Rare Rides: This 1987 Fiat Is Ritmo, Abarth, 130, and TC

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
rare rides this 1987 fiat is ritmo abarth 130 and tc

Today’s Rare Ride wears a lot of different badges. The most important ones are Fiat, Ritmo, and Abarth. Come and check out the sportiest version of the final evolution of Fiat’s replacement for the long-lived 128.

By the late Seventies, Fiat’s 128 was getting long in the tooth. The company needed a new small family car to take the brand through the Eighties. Hatchbacks seemed to be the wave of the future, as Volkswagen paved the way with its new Golf in 1974. Fiat’s own hatchback design was ready early in 1978, debuting at the Turin Motor Show.

As the Ritmo went into production, Fiat implemented a new robotics system at its factory in Italy. Construction of the body shell and welding was automated, allowing Fiat the fun new tagline “Hand-built by robots.” Said robots put together three- and five-door hatchbacks. A convertible version was added in 1982, but was designed and built by Bertone and branded as such. North Americans knew the hatchback versions as Strada.

With the first run of hatchbacks a success, Fiat began designing a revised model known as “series two.” On sale for 1983, the second album had improved NVH levels, and was intended to take on the Ford Escort and Opel Kadett. The Abarth version also appeared in 1983, and Fiat wasn’t finished with Ritmo developments.

There was one more revision in 1985; this one focused on visual changes rather than engineering ones. New door handles for the five-door hatch joined reworked bumpers. Engines were shuffled as well, with a smaller displacement diesel joining other gasoline offerings. Depending on market, engines ranged from 1.1 to 2.0 liters of displacement, the largest of which featured twin cams.

At its debut, the Abarth was the hot hatch of the Ritmo range. With the largest 2.0-liter twin cam engine, horsepower measured an impressive 128. Top speed was about 121 miles per hour, and acceleration to 60 took just 7.8 seconds. All transmissions in Abarths were five-speed ZF manuals. Though performance was considerable, the tech underneath was a bit behind the times (the Ritmo Abarth was the only European Eighties hot hatch to use carburetors throughout). The Ritmo kept its carburetors until 1988, when the model was phased out in favor of the Tipo.

Today’s rare graphite beauty is located in New York and contains a charming glove box flashlight for when your Italian car breaks down. It asks $13,000.

[Images: seller]

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4 of 18 comments
  • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on Apr 17, 2019

    Nice-looking car, and it would have been a worthy successor to my former 1974 128SL. This copy looks exceptional, but no old Fiat is worth $13k unless it's a Dino.

  • Stuckonthetrain Stuckonthetrain on Apr 18, 2019

    Curious where people get these maintained and serviced, if you don't self wrench. Even within 100mi of metro NYC (which used to be Italian car ground-zero), I think I can count the number of recommended vintage Italian car specialists on 3 fingers. I bought my '14 500 Abarth from a guy in north NJ who had a handful of old Lancias and Fiats, and even he basically just farmed out different aspects of repair/rebuilds all over the place, as his budget, time and interest level saw fit.

  • Master Baiter It’s hard to make predictions, especially about the future. It will be interesting to see if demand for Ford’s EVs will match the production capacity they are putting on line.
  • Brett Woods 2023 Corvette base model.
  • Paul Taka Hi, where can I find 1982 Honda prelude junkyards in 50 states
  • Poltergeist Make sure you order the optional Dungdai fire suppression system.
  • Prabirmehta I charge my EV at home 100% of the time. The EV is used for in-town driving and the gas guzzling SUV is used for out of town trips. This results in a huge cost saving and rare trips to the gas station.