Marcelo Gandini is one of the all-time greats of automotive styling – after all, he designed the Lamborghini Miura, and cars don’t come any prettier than that.
The Fiat 132 is one of his less well-known designs, but almost five decades since its debut there’s no denying that it has stood the test of time beautifully. Introduced in 1972 as the replacement for the 125, the 132 was longer and wider, combining some of Gandini’s favourite styling cues of the era with Fiat’s traditionally boxy profile.
At more or less the same time, he was responsible for the styling of the original E12 BMW 5-Series through the Bertone styling house for which he worked, so it’s no surprise that there are parallels between the two. The reverse-raked nose, the high waistline, the quad headlamps and the ‘Hofmeister kink’ are features of both, though the Fiat is the less angular of the two.
It’s a rare and largely forgotten car here in the UK, where a big Fiat was a distinctly left-field purchase against a Ford Granada or Vauxhall Victor, but it’s a car that always had an enthusiastic flair about it, thanks in no small part to its lively twin cam engines.
In other markets, though, the big Fiat was well-regarded, not least because it didn’t suffer the same corrosion issues it was prone to in our damp climate.
As well as Italy, it was manufactured in South Africa, Poland, Yugoslavia and even South Korea, where it was sold as a Kia.
The example here is a South African car, assembled at the factory in Rosslyn in 1975. That explains the higher ride height as seen on South African cars, as well as the fact it has survived to be an extremely rare rot-free right-hand-drive example thanks to its dry climate origins. It’s a wonderful survivor and a great choice of unusual but highly usable classic saloon.
The 132 is a recent arrival in the UK and its history is sparse, but not completely absent. The original service book is included, showing that it was first registered to a Mr FJ Van Der Westhuizen in Dunnottar, South-East of Johannesburg in South Africa’s Gauteng province.
It was supplied new in September 1975 and was serviced by the supplying agent in 1976, but from then onwards the service book is unstamped.
There is also a random service receipt from 1980 showing the same keeper.
As well as the service book, the glove box contains an AA of South Africa road atlas dated 1975-6, which is a cool touch, and a Fiat Guide to Safe Motoring Hints, along with a dealer directory.
The vendor has completed all of the legally required import paperwork, including the NOVA (Notice of Vehicle Arrival), and has paid all the duties, which means it is ready for the new owner to apply for a logbook – a simple process via a DVLA form. It also comes with a copy of the South African export certificate.
Finished in a vibrant turquoise, this isn’t a car for shrinking violets. Indeed, you won’t lose it in a car park.
It is, however, in utterly stunning original condition. It’s not perfect – there’s a small dent in the bonnet, there are a few stone chips and marks on the door edges, but these are all very minor and it’s an absolutely wonderful thing to look at.
The vendor believes the car may have had a new front panel at some point as it’s a slightly different shade, but there is no evidence of any accident damage.
Underneath, we couldn’t see anything of concern and the floors have recently been undersealed for future protection.
The banded steel wheels look fabulous and are shod with nearly new rubber, while all of the chrome is very smart and well-presented.
For a car that has spent its life in a hot climate, the interior of the Fiat is quite remarkable, perhaps in part due to the UV-reflective tinted glass in its side windows.
The dark beige vinyl trim is in superb condition, leaving us in no doubt that the 72,619km on the clock is genuine – that’s just a shade over 45,000 miles.
The dash is very smart with its wood-effect trim, while the dials and gauges all work as they should. It also has a blanking plate over the radio aperture, suggesting that one has never been fitted.
The rear seat and door cards are also in superb condition, along with the dark blue carpets.
Other adorable touches include a boxed and complete tool kit with ‘Fiat’ cast into the tools and a vinyl boot mat complete with the Fiat 132 badge logo embossed into it.
The 107bhp 1.8-litre Twin Cam is one of the all-time great Fiat engines and in this car it’s attached to a slick-shifting four-speed manual transmission.
It fires up with only a little choke and soon settles to a smooth idle, with no excessive smoke or untoward knocks or rattles.
We were able to give the car a short test drive on private land and can report that the unassisted steering is surprisingly light and that the brakes and suspension all appear to be in good order.
If you want something that’s rarer than a Pagani Zonda, arguably just as cool (in the right eyes, at least) and also really quite usable, then this is the perfect classic. It’s old enough to be tax and MOT exempt, it’s lively and dynamic enough to still be perfectly usable and you’re pretty much guaranteed not to see another one coming the other way.
It’s a fabulous example of one of the rarest Fiats of the 1970s and is beautifully original and gorgeously presented inside and out.
It’s a remarkable, rare and beautiful car that’s just waiting to be cherished by its next owner.
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