Fiat Abarth 131 rally - a WRC Mirafiori
Although Fiat's Lancia Stratos achieved great rally successes, it was not suitable for Fiat's flagship sports car. The Stratos was a niche car, built solely for sports purposes, not a family car to win the World Cup. The sale of this model was not a strategic priority for Fiat. Besides, it was not a "Fiat". Lancia Monte Carlo and Fiat X1 / 9 dropped out for similar reasons.
The final choice fell on the family Fiat 131 Mirafiori
Fiat 131mirafiori Racing / Sport
Fiat 131Abarrth rally "stradale"
Fiat 131Abarrth rally "corsa"
It was assumed that the two-door coupe used in the Racing model would be best suited for rallies because of a very rigid body construction. The car was equipped with the same DOHC Aurelio Lampredi engine as the Fiat 124 Abarth, but with a capacity of 2 liters and a 16-valve cylinder head. In its top version with mechanical Kugelfischer injection it achieved 230 HP. The independent rear suspension was adapted from the Fiat 124 Abarth. The same differential and rear axles were used. Although the 131 Abarth was inferior in power to its greatest rival, the Ford Escort RS, it had a great advantage over Escort: an independent rear suspension, which assured great stability, predictability and easy handling at high speeds also in skidding, even on bumpy corners. It was homologated by FIA on June 1, 1976 in Group 4 under number 647 .
In addition, between 1975 and 1978, FIAT obtained 7 FIA homologations in groups 1 and A for the Fiat 131 in the 1300-2000 cc engine versions, both in the two- and four-door bodies.
This beast dominated the WRC rallies at the turn of the 70's and 80's of the twentieth century. It was the greatest series of victories before the era of absolute rally domination by Group B 4WD cars. The drivers of the Fiat 131 were again a galaxy of the world's rally stars. Among those who joined the Fiat team were Samdro Munari, Walther Rohrl, Timo Makinen, J.C. Andruet, Timo Salonen, Simo Lampoien and the only woman to conquer WRC - Michelle Mouton. The Fiat Abarth 131 Rally won for FIAT SpA the dream title of Manufacturers' World Champion three times. Markku Alen and Walther Rőhrl won the individual WRC World Championships in Fiat 131 Abarth rally.