1981 Fiat Strada

Illustration for article titled 1981 Fiat Strada

Welcome to Down On The Street, where we admire old vehicles found on the streets of the Island That Rust Forgot: Alameda, California. I think I've seen a total of two Stradas during the last 20 years, both in Alameda.

Illustration for article titled 1981 Fiat Strada

Hold on— it turns out I've seen a total of one Strada, because it turns out this is the beige Strada we saw two years ago, with a lot of bodywork and a new paint job. Looks good, and it will look even better when it gets a matched set of wheels.

Illustration for article titled 1981 Fiat Strada

From the rear, it's pretty easy to mistake a Strada for an Omni, Rabbit, or other Late Malaise hatchback, but there's no way to confuse the front view with anything else. The Strada— known to the rest of the world as the Ritmo— had Fiat 128 running gear and was only available for a few years in North America. Check in later for an Alameda DOTS car you haven't seen before.

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Its really kind of sad that I was born when I was. I'll never know the joys of spotting a funky foreign car. I envy those who could walk down the street in the 50s/60s/70s and amid the vast Detroit iron see the occasional foreign oddity-Daily driven English sports cars, small, quirky Japanese cars, German cars with REAL style, and anything from Italy. I'm stuck seeing acres of Japanese and American Beige, the ubiquitous German luxury sedans, and the occasional exotic car. Nothing can replicate what it must have felt like for a car guy to be able to spot a little BMW 2002, Triumph TR3, Mercedes 190SL, Datsun Convertible, or Alfa Romeo 2000.

As a child of the 90s, cars like this Fiat Strada were long gone from East coast roads-either rusted into oblivion or locked away in garages. A couple of weeks ago I spotted a red Alfa Romeo Duetto driving through my town. Even though it was dwarfed in both size and engine output by the cars around it, 40 years on, it was still quite a sight to see.