Rare Sight: 1972 Fiat 130 Coupe Survivor

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With fewer than 5,000 made and none of them ever sold in the U.S., a Fiat 130 coupe is an incredibly rare find in the U.S. These gorgeous coupes were styled by Pininfarina and equipped with engines designed by a former Ferrari employee, and videos of the 130 doing hard acceleration runs will be literal music to your ears. This example has been in the states for a while, with the seller buying it from the previous owner in Miami in 2015. While it may be hard to find parts for, this is the kind of car that makes the hunt worthwhile. Find it here on eBay with no bids and a Buy-It-Now of $29,500. Thanks to Barn Finds reader araknid78 for the find. 

The interior features cloth buckets and bright blue carpeting, along with prodigious amounts of woodgrain-style trim. All of it appears to be in fine shape, which is good news considering you don’t want to begin the ownership honeymoon trying to track down a new console or headrest. The 130 was meant to compete with the likes of the graceful BMW E9 coupe, and the similar two-door offering in the Mercedes W123 lineup. Whether this pretty Fiat ever did much to threaten the sales success of those models in Europe is unknown, but on paper, it certainly seems like a worthy competitor.

The styling is not for everyone, as it is extremely squared off. The looks could be considered stodgy, but I actually like it because it’s so rigid and official looking – like it could easily be pressed into service as a vehicle for a government agent, like an Italian Crown Vic. I’d love to know the story behind how it got here, because it’s not the first car you think of importing if you’ve got an itch to scratch where a gray market car is the only answer. The Fiat 130 is several pages into a long list of desirable forbidden fruit doesn’t look it was cut out from a brick. But when you look at the pedigree and the performance, the question becomes: why isn’t it near the top?

The seller highlights the originality on display with this 130, which retains its original tool kit and warning triangle, hallmarks of a genuine European-market model. The fact that the triangle cases isn’t smashed to bits is a testament to previous careful owners, as those things are made of extremely brittle plastic (ask me how I know.) The 130 isn’t for everyone, but it’s definitely well worth considering if a genuine Ferrari or Maserati from the same era is out of reach – plus, I’d be willing to bet the Fiat is even rarer than models from those brands here on U.S. soil.

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Comments

  1. alphasudMember

    I think colors help to compliment the angular body. I saw another in a medium blue metallic that looked nice. I went to the listing for more pictures. How can you properly represent the car by not giving the buyer a 360 view or any engine bay shots. Good luck selling!

    Like 4
    • RNR

      I was thinking the same thing, but the ebay listing has a YouTube link to a video made with “Miami Vice” wannabe production values!

      Like 2
  2. HoA Howard AMember

    I’m not sure why I should have to redeem myself on the Fiat issue, and when I said better Fiats were made, here’s a great example right here. Never saw one, and what looks like a magnificent car. We never saw this stuff, and all we had to go on was someones lousy luck with an 850, for whatever reason.
    So, can a Fiat expert ( looking Kevins way) tell me if this was the same motor as in the Fiat Dino, which I was very impressed with. Regardless, an exhilarating car to drive, I bet. Almost as nice as a Lotus,,,kidding,,, peace.

    Like 6
    • alphasudMember

      Lampredi designed the V6 in this one. It does seem odd they designed their own engine rather than to borrow the Ferrari engine. I imagine it was due to cost. I guess the same could be said for the Daimler SP250 which had its own little hemi when it could have used the aluminum Buick engine from the rover group.

      Like 4
    • Klaus Reichardt

      It is not the same motor as the one for the Dino but a derivative of it.
      I have a 130 Fiat Berlina, 4 door. These are awesome cars on both coupe and sedan. Engine is super responsive and pulls great, even though it is a heavy car. Plus super few around here as well as Europe. His price is a bit steep unless the car is super sorted. They go for around $12-21K depending on quality in Europe.

