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1972 Fiat 130 Coupe: Boxy Italian Beauty

The Fiat 130 is among our favorite 1970s coupes: they were styled along the same lines as the Lancia Gamma and Ferrari 365 GT4 2+2, and much later the Bitter SC. That is to say they are boxy and very likely designed by the same folks at Pininfarina as the Lancia and Ferrari. They are also manly in an Italian Job or Steve McQueen kind of way, although McQueen could handily afford the Modena version. 130s – both coupes and sedans – are very rare Stateside, but can be found in varying states of repair on the continent. We happened across this example, which the seller reports is mechanically sorted but clearly needs at least a little interior help, while trolling The fact that it is an Italian car for sale in Italy (Turin, to be exact) by Italians makes it all the more appealing. As it stands, even with shipping this car could be a deal for the right buyer at €3,367, or about $4,400.

When the 130 was released in 1970 it immediately made most “personal” or GT coupes from other major European manufacturers look dated. Cars like the Mercedes W111 280SE Coupe and the BMW CS were designed in the mid-1960s and all of a sudden looked old, but were not old enough to be considered “classic” at the time. But it wasn’t just the outside: the interior of the 130 – both coupe and sedan – was very modern and angular. The four place seats, upholstered in leather or the more common velour, were modern in appearance and design, as was the fairly extensive use of contrasting-colored plastics throughout. We especially like the 70s-tech console with the period radio and the row of labeled toggle switches. Very period cool.

One of the other appeals to the 130 coupe – and this car in particular – is the 5-speed manual transmission. A lot of period coupes, including the Ferraris, were increasingly more commonly found with automatic transmissions where a proper stick shift should be, and of those that came in stick a lot were 4-speeds vs. 5-speeds. This optional ZF 5-speed (also used by companies like Mercedes and BMW) is the right transmission for the job of putting the smooth 3.2 liter V6’s 165hp to the pavement. The manual transmission-equipped 130s also came with power steering, a welcome addition to a car weighing-in at about 3,500 pounds. All 130s, however, were equipped with adjustable steering columns – almost unheard of in those days.

For many, cars like Ferrari 599s and such are the ultimate expression of a mid-life crisis. For Car Geeks like us, something like this Fiat 130 Coupe would do the trick: it’s different enough to make a statement (although only the cognoscenti will know what it’s saying), it’s roomy enough to take your friends or even your family out for a day trip or longer. Thanks to the internet, parts can be had relatively easily, although you may have to wait a few days for them to arrive from the motherland. If the mechanicals are truly sorted, restoration of this car to a nice driver standard would be basically reupholstery (tan leather, anyone?) and from the looks of the photos a paint job. All-in you should have a very nice, unusual driver for less than ten grand, which to the right person on this side of the Atlantic may just be a $15,000 car. At the bare minimum it would be worth at least what you have in it, if you don’t get too crazy with it! You may also want to check out this dealer’s other stuff here, as they have quite the eclectic mix of interesting motors.


5 thoughts on “1972 Fiat 130 Coupe: Boxy Italian Beauty Leave a comment

  1. I found your site through a google alert for ‘Bitter SC’. I have 2 and have become quite the fanatic about them. I have never heard of the 130 coupe. I love it. It is very cool and I appreciate the write up. If you know of somebody interested in possibly owning a Bitter, let me know. There are roughly 140 of them in the U.S. and they come up for sale at modest prices frequently. Thanks for this great write up. I have always dreamed of owning a fiat someday.

    Best regards,

    • I love the fact that there is a guy out there (you) who has not one, but two Bitter SCs. Always thought they were really neat cars back in the day, and even now I like them because they’re not every other stinking car on the road!! How do the Opel motors hold up over time, and are parts reasonably easy to source?

      • Well from what I can tell there are actually 7 of us in the US/CAN with 2 or more Bitters 1 guy has 4, another 3, and several have 2. The guys ‘on the edge’ are the ones with a coupe and either a sedan or convertible. There are only 4 sedans in the world and 15 (or so) convertibles. The motors – there are two. The stock Opel 3.0 (I-6) – extremely reliable. The other is the stroked 3.9 (Manzel/Opel). It too is reliable, but some say a bit less (piston ring lipping? – I’ve heard of it, but have never actually seen it.) My 3.9 has 81K miles and runs great. my 3.0 – 18K miles and it purrs.

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