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Italeri Fiat 131 Rally

August 2005
Fiat 131 Rally
Italeri No. 3690
Model Type: Injection-molded styrene
Molded Colors: White, black, clear
Scale: 1/24
MSRP: $27.50
Pros: Seatbelt detail, decals
Cons: Few parts fit without modification; clear parts soft
In 1976, Abarth modified a Fiat Brava two-door sedan into a rally car that won more than 18 major rallies and three World Championships during the next four years.

I was pleasantly surprised to see just how close Italeri's rendition is to the prototype. The body is spot-on. The interior also appears accurate, with only minor problems with the angle of the steering column and the lack of holes in the foot and dead pedals.

The accuracy of the engine is another story. The prototype engine is a 1997cc four-cylinder twin-cam that roughly mimics the letter Y when viewed from the front. The kit's engine is shaped more like a rectangle standing on one of its narrow sides. The cam drive pulleys and belt are one piece with the cam belt cover and have a minimum of detail. The radiator hoses are not accurate and do not fit when installation is attempted.

The prototype was equipped with a dry-sump oiling system, which is omitted on this kit. There are no visible mounting points when installing the engine into the floor pan. The engine must be mounted as far back as possible in the engine compartment in order to have enough room for the radiator assembly.

The interior is assembled on the floor pan and has separate side trim panels. Italeri has included the seatbelt hardware on the plastic sprues. The harness straps are on the decal sheet. When fitted they are quite realistic.

The body molding is clean and crisp, with only minimal cleanup needed prior to painting. The decals are made by Cartograf, and are excellent as usual. There are some gaps that need touching up with a brush; I found that Testor's red no. 1103 and green no. 1124 match the colors on the decal sheet.

After the clear "glass" was installed I trial-fitted the body to the chassis. The body wouldn't slip down on the chassis, leaving the floor pan about 1/8 inch below the rocker panels. I had to use a rotary grinder to cut almost 3/16 inch off the leading edge of the instrument panel to gain clearance at the front. I also had to break the side trim panels loose and remove approximately 3/32 inch from the upper edges.

The roll cage comes in contact with the inner surface of the glass assembly (the glass may be part of the problem, as it does not fit up snugly against the roof). I broke the joints of the cage, narrowed the front crossbar by 1/16 inch on each side, and removed enough material from the rear loop and vertical roll bar (about 3/32 inch each side) to obtain proper clearance. The rear trunk floor does not align with the rear valance. I had to bend the rear trunk floor up rather radically, and grind away another 3/32 inch to gain proper alignment and fit.

When I checked the fit of my model's hood, I found it contacted the shock- tower-to-core-support braces. I trimmed the braces and attached them to the core support in a lower position.

The hood was still too high, so I removed the grille and sanded the top and bottom. I then had to remove the bottom lip from the hood to get a more-acceptable fit.

The lenses for the front lights had to be trimmed to fit their mounting holes.

I have not built a model straight out of the box that has been more difficult to build. Although I think the finished model is impressive and would be a welcome addition to anyone's collection, I cannot recommend this kit to any but the most experienced of modelers.


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