One of the things I really like about Junkyard Curbsiding is the second chances it gives me. Not so much that a particular car will be there the next time I visit (often it’s gone or there is much less of it so dallying does not pay off), but that I see cars that used to be on the street but clearly haven’t been there for some time. For example today there were a couple of 1970s Audi 100s as well as another Audi 5000 diesel, both models that have been featured in this series previously but also that I have not seen in the wild in the meantime.
As far as this Fiat 131S Mirafiori is concerned, I don’t know that I can even pinpoint the decade that I last saw one, especially the wagon, if ever. I was certainly surprised to see it today. As with many of these junkyard finds, this one appears to have sat somewhere for a long time, and now is celebrating its last hurrah, so let’s all join in the festivities.
Fiat’s 131 was made to replace the 124, and was offered in two door coupe as well as four door sedan form besides this wagon. Initially displayed at the 1974 Turin Auto Show, it remained in production to 1984, however in North America it was eventually renamed the Brava. Total production over the decade was in excess of 1.5 million, the majority of which were sold elsewhere.
Squint a little and imagine it in white and that’s what the subject looked like 45 years ago. I’d at least test drive one I think. It would look good next to the 124 Spyder in my fantasy garage. Might as well test drive both.
Double round headlights on anything European usually mean business and for 1976 the 131S wagon was equipped with a DOHC 1.8liter inline-4 (as per the brochure, never mind what Wikipedia thinks). As you can probably see it is not currently present where it should be. Don’t go anywhere.
Remarkably, not too much seems to have fallen off. Well, besides this backup light lens. But the unit itself is still in the body. And the rust monster isn’t anywhere near as bad as it could be. That sweet little aluminum badge now graces one of my shelves.
Zooming out we can see that there was only one backup light. That’s all you need. Why worry about the wiring to two of them, twice as much to fail. This one apparently carried a student first to Colorado College down in Colorado Springs and then to University of Wyoming up in Laramie so it looks to have been local.
Which is borne out here with the delightful juxtaposition of Mirafiori, the assembly plant where this was built and Boulder European Autos where it presumably was shipped to and sold from. The sun always shines in Colorado as you can clearly see on what remains of the state flag logo.
A jazz lover! But more importantly for all the Fiat-haters, here is evidence that the car was still running at two years old, as it passed whatever the 1978 Clean Air Test was. Was that when Colorado started emissions testing? Someone will know.
Yes, this tells the sad tale. This appears to be the engine that was in this car. Tony or someone took it apart and then gave up. I wonder what the problem was….in the meantime though, check out that red interior! But don’t let your eyes wander to focus on the rust that seems to be on the inside of the car at the side windows.
Hmm, I think I see the problem with the engine. Cylinder #1 seems to have an excess ventilation issue. That’s gotta be demoralizing. Presumably this was diagnosed before the engine was pulled, then it was disassembled further and then someone reached the limit of their abilities or motivation. There’s the two-barrel Weber carb in the background. I wonder if the owner pulled the head or the oil pan first after he heard the Big Noise.
We already knew it wasn’t a CA car since it had the Boulder sticker. I don’t know if they sold the wagons in CA, maybe that’s why I don’t recall seeing them. Fiats though in general, of course, in fact my California proto-online driving school (via a UHF channel high up the manual TV dial in the summer of 1985 used a 128 to demonstrate stuff) and 124 Spyders were everywhere, but the 131, and in wagon form? I’m not sure.
Radiator and other engine ancillaries are riding shotgun today. This car is equipped with a five-speed manual box, heady stuff in 1976. Especially in a wagon. The steering wheel rim is pretty fat for the day, and there’s a nice and high dashboard with all of the important stuff on display. The owner invested in a set of red faux-sheepskins to match the interior, I recall having a set of blue ones to match the blue interior of my Mazda in the ’80s.
Why the clock of all things should be absolutely front and center is baffling, but at least there’s a 120mph speedo and a tachometer with a redline that looks to go fully red at 6,500rpm but then goes even darker red at 7,500…maybe that’s the problem that’s in the back seat now!
37,853 miles? Naaahhh, more likely at least 137,583 what with the two different college stickers and perhaps a Boulder home base.
An EGR light on the left of the dash…no choke though, these were automatic in that regard.
And a Sanyo AM/FM/cassette deck, lots of vents, the obligatory smoker package as well as HVAC controls and a number of vents. And of course the 5-speed with the accordion boot and a very long lever to row around with.
Never forget. Hard to when it’s so big right in front of you.
Later in life these were redesigned a bit with a super weird glovebox involving sliding lids and stuff like that. But here it’s normal. Thank goodness dashboards don’t crack anymore these days, huh?
This car type is 131 AF and twice to boot! Yes it is, because it’s a wagon, the best kind of car. Actually I think the way to read the VIN on an older Fiat is to put the type ahead of the ID number, so the full 13-digit 1976 VIN would be 131AF24048370. I think.
In white with red interior this was pretty sharp and would have stayed looking good if it had lasted. Standard rub strips to try to fight off dents, big rubber pads on the bumpers to protect against inconsiderate parkers, and a roof rack, apparently all standard! What’s not to like.
I can even see the rear defroster. (the button was on the dash, next to the radio). In 1976 this was a decently hot ticket to roam around the Rockies with, too bad it didn’t work out long term, both for the owner as well as the builder. At least this one is getting one more day in the sun.
And of course there’s a video too, but not of the wagon. I’ve sure if would look even better going through the cones than this coupe does. The announcer and the music sure have me pumped up to check out a Fiat! Where’s my media guy’s number…