 mph in 12.5 second and reach the quarter-mile in 19.1 seconds. The cost for the Strada rose nearly $600 more for the base model in 1980 and included new seat fabric, new wheels, color-coordinated seatbelts and a new 80-mph speedometer. Optional this year was a sunroof, remote-control mirrors, alloy wheels and whitewall tires. Also optional this year was a deluxe instrument panel that included a tachometer.
The Strada engine received a new fuel injection system in 1981 and the horsepower was bumped up 10 hp and was now rated at 75 SAE. Buyers could opt for the custom model that featured a clock, console, tinted glass, rear defroster, wheel trim, open-up rear side windows and tachometer. Priced peaked between $5,000-$6,000.
Standard equipment for 1982 included power brakes, body-side moldings, fold-down rear seats, a sports steering wheels and a visor-vanity mirror. Fiat hoped to sell around 30,000 Stradas each year in the U.S. but unfortunately numbers were less. Unfortunately Fiat's reputation in the U.S. wasn't a reputable one, and coupled with high development costs around $250 million, the Strada wasn't able to succeed. Fiat withdrew the Strada from the U.S. after 1982. Sources:
By Jessica Donaldson