You Know What Fiat Stands For! 1980 Fiat Brava

Fix It Again, Tony! For many, it may be impossible not to hear that when they think of Fiat. In fact, I’m fairly certain someone is cursing me right now for bringing it up! By the time Fiat stopped selling cars in the United States in 1983, the company had developed a reputation for unreliable cars that suffered from terminal rust issues. In fact, total sales in 1982 was a mere 14,113 in total. The most common US Fiat of this time period is likely the 124 Spider, and considering sales were already on a rapid decline by 1980, one can assume a two-door Brava sedan is something of a rarity. Thanks to SubGothius for sending us the link! Find it here on craigslist in California with an asking price of $2,900.

I have owned two Fiat 124 Spiders, and seen only a handful in person. If 124s are any gauge for the quality of Fiats in the mid-1970s and early 1980s, then it is a miracle this Brava (AKA Fiat 131) is as nice as it is. Though it can be tough to see in this photo, in the others it is clear the seats will need recovered. The dash will also likely need to be repaired. This Fiat has covered 105,000 miles, possibly more than any Fiat ever recorded (I’m only kidding!). This is also claimed to be a one-owner vehicle, though the ad does not state whether the seller is the original owner.

Here’s where things get really cool, or really scary, depending on how you feel about these cars. This Brava is equipped with a fuel-injected 1.8 liter inline four-cylinder engine, hooked up to a five-speed manual. Many US spec Bravas were equipped with a three speed GM automatic transmission, and two more doors. The fuel-injection is interesting because many budget, foreign cars of this time-period were still operating on carburetors. Many domestic cars were too! There is no mention of the condition of this Fiat’s engine, only that it will need a battery and an oil change and “possibly other mechanical issues that are minor.” So, take that as you will.

I have never seen a Fiat Brava in person, and I have to admit I quite like this two-door model. Though it will certainly need some work, as far as Fiats of this era go this car is totally complete and in what looks to be excellent condition. With a little bit of work, this could be a super cool car that is unlikely to find its duplicate at any local car event. Would you tackle it? Or leave it to Tony?

Fast Finds


  1. KevinR

    2 doors, rear wheel drive, manual transmission and Italian! What’s not to love?

    I see lots of needs here; even so, it’s a good thing this car is located on the other side of the country from me. At that price, it would be hard to resist if it was closer.

    Key for anything like this is to have (or be) a good independent mechanic who understands machinery and isn’t intimidated by reputation. As long as it is truly rust free, the rest of the stuff can be handled.

    • jdjonesdr

      Same here kevin, if it were east coast, we’d be fightin’ over it. I always loved this little cars and they ran like a bat outta hell..

  2. Will

    Here’s the saved ad with all the images and description

  3. Steve65

    Even if I was in the market for this car, I make it a personal rule not to do business with self-entitled douchbags…

  4. Neal

    I always liked the 128’s.
    My aunt and uncle were pioneers with one in the 70’s in Philly.

  5. Mark

    Is it a 1.8 or a 2.0 liter as stated on trunk?

    • SubGothius

      Any mid-’78-onward US Brava has a 2-liter, and Bosch L-jet fuel injection was offered for ’80 (as seen here) and became standard in ’81. These FI 2-liters are absolutely the ones to get for best performance and reliability, eliminating all the troublesome Rube Goldberg smog gear of earlier carb’d models, so by this time they met US emissions with FI, cat, and reduced compression alone.

  6. Mark

    Also has 100,500 miles , not 105,000 just saying

  7. Wolfgang Gullich

    I do know what FIAT stands for: Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino


    Like 1
  8. That Guy

    Andrew, I have a 124 Spider with 380,000 miles on it, according to the notebook which I found in the glovebox after I got it home. Of course everything has been rebuilt a couple of times.

    This Brava looks like a pretty good car for the money. I had one of these too, about 30 years ago. Rusty as hell and couldn’t pass smog. I paid $50 for it, drove it until.the registration expired, then sold it for $125 as a parts car. 😄😄

  9. ron

    fling it around turns.

  10. Zoli

    Poor reputation caused (to a large extent) by poor, mechanics.

  11. Howard A Member

    Apparently, “Brava” is the female equivalent to “Bravo”, meaning, well done,,,IDK, 5 million Europeans can’t be wrong, I’m sure it’s a good car, as good as anything else in it’s class. I just don’t have any experience owning one ( remember, it was one of the cars forbidden in my old man’s driveway) and the experiences with other peoples Fiats were all bad,,,,really bad, to the point, it was one of the few cars I swore I’d never own. For scooting around European roads and traffic circles, it was fine, I-40 across the desert at 80 mph,,,not so much.

    Like 1
  12. Ben T. Spanner

    Why do Fiats have heated rear windows? To keep your hands warm when you push them. I bought a brand new 124 Coupe and had no problems until the drive home from the dealership. The volt meter dropped to zero. I called the competing Fiat dealership, as mine was closed for the day. ( I knew the owners of both.) He said the big orange wire had fallen off the fuse box. He was right.

    It was one of my favorite cars and had just small issues. I sold it to someone who just had to have it. He blew it up it two weeks.

    I traded a dead VW to the guy with the orange wire knowledge for a running Fiat 850. My wife adopted it and dragged raced city busses. Again.only small problems, and someone had to have it. He parked on the street and in 2 or 3 weeks it was sideswiped and totalled. I had good luck with Fiats, but not the next owners.

    • angliagt

      Remind me not to buy a used Fiat from you.

  13. Rabbit

    All kidding aside, these were a blast to drive. I got to bring one from Lancaster, PA back to Buffalo back around ’84, then kept it for a few days before taking it back to work. Fix It Alla Time.

  14. Zoli

    Fire Incompetent Auto Technician. Then you’ll have a good car. If these Fiats run great by the millions, outside of North America, than the problem must lie somewhere else.

  15. Arthur Brown

    No, its “Fix It Alla Time”.

    Like 1
    • Bob B620

      Got that right.

  16. graham line

    Drove a Brava in the mid-70s when I was contemplating getting out of a nicely tweaked 124 Sport Coupe. No comparison. Notice that the interior doesn’t stand up to the Bay Area climate any better than my Sport’s did to Idaho’s. But the guy is wrong about cruising at 80. The faster you go, the happier the engine is. Decent enough cars for the era let down by a poor service network.
    By 1980 they were badly smogged-down. You’ll want a new timing belt before starting this one up.

  17. DonC

    I’ve commented before on owning a 1982 Fiat 2000 spider. Bought it in 1985 and just sold it to an Australian collector last year. So….31 years of driving and loving “Farina”. These are such easy cars to work on and that’s what I did. Parts are easy to get too. If you don’t do your own work, then yeah, find yourself a competent mechanic who knows Italian cars and Bosch electrical systems. Clearly, I loved the car and never had major issues or wouldn’t have owned it so long.

  18. Lee Hartman

    I haven’t owned a Fiat since the eighties, I’d love to find one now for the money I paid for them back then! I loved every one I ever owned, especially the last one, a little 128 hatchback. Made a good bit of money back then fixing Fiats for those that weren’t diligent about replacing their timing belts.

  19. Martin Horrocks

    Nothing complicated if you do need to fix it.

    This 2 door shell is worth the price alone to build into an Abarth Stradale replica. The mechanicals are already mainly there in this car, and most replicas retain standard suspension, rather tan the Abarth irs.

    Then you have a grown up Escort Mk 2.

  20. Joe

    Let’s all eat a pizza, and forget about it.

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