It’s funny how great things sometimes come from the unlikeliest, most unloved places, and such is certainly the case with the 1971 Fiat 130 Coupe. Based on the unpopular Fiat 130 Sedan, the Coupe was just about everything the Sedan wasn’t. The design was brilliant, for starters. The Coupe looked good from just about any angle, and secondly, it could carry four passengers in total comfort just as well as any sedan could, if you exclude the fact that it had only two doors – obviously. On the inside, the 130 Coupe was luxurious as anyone could want, with comfortable and quality upholstery, power winders, power steering, two-tone horn, and an electrically-controlled retractable antenna, all things normally found on much more expensive automobiles.
On the engine side, the 130 Coupe was equipped with a 3.2-liter V8, a bored-out version of the 2.8-liter version found on the sedan, which addressed its ‘lack of power’ problems. It was still only 165 horsepower, but provided plenty of torque, making for a fun drive. Top speed was 118 miles per hour, and 0-60 a very acceptable 10 seconds flat. Most cars came with a three-speed automatic Borg Warner transmission, although a five-speed manual was also available, for purists.
In the end, what did in the 1971 Fiat 130 Coupe was the fact that it was a mass-market Fiat, and carried the Italian manufacturer’s reputation. It simply couldn’t match the prestige of its more famous rivals, and paid the ultimate price.