1983 Fiat Ritmo 130TC Abarth: For When the GTI is Just Too Ordinary
It is likely that those of us who were automotively conscious during the early 1980s remember the Fiat Ritmo (nee Strada) as little more than a Volkswagen Golf (nee Rabbit) knock-off, but with perhaps a little bit of Italian flair and the typical long arm/short leg driving position. And by-and-large, the perception would be correct. Then again, in some ways it just comes down to style: do you prefer Giugiaro or Bertone? Do you like more gauges or less? Are you feeling lucky? Find this cool little car here on eBay in Miami, Florida at $8,000 with no reserve.
The 130TC was the second-generation Ritmo Abarth, a post-facelift successor to the 125TC that saw some success on the rallye circuit. In addition to the more powerful 128hp 2.0 liter inline-four, we are partial to the facelifted car’s quad headlights and beefier taillights, although the basic Ritmo design – even including the funky round door handles – remained largely unchanged throughout the model’s run. The polished alloy wheels were a carryover from the 125TC, but definitely look the part, as does the oddly-shaped rear spoiler.
The heavily bolstered Recaro seats are period cool with hollowed-out headrests a ‘la Audi and the hole in the bottom cushion suitable for a racing harness, though you have to install that yourself. This car’s interior, like its exterior, is in remarkably clean condition, and in good colors. It is unusual to find any 1980s vintage cloth interior intact, so it’s a real plus in this car. The gauge cluster, despite being square and housing a bunch of square gauges, provides the driver with just about everything they could want or hope to know about the mechanical operation of the car – I like that. It’s one of the reasons I still lust after a mid-1990s Audi S6. It’s like a cockpit.
The 130TC will power from 0-60mph in a hair over 7.5 seconds, which will blow the doors off a Mk 1 Volkswagen GTI and any number of other period hot hatches. I like to think that part of that is due to the fact that this car comes with carburetors – two of them – instead of a period time-bomb of a fuel injection system. Not that I’m biased or anything, but on the last Mk1 VW I had – a Cabriolet – this was a neverending source of angst. Carburetors are just easier, and they sound cool, too. Note the trumpets in the Abarth’s airbox. Very cool. On the other hand, the car does have electronic ignition – a plus for anyone like me who hates dealing with points.
From 60mph, the 130TC’s DOHC and close-ratio ZF 5-speed transmission will take the car all the way up to a not insignificant 121mph which, in a car this size, probably feels like about 150. But straight line performance surely isn’t what this car is about. This car is for winding out on gravelly back roads, jumping over small hills, and scaring the bejeezus out of whomever you have conned into the passenger seat. Or for showing-up the GTI guy. After all, those cars, relatively speaking, are a dime a dozen. Think different.
Love the brass balls pocket in the seat.
Those seats were TOO heavily bolstered, and couldn’t lay forward for access to the back seat! The obvious solution was on Fiat’s parts shelf, nobody expects the seats to tip forward on a four-door and there was a 5-door hatchback Ritmo/Strada…but I’ve never seen a 5-door 130TC.