Despite their avant-garde design, late 1970s Fiats were more known for being unreliable rust-buckets than anything else, and Fiat had one heck of a job changing its message. The introduction of the 1988 Fiat Tipo in great part contributed to helping Fiat manage its message, something that had been initiated with the Uno. The Tipo was an uncompromising, sharp-edged car, that besides being more reliable than its forebears, in great part due to galvanized steel body panels, had one thing going for it: it was incredibly roomy, for such a small family car. Its unconventional design, which married a very long wheelbase – 100 inches – with a small body, pushing the wheels to the extremities, allowed for uncommon legroom, and its vast windows further emphasized the feeling of space.
The Tipo wasn’t the most exciting car in the world to drive, but it was no slouch, either. It was fitted with a 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine that produced 90 horsepower, and came standard with a five-speed manual transmission. It could reach a top speed of 107 miles per hour, and accelerate to 60 mph in 11.5 seconds. Neither number is particularly embarrassing.
The 1988 Fiat Tipo remained in production until 1995, which minor updates. While it wasn’t exciting, it was strong, relatively fast and reliable, which for Fiat made it a resounding success!