      Like 0
  3. Steve R

    I’d never seen nor heard this model until a few dats ago until I saw an episode of a British TV show restore one. It’s a very beautiful car, seems more like something Alpha Romeo would have built. I’m sure it will find a good home and life a life if leisure.

    Steve R

    Like 1
  4. Bradshaw from Primer

    the Daimiler was sold in 1959 to the early 60’s….rover did not get the 215 buick engine until much later…..1968

    Like 3
    • alphasudMember

      I stand corrected. The correct time line matters. I may be wrong but the Daimler engine was a real jewel and I think it only loved in that model.

      Like 2
      • RayT

        Pretty sure it was also used in a (badge-engineered) Daimler variant of the 3.8 Jaguar sedan.

        Like 3
  5. OIL SLICK

    Ad says it runs on E85. Why make a video with no sound of the car????

    Like 1
    • PatrickM

      Why put a car for ale on a “car guy” website and not give them any pics of the engine bay, underside or inside the trunk?? One of my biggest pet peeves. Oh, and then, I saw the bid and asking price. Whoa, Hoss!! A Fiat? Not in this boy’s neighborhood.

      Like 1
  6. KEVIN L HARPER

    Hey Howard
    Different engines with different characters. The dino engine is closer to a race engine and the engine in the 130 was more of a cruiser. Big difference is that the 130 was belt drive and SOHC, and the dino was chain drive with DOHC. Both engines do well for their suited cars.
    I don’t know why Fiat didn’t market their big cars here as I think they made a lot more sense for the average American than the small engine cars. Italian management decisions sometimes escape me.
    These were not big sellers for Fiat but I think they would have done ok here.
    The problem with them is that they are not that fun to drive. The 124 coupe was a much better car for the enthusiast. I even find the 2300s coupe which this car replaced to be a better driver, but I have only ever driven two 130 coupes and one was an automatic which really sucked the fun out of the car, so my experience is limited.

    Like 4
  7. SubGothius

    This understated yet extremely handsome and impeccably tasteful styling — more like a Zegna suit than a rakish Armani or a flashy Versace — is a product of its time, not just in the sense that straight lines and razor-sharp edges dominated the industry in this era, but also that union strikes and Red Brigade demonstrations were rife across Italy at that time.

    In that time and place, most with the means to buy high-end cars also usually didn’t want to advertise that fact, lest they attract violence or vandalism, so those who didn’t opt for more pedestrian transportation at least preferred their high performance luxury cars to have understated styling that didn’t draw attention, and better yet if it was from a pedestrian marque like Fiat. They got their money’s worth and satisfaction from the high level of equipment and quality of build, materials, and engineering. In any other era, a car of this high standard probably would have been marketed as a Lancia, if not for the latter’s long-standing association with FWD by then.

    My favorite subtle detail about this design isn’t depicted in the ad, but you can find photos of other 130 coupes that show it off well, esp. from a high front quarter view. The cove that runs along the body just just below the beltline tapers to a point like a bayonet’s fuller groove in the front fender, ending right where the hood takes a slight break down towards the nose, so there’s a continuous line running along the bottom of that cove, up over the fender, across the hood, back over the other fender, and back down along the cove on the other side of the car.

    Like 1
  8. JohnfromSC

    From the rear it looks strikingly similar to the Peugeot 604 of the same era, but not that surprising as Pinanfarina also designed that body.

    Like 2
    • Concinnity

      Except that the Peugeots 504 & 604 were designed by Aldo Brovarone, (later to design the 130 Coupe’s replacement, the Lancia Gamma Coupe), and the 130 Coupe was designed by Paolo Martin, (Pininfarina Modulo, RR Camargue and Peugeot 104). But you are right, they were both working for Pininfarina.

      Like 0
  9. jerry z

    If they did sell this car in the US, how long would it last? My cousin have a couple of 128’s back in the early 80’s and boy did they rust out! Car ran great but would get lighter by the day.

