Rare Rides: A 1993 Fiat Tempra, the Practical Sedan for America

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

The looks of an old Volkswagen Jetta, the reliability of an old Italian car, and the inconvenience of right-hand drive. All of your dreams can come true in today’s Rare Ride — a Fiat Tempra. It made its way from 1990s Italy to England, then stormed up the banks of Rhode Island.

Designed with the popular family saloon class of vehicle in mind, the Tempra was a few-generations-removed descendant of the legendary Fiat 124. The new Tempra stood in as direct replacement for the angular Fiat Regata, which carried family car responsibility at Fiat between 1983 and 1990.

Sharing the Tipo Tre (Type Three) platform with the similar but more stylish Alfa Romeo 155, and the similar but more derpy Lancia Dedra, the Tempra debuted at the Geneva Salon show in 1990. Production began that year, with four- and five-door sedan, wagon, and panel van variants for European markets. There was also a two-door sedan, but that body style was only available to Brazilians.

As expected, the Tempra was front-drive, but Fiat offered optional four-wheel drive on the wagon version. Engines ranged between 1.4- and 2-liters in displacement. All of them were inline-fours, and naturally aspirated or turbo variants were available in both gasoline and diesel engines.

The standard five-speed manual and four-speed automatic transmissions offered on the Tempra were joined by another, very special transmission — a vision of the future. It was the Selecta transmission, otherwise described as a CVT. Paired only with the 1.6-liter gasoline engine, it was the first time Fiat offered such a transmission in a mid-size car. The Selecta was previously available in smaller Fiat models like the Uno and Panda. A quick search revealed the Selecta was available for the 1986 model year in small Fiats, and they’re very scarce today.

The Tempra remained mostly unchanged throughout its life, receiving a mid-cycle refresh partway through production in 1993. Today’s Rare Ride wears the original for ’90 styling; after the facelift the SX trim was only available with the 1.8- or 2-liter engines. Today’s manual 1.6 SX just missed the cut for an upgrade.

As top-trim model, most interior features on this example are electrically powered, and the supreme digital dash is fully functional in its bright color scheme. The listing on Hemmings indicates there were only six of these Tempras left on the roads in the United Kingdom. That number is now down to five, since this Tempra resides in Rhode Island.

Feeling tempted by Tempra? It’s yours for $3,950.

[Images: seller]

Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis

Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Started writing articles for TTAC in late 2016, when my first posts were QOTDs. From there I started a few new series like Rare Rides, Buy/Drive/Burn, Abandoned History, and most recently Rare Rides Icons. Operating from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio, a relative auto journalist dead zone. Many of my articles are prompted by something I'll see on social media that sparks my interest and causes me to research. Finding articles and information from the early days of the internet and beyond that covers the little details lost to time: trim packages, color and wheel choices, interior fabrics. Beyond those, I'm fascinated by automotive industry experiments, both failures and successes. Lately I've taken an interest in AI, and generating "what if" type images for car models long dead. Reincarnating a modern Toyota Paseo, Lincoln Mark IX, or Isuzu Trooper through a text prompt is fun. Fun to post them on Twitter too, and watch people overreact. To that end, the social media I use most is Twitter, @CoreyLewis86. I also contribute pieces for Forbes Wheels and Forbes Home.

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  • Overdale Overdale on Oct 11, 2018

    The five-door model you mention was actually a separate but closely-related car called the Fiat Tipo, which appeared a bit before the Tempra. I remember its looks seemed quite futuristic back in 1988 (certainly more so that the frumpy Renault 19 launched at the same time). The Tipo went on to be European Car of the Year 1989 but build quality and reliability of the Tipo and Tempra just weren't good enough.

  • Jagboi Jagboi on Oct 11, 2018

    Looks like there are 24 Fiat Tempra's on the roads in the UK of all variants. https://www.howmanyleft.co.uk/?utf8=%E2%9C%93&q=fiat+tempra&commit=Search The numbers seemed to decline drastically about 10 years ago. Probably MOT failures due to rust and not worth fixing.

  • IBx1 Never got the appeal of these; it looks like there was a Soviet mandate to create a car with two doors and a roof that could be configured in different ways.
  • CAMeyer Considering how many voters will be voting for Trump because they remember that gas prices were low in 2020–never mind the pandemic—this seems like a wise move.
  • The Oracle Been out on the boat on Lake James (NC) and cooking up some hella good food here with friends at the lake place.
  • ToolGuy Also on to-do list: Read the latest Steve S. fiction work on TTAC (May 20 Junkyard Find)
  • 1995 SC I'm likely in the minority, but I really liked the last Eldorado best. That and the STS.