Only two men have driven works-built 131 and Escort in the relevant period : Björn Waldegård and Simo Lampinen.
Lampinen: ‘The Escort was fantastic, a real joy. You could do 20 things wrong and still get it back each time. It was a natural oversteerer. So long as you could turn the wheel, you were okay. And the engine was unbelievable.
“The Fiat was more of a racing car. It helped to be really sure you knew where you were supposed to be going. Even on narrow tyres in Sweden, you didn’t throw it around much. The engine operated over a narrower band, but the crash gearbox was great and so were the brakes.”
Waldegård: “Fiat paid a tribute to the Escort by opting for a conventional car like the 131 after the Stratos years. When I had a 131 in Sweden for month, I was astonished what you could adjust and set up. I suppose I am also surprised that the much less sophisticated Escort could still give it a run for its money.
“The Fiat was limited in rear-wheel travel: too much and you hit the diff on the road; set the car too high and you had no grip. The Escort was the most forgiving car I ever drove. And it accepted harsh treatment. But it was the engine that gave the Escort its most characteristic value: with the right flywheel, they’d pull from 4500rpm up to 9000 rpm -and beyond.”