People really need to stop selling old Solido models for cheap. Otherwise I won’t stop buying them. Here’s another one I picked up for peanuts - this lovely Fiat Abarth 131 as run in the 1976 Rallye du Maroc (or Marocco Rally).
The original car appears to have been one of the very early Rally specials built for Group 4 racing. As all Group 4 racers were required to be road legal and registered, this one ran with the Italian licence plate N 72918 TO - with the “TO” designating its home city of Torino, or Turin.
Solido did a decent job with this one. Even if a few of the decals from the original cars are missing, the overall impression is that they got it right.
Group 4 required the car makers to produce 400 identical cars, though rumor has it that Fiat never quite made that number of “Corsa” models and fudged the numbers. As it were, a few of these were also badged as “Seat” cars for racing in Spain.
The official story was that all 400 Corsas were made. Fiberglass parts were made and fit to the bodies by Bertone. After that, the bodies went to the Fiat factory at Rivalta. 350 were (supposedly) sold by Italian Fiat dealers, 50 were given to Abarth for competition use.
The cost for a private buyer was sky high compared to the normal 131. A “Corsa” would set you back over 9 Million Lira in 1976 - versus 2.3 Million Lira for a regular 1.3 Liter sedan.
So for nearly four times the cost of the standard sedan, you got a 2 Liter engine with about 140hp propelling a weight of 980kg. The sprint from 0-100km/h took about 8.2 seconds. And the interior? Not much to shout about.
So it seems more than a little feasible that Fiat struggled to sell 350 examples of this car - even to the motor-sport mad Italians.
Some of the 50 Abarth race cars were later retro fitted with the post face lift body panels in 1978 - but no more Corsa models were produced after the initial run in 1976.
Originally Fiat had planned to make 5000 more 131s to Group 1 specification - but that never happened, due to the high cost and slow sales of the Group 4 models.