Fiat 131 Group 4 photo

1979 Abarth 131 Group 4

Aurelio Lampredi began working at Ferrari in 1946 for a brief period of time, returning at the beginning of 1948 where he designed 3.3-, 4.1- and 4.5-liter displacement V12 engines which powered Ferrari's formula 1 effort during the 1950s. His work at Ferrari ended in 1944 when Ferrari acquired Lancia's racing team which included Vittorio Jano, formerly of Alfa Romeo. From there, Lampredi went to Fiat where he oversaw the company's engine designs until 1977. His designs at Fiat included the Fiat Twin-Cam and SOHC engines, which were used for most Fiat and Lancia automobiles for over three decades. When Fiat acquired Abarth & Company in 1971, he was made manager of Fiat's Abarth factory racing group from 1973 through 1982.

The Abarth factory facility accommodated around 350 staff in the 11,000 square meter space and primarily made engines for the Autobianchi 70 hp, exhaust systems for Fiat cars and other accessories, and was the 'racing department' for Fiat and Lancia. From here, the experimental department at Abarth created the Fiat Abarth 131 rally cars, along with the Lancia Stratos team cars.

The Abarth 131 Rally cars grew from humble beginnings; the Fiat 131 was a small-to-medium family saloon produced from 1974 to 1984. Introduced at the 1974 Turin Salone dell'Automoible exhibition, the Fiat 131 was the successor for the popular Fiat 124. It was offered as a two-door and four-door saloon and a 5-door estate. It was also known and marketed as the Fiat Mirafiori, after the Turin suburb where the cars were manufactured. The engines were initially 1.3- and 1.6-liter overhead valves units, later growing in size and power when the new twin-overhead camshaft heads were introduced in 1978. Some markets received the new sport version, the Volumetrico Abarth, introduced in June of 1981, with a supercharged version of the 2-liter twin-cam engine.

There were 400 examples of the Fiat 131 Abarth Rally created for homologation purposes. Built in 1976, they were a joint effort between Fiat, Abarth, and Bertone. Bertone received bodyshells from the production line and applied plastic mudguards, a plastic hood and bootlid, and modified the structure to accommodate the rear independent suspension. The dual overhead cam, four-valve per cylinder engine was a derivation of the standard twin-cam inline-four. It was given double-downdraught 34 ADF Weber carburetors and offered nearly 140 horsepower at 6400 RPM and 127 lb-ft of torque. This is where the tuning stopped, as the brake system was from the small Fiat 127 and the gearbox was from the streetcars without synchromesh.

The competition cars had Kugelfischer mechanical fuel injection, dry-sump lubrication, and produced 237 horsepower.

200 examples of the Rally-developed supercharged Abarth variants, also known as the 2000 TC Compressore, were built as a homologation special and introduced in June of 1981. They had a 16-valve belt-driven twin-cam power unit with fuel injection and lightweight aluminum and fiberglass body paneling. The interiors were devoid of non-essential materials and fitted with a full roll-over cage and vinyl-covered sponge block rear stowage for crash helmets when not in use.

The Fiat Abarth Rallye 131 enjoyed a very successful and competitive racing career, winning the World Rally Championship no fewer than three consecutive times: in 1977, 1978, and in 1980 with drivers Markku Alen, Timo Salonen and Walter Röhrl, among many others. The Fiat Abarth 131s won 18 World Rally Championship-qualifying rounds between 1976 and 1981. Markku Alen driving a works Fiat Abarth 131 won the Finnish Thousand Lakes Rally on four occasions, and the Portuguese Rally three times. Walter Rohl won the Greek Acropolis Rally, the Quebec Criterium Molson, the Monte Carlo, Portugal, Codasur and San Remo Rallies. Also in Fiat Abarth 131, Fulvio Bacchelli won the South Pacific Rally, Timo Salonen won the Criterium Molson du Quebec, Jean-Claude Andruet another San Remo Rally, Bernard Darniche two editions of the Tour de Corse, Antonio Zanini the Rajd Polski, and Michele Mouton the 1978 Tour de France Automobile.

by Daniel Vaughan | Apr 2020

Related Reading : Fiat 131 History

The Fiat 131, introduced at the 1974 Turin Motor Show, was produced from 1974 to 1984. It was a replacement for the Fiat 124 and was available as a two-door and four-door saloon and 5-door estate. Initially, the 131 was powered by 1.3 L and 1.6 L single overhead camshaft engines. In 1978 and 1981, revisions were made. In total, 1,513,800 units were produced in Italy. The Fiat 131 featured a steel....
Continue Reading >>

1979 Vehicle Profiles

1979 Abarth 131 Group 4 vehicle information

2-Door Sedan

Corporate realignment within the Fiat/Lancia/Ferrari group reassigned the responsibility of defending Lancia's trio of World Rally Championships to Fiat who chose the 131 -- Brava in America -- to defend. The 131 became the heir to Lancia's world tit....[continue reading]

2-Door Sedan

Recent Vehicle Additions

Performance and Specification Comparison

Price Comparison

1979 131 Group 4
1979 Abarth 131 Group 4 Price Range: $4,400 - $5,050

Other 1979 Fiat Models
$5,290 - $5,790


98.00 in.
4 cyl., 107.16 CID., 86.00hp
$3,958 - $3,958
98.00 in.
4 cyl., 107.00 CID., 86.00hp
$4,400 - $4,950
98.00 in.
4 cyl., 107.00 CID., 86.00hp
$4,400 - $5,050
98.00 in.
4 cyl., 121.74 CID., 86.00hp
$5,290 - $5,790
98.00 in.
$4,400 - $5,050
98.00 in.
4 cyl., 121.74 CID., 102.00hp
$8,190 - $8,390

Industry Production

1984Chevrolet (1,655,151)Renault (1,429,138)Ford (1,180,708)
1983Renault (1,491,853)Chevrolet (1,175,200)Toyota (1,068,321)979,390
1982Renault (1,491,853)Chevrolet (1,297,357)Toyota (1,068,321)927,370
1981Chevrolet (1,673,093)Renault (1,295,713)Toyota (1,068,321)995,455
1980Chevrolet (2,288,745)Renault (1,492,339)Ford (1,162,275)995,455
1979Chevrolet (2,284,749)Ford (1,835,937)Renault (1,405,330)60,435
1978Chevrolet (2,375,436)Ford (1,923,655)Renault (1,240,941)60,435
1977Chevrolet (2,543,153)Toyota (1,884,260)Ford (1,840,427)63,479
1976Chevrolet (2,103,862)Toyota (1,884,260)Ford (1,861,537)1,098,182
1975Chevrolet (1,755,773)Toyota (1,714,836)Ford (1,569,608)45,469
1974Chevrolet (2,333,839)Ford (2,179,791)Renault (1,355,799)1,205,754

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