    Like 0
  10. Katahdin

    BIN price is $35,000

    Like 0
  11. John

    A beautiful car, no doubt. But, as I remember, it was plagued with the same metallurgical issues that came as standard equipment on Italian cars of the era. The metal was “tinny”. Even in this car, which I only once saw in a car park, the close in look clearly mimicked other Fiat derivatives (UGO??) of the day. Beautiful cars to be enjoyed today, because they will be gone tomorrow.

    Like 0
  12. alfaguy

    Am I the only one noticed the listing says fuel is E85?

    Is that a typo, or is it really set up to run on E85. If the latter, I’d be kinda concerned about that.

    Like 0
  13. Rex Rice

    Years ago, a friend worked for a BMC dealer and brought a Daimler V-8 by my house for a test drive. Fun car but a tacky interior. The fiberglass was already starting to show cracks. I haven’t seem one since.

    Like 0
  14. L'Alfaccionado

    Closest FIAT ever came to a 1969 Dodge Charger.

    Like 0
  15. Martin Horrocks

    In general, these didn´t rust so badly (most cars of the era rusted, not just Italian cars), but they had careful owners and less use than most cars. Good survivors invariably have had an easy life as many have been parted out over the years (which is your source for spares)

    @Kevin L Harper gives a good explanation of why two different V6 enginnes, but you often see the 130 wrongly advertsied as having the “Dino” engine.

    At this time, Fiat had a very wide range of class leading cars, (127/128/124/ 130) but were already struggling to sell cars in the luxury bracket outside Italy.

    This looks a nice car, but you could have a better one imported from EU in your garage with all shipping and taxes paid for less than $20K. Manuals are harder to find, but the unfortunate truth is that most people don´t want to own a Fiat 130 Coupé.

    Like 1
    • Concinnity

      In my experience these rust less than BMW E9s, E3s and E21s, or VW Kharman-Ghias. They are coachbuilt 1970s Euro cars but the really bad ones are gone by now, the ones left have been looked after properly.

      Like 0
  16. Mike

    This is like a baby brother to the De Tomaso longchamp.

    Like 1
  17. Willowen

    “But the unfortunate truth is that most people don´t want to own a Fiat 130 Coupé.”

    Martin, you’re right about that, especially as applies to this market. Even a hard-top lover such as I would hold out for four doors – in this case a berlina rather than a coupé. And not for the looks, but simply for practicality’s sake. I do not buy cars to show off in, but to use. I do think this is a very pretty car, and if it were on the grounds at one of our Best of France & Italy shows I’d take some photos, but it stirs no desire for ownership.

    Like 0
    • Martin Horrocks

      You wouldn´t be alone Will!.

      Surviving 130 Berlinas tend to be very well-preserved and are in the
      6-10000€ range. Again, most or automatics, but here in Spain many were specified with manual box.

      They had a good reputation in the day compared even to MB and BMW, not to mention with Mafia bosses…

      Like 0
      • Willowen

        Golly, I’d happily pay that. I’ve even got a shop nearby capable of working on them … 1972 appears to be the cutoff date for bringing a non-smog-compliant car into California, so just supposing I wanted to look for one … Odd, what an old man chooses for his temptations! Or perhaps I should say “realistic”!

        Like 0
  18. Maestro1

    It’s sophisticated, stunning, elegant, and great design. I have no room………

    Like 2
  19. Joe Elliott

    Not only is it a 130 coupe in the USA, but with the relatively rare manual transmission!

    And no, the engine is completely unrelated to the Dino engine; this is a completely ‘normal’ SOHC V6 like you might expect in such a car, with various design details shared with Lampredi’s better known 4-cyl designs for Fiat.

    Fun fact: this car does share its rear suspension with the later (2.4 L) Fiat Dinos.

    Like 0
  20. Araknid78

    Ended: May 06, 2020 , 11:23AM
    Starting bid:US $29,500.00
    [ 0 bids ]

    Item location:Tampa, Florida, United States

    Like 0

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