1st in the US: 1988 Fiat Tipo 1.6L

It's quite a claim the seller is making, but it could be true. This is the first Fiat Tipo for sale in the US I've seen, anyways.

Fiat is to Europe what General Motors or Ford is the US: a huge automaker that builds cars for everybody. Most of the time that means affordable, frugal front-wheel drive compact cars that get you from point A to point B. In 2013, Fiat was the second largest automaker in Europe. They've made a lot of great contributions to automobile history. Lately, they've been selling the retro-styled 500 here. It's an okay car, but barely represents the best of Fiat.

With the Tipo however, Fiat wasn't interested in retro style and instead forged ahead with a fresh new start. The Tipo debuted in 1988 featuring an array of 4-cylinder gas and diesel engines, front-wheel drive, a galvanized body to protect against corrosion, and an all-new chassis that was shared with a bunch of other cars.

The styling was courtesy of one of my favorite designers of all time, the great Ercole Spada. It is a pure, simple and undiluted exercise in straight lines and angles. In true Italian Fashion, this lovely example looks even more sweet with bright red paint and Borbet alloys.

Underneath the hood is a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder naturally aspirated engine. It only produced under 100 horsepower, but these engines weren't subject to performance-hindering emissions requirements that a US import would have been at the time, and coupled with the stick shift, may very well feel lively.

Inside is a pretty cool interior, notable for it's digital display and comfortable cloth seating. The photos aren't great, but from what is visible, things look tidy and in good shape. The seller says it has 87,500 kilometers on the clock which is only about 54k miles. They say everything is working and it has zero rust.

Now for the tricky part: paperwork. The seller says this Italian came here by way of Germany, so they have a German title (which, other than a novelty item I'm pretty sure is useless in the US), port clearance paperwork (sounds important) and a Rhode Island certificate in lieu of title because the state does not issues titles for cars older than 10 years. That is perhaps the most vital part and should allow anyone to register the car and get an actual title in any of the other 49 states (except for California, where it all have to undergo smog, but the seller does says it has a factory catalytic converter).

I guess the only question left is why. Why would someone go through the trouble of importing this vehicle only to sell it?

Regardless, this Fiat is a neat alternative to an early 90s VW Golf or Acura Integra. It will certainly be the only one on the block, and it seems to have been well-kept, too. It needs a new owner who will keep it just as clean and un-modified.

Available here on ebay with zero bidders starting at $8k and a $12k Buy It Now.

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