Back in the 1970s, Fiat was a truly global automotive giant. It employed well north of 100,000 people in Italy, and it was churning out around 1.4m cars per year. It was an integral part
of the Italian economy, but the one thing it lacked was sporting success to back up its lofty position in the automotive world.
That began to change in 1971 when Fiat executives brokered a deal with Italian- Austrian Carlo Abarth to absorb his successful racing business into Fiat’s assets. The deal sparked a union that immediately changed the firm’s fortunes, particularly in the world of rallying, and the Fiat Abarth 131 was the first true product.