Fiat is now back in the US market with the diminutive and sassy 500, but most people buying those are probably too young to have experienced why the company had to leave in the first place. Today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe '79 Brava might just offer a taste, but only if its price proves worthy of its sticking around.
Carroll Shelby stuck around until just this year, and when still kicking, two of his favorite pastimes were pasting his name on go-faster versions of everyday cars and suing people for unlawful use of putting his name any place else. Yesterday's '86 Dodge Shelby Charger represented the former, and for 80% of you, its price proved worthy of its Shelby name.
In an interesting confluence of coincidence, Carroll Shelby helped Ford defeat Ferrari at Le Mans, and that italian company shortly thereafter sold 50% of itself to Fiat, which went on to make cars like today's Brava wagon. And, in a plot twist befitting an M. Night Shyamalan movie, this car has absolutely nothing to do with Carroll Shelby.
Whenever a car maker starts changing their model nomenclature, say switching numbers for names, you know the company is in trouble like barney rubble. Fiat originally named this model the 131 Mirafiori - the latter part of the name taken from the Turin neighborhood where the cars were built. The 131 replaced the long serving 124 sedan and wagon in Fiat's lineup, and strangely didn't follow that model's reincarnation as a testament to communism's failure years after itself being replaced.
In 1978 the Super Mirafiori arrived, with some subtle exterior, and more dramatic interior changes, and for the US, a new name - Brava. By the next year it also gained the 1,995-cc twin cam from its topless sister, the 2000 Spider. This azzuro over even more blue long roof looks to be in remarkably good shape for an old car from a company that always seemed to treat its export markets as little more than a hobby.
Inside, the vinyl seats appear to be intact - amazing in light of the fact that they were never intended for Americans' proclivity for coarse denim and being lardasses. The boxy dash, with its crazy sliding top glove box is likewise in one piece rather than exhibiting the multitude of fissures typical of dessicated Italian plastic. And if you've always harbored a fantasy about Yugo steering wheels, then you'll be in hog heaven here.
The exterior too looks like it just rolled off the assembly line. No, strike that, there appears to be too little rust for that. In fact none of the typical areas prone to oxidation - i.e. the entire car - seem so attacked. The Brava was never what you would call a beautiful car, but its square-shouldered lines and airy greenhouse have held up remarkably well.
The same can't be said for the smog-strangled two-litre twin cam which only managed 80 horsepower in California compliant form. This wagon thankfully has the long-throw 5-speed, which should help make the most of those, but you should still expect this Fiat to supply little more than leisurely motoring.
It's long been a mantra here that rare does not necessitate value, and of course there's a reason these particular cars are increasingly hard to find. Of course, that doesn't mean they are impossible to locate, and as example here's an older one - a 131S with an automatic - plus a sedan found by swimbikerun that's way cheaper. Those are just some points of reference before determining whether or not this one is worth its $5,000 asking price.
What do you think, is that $5,000 a fair price to show those punk-ass 500 drivers what a real Fiat looks like? Or, is that too much to Fix It Again, Tony?
H/T to swimbikerun for finding the gold car.
Help me out with NPOCP. Click here to send a me a fixed-price tip, and remember to include your commenter handle.