Let’s just try to agree when one can say that a given car model has a motorsport history. Real motorsport history.
This article arose from a tough reader comment on our Danish site a while ago. I had written that the Fiat Cinquecento Sporting “does not have much real motorsport history”.
To which a reader replied: ” That’s a lot of clutter – especially in the south of Europe, but even in Denmark it did indeed have its own single-model rally class – the Trofeo Fiat Cinquecento.”
And it is true that there was a running series for the model. In fact, it was not only in Denmark but also in its home country (Poland was technically the home country, but here I mean Italy …), France, Germany, Spain, Greece and more. Trofeo Fiat Cinquecento was thus quite a success in the nineties, in fact.
The thing is that all the cars were identical and only competed against other Fiat Cinquecentos.
In that light, a VW Polo also has a motorsport story. A very rich one, even – VW has been doing Cup racing with the Polo for over forty years. But that does not make the Polo a nice car brimming with motorsport history. Who in the world thinks “motorsport” when they see a Polo? Or a Cinquecento, as was the matter here.
Now in my book, motorsport history is something that’s earned (preferably won) in straight battle against other competitors – not with others. To illustrate my point we can stay within FIAT’s own rows and look at the Fiat 131, which is a good example of what I mean:
The 131 was a completely ordinary (for its time) family car with classic three-box design, rear wheel drive and 1300 or 1600 cubic engines. It was basically no more spectacular than a Fiat Cinquecento many years later. But it became quite spectacular with the 131 Abarth Rallye, which debuted in 1976.
400 were built in a collaboration between FIAT, Abarth and Bertone, and the intention was to run in the rally world championship for Group 4 cars. Where the model then proceeded to win the championschip square and fair in both 1977, 1978 and 1980. These victories were won in direct competione against Ford Escort, Porsche 911, Opel Kadett and Ascona, Lancia Stratos and many others. And along the way, the cars themselves were driven by Walter Rörhl, Markku Alén, Sandro Munari, Timo Salonen. Just to name a few.
Those are victories won in open competition, and that’s the motorsport history that counts.
Cup cars, single-make series? That’s just a game and something you can resign to if your cars are not any good in real motorsport.