Fiat Ritmo Profile

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Fiat Ritmo General Information

Also could be identified as the 138 or Strada....

Please note that in UK the Fiat Ritmo was actually known as the Fiat Strada for some reason, which is Italian for Street. Really no idea why, as Ritmo is Italian for Rythm and doesn't really contradict to anything English? It is also known as Ronda, but that is solely Seat's name for the same car, while I (happy to be proven wrong!) don't know of any other Fiat model that changed its name for the UK market.

Otherwise the Ritmo was nearly known as the Fiat 138, but they eventually moved from project numbers to proper names. Up to Fiat 130 it was project numbers, but 131 already had the added name Mirafiori and the 132 Argenta. The 133 was a car that had a changed 127 body but rear engine and RWD from the old 850, this however was only sold as Seat 133. Except the Argentinian Fiat 147, proper names were used now and no project codes marketed any more. One of the first such cars was the 138, aka Ritmo.

The Fiat Ritmo was probably the most characterful C-segment hatchback car of its decade. Plastic bumpers were large, drawn high into the body line. Doesn't sound very posh, nor do single round headlights sound posh, but these headlights were surrounded half by the bonnet, half by the bumpers and the rear lights were inside the bumpers with the number plate in between. This all looked very unique and characterful indeed and it was nearly a shame when a 1982 facelift got rid of all that. Never mind more modern and more sporty light designs, the facelift looked conservative and almost dull compared to the original version. Interesting is that the original version from 1978-1982 stood alone as the Ritmo, the model variations and names Seat Ronda and Fiat Regata were only launched with the facelift. The Fiat Regata as a Ritmo saloon also replaced the famous Fiat 131 in 1983 - which in rally terms is quite a curiosity as the Ritmo was rallied as a smaller, more amateur driver orientated group2 car alongside the group4 Fiat 131.

For rallying the Ritmo was bigger than 104, R5 & Fiesta. It was more seen as a cheap alternative to C-segment hatchback cars as i.e. Volkswagen Golf. The Fiat Ritmo was maybe not regarded as having quite the quality of some of its C-segment opposition, but it was very keenly priced, had fun handling and an exciting and characterful design.

Following the successes of Renault R5 Alpine and Peugeot 104 ZS, these little FWD hatchbacks seemed to turn into a cult thing like a category of its own. Although Fiat concentrated on the group4 131 at the time, the Rallye Monte Carlo 1979 saw the WRC debut for Volkswagen Golf GTI, Ford Fiesta S1600 and this Fiat Ritmo.

In the case of the Fiat Ritmo, apart from Italian Championship programs, it was only really seen in Monte Carlo - again showing that the idea was probably born in the R5 Alpine's success in this event in 1978. Although initially fast, they suffered engine problems. One may wonder if Fiat didn't go too far with this car, they claimed 200BHP from its 1.5 engine in Monte Carlo 1979 & 1980 and clearly the reliability was impossible. An extreme short stroke engine layout that was low on torque and required high revs did not help the matter. Later long stroke 2.0 versions (125 TC) were much better, even had the 131's 2.0 engine but with only an 8v cylinder head. Already on the variation name you see the big difference, as the numbers in 75L or 125TC stand for the road version BHP. There was even a hotter hot hatch version 130TC, but that only came with the facelift and was simply the 125TC with different carburettors, so it didn't make a significant difference for rally homologation.

Still, it is interesting that the main driver of the Ritmo in Italy as well as the Rallye Monte Carlo was Fiat’s home star. If the main 131 line up in the WRC 1979-1980 was Walter Röhrl, Markku Alen, Attilio Bettega, one would have thought Fiat would have liked to see the Italian as a potential winner, especially in Monte. But it was Bettega who was moved from the 131 into the Ritmo. In contrast to the 131, today the Ritmo seems totally forgotten by rally fans, so it is interesting to recall that apart from Attilio Bettega many other famous names were seen in the car, as i.e. Carlo Capone, Per Eklund, Mikael Sundström.

Fiat Ritmo Related Content

Fiat Ritmo Evolutions

Model & Evo. (Activity)
Fiat Ritmo 125TC (0-0) 200/5800 230/5000 3937.1687.1370 820 (4.1) FWD (2448)
Fiat Ritmo 75L (79-0) 165/7600 170/5600 3937.1747.1375 820 (5) FWD (2448)

Random Fiat Ritmo Photos

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Fiat Ritmo Results

This is an unofficial Car Results list and may be incomplete.

Pos Event Driver Co-Driver # Rego hh:mm:ss
9th. 1984 WRC Rallye San Remo M. Rayneri E. Bartolich #24 [UNKNOWN] 10:05:05
16th. 1983 WRC Rallye San Remo P. Fabbri P. Cecchini #29 [UNKNOWN] 0:00:00
12th. 1982 WRC Rallye San Remo F. Cunico M. Perissinot #15 [UNKNOWN] 0:00:00
6th. 1980 WRC Rallye Monte Carlo A. Bettega M. Mannucci #15 [UNKNOWN] 8:60:43
89th. 1979 WRC Rallye Monte Carlo P. Eklund H. Sylvan #7 [UNKNOWN] 0:00:00

Fiat Ritmo Retirements

This is an unofficial Car Model Retirements list and may be incomplete.

Pos Event Driver Co-Driver # Rego Reason
Ret. 1985 WRC Rally of Finland M. Sundström V. Silander #16 [UNKNOWN] SS23 transmission
Ret. 1984 WRC Rally of Finland M. Sundström V. Silander #21 [UNKNOWN] SS34 gearbox
Ret. 1982 WRC Rallye San Remo C. Capone L. Pirollo #22 [UNKNOWN] SS23 crash
Ret. 1982 WRC Tour de Corse G. Swaton B. Cordesse #82 [UNKNOWN] SS99 ?
Ret. 1981 WRC Rallye San Remo C. Capone L. Pirollo #22 [UNKNOWN] SS6 crash
Ret. 1981 WRC Rally of Finland M. Sundström V. Silander #19 [UNKNOWN] SS43 engine
Ret. 1981 WRC Rallye Monte Carlo A. Bettega M. Perissinot #7 [UNKNOWN] SS12 engine
Ret. 1980 WRC Rally of Finland A. Laine J. Markkula #22 [UNKNOWN] SS45 electrics
Ret. 1979 WRC Rallye Monte Carlo A. Bettega M. Perissinot #20 [UNKNOWN] SS7 engine