Remember the Chrysler K-car? It helped save Chrysler until the next crisis. The Fiat Tipo played a similar role, at least in underpinning a lot of models. Here’s one of them.
Another Fiat, a 125 behind glass, made me stop at the location. When I stopped looking at that I wandered further. In the otherwise empty lot nearby this Tempra crouched. Looks good from afar, but it’s far from good. Although the body had galvanising, rust is biting the doors and the handles are seized. It’s not for sale anymore and evidently wasn’t worth taking to the dealer’s new location 10 km away.
As ever, the interior is in decent condition so anyone wanting stock with which to refurbish their beloved Tempra restoration project need look no further (though I notice the plastic film is coming adrift on the driver’s door top-roll; Renault 25s, Volvo 940s and Peugeot 605s also have this). In comparison with its peers the Tempra’s interior lacks conviction. When people talk of “plasticky” this is the reference. Is that a huge ashtray below the HVAC panel?
Among its peers, the Bora/Jetta/Vento (delete as appropriate) may have lacked any slight charm but it compensated with quality. Ford’s Orion (two generations!) could be Ghia’d up and coated with a certain charm.
Funnily, the Tempra was less spacious than a Tipo in the rear too. Look at the cramped rear footwell. It does have a wide centre-armrest but so does the roomier and vastly more attractive 306 sedan, the second-best looking small saloon of the time.
More significant than its inherent inadequacy, the Tempra was cousin to the Fiat Coupe Fiat, the Alfa Romeos 145, 146 and, alas, 155. It also flimsily served as an approximate basis for the Lancias Dedra and Delta 2. As a 145 and 146 it just about managed but as a Lancia it struggled. The Lancias were at least as dismal inside as this mortally oxidising turbo-diesel, Zegna cloth notwithstanding. Fiat improved things for the AR 147 which now makes me curious as to why they didn’t think to do a Lancia equivalent. The Lancia mid-range went from Dedra to Lybra to Delta 3 and in so doing by-passed the Tempra’s successor, the Bravo/a and Stilo.
Fiat did offer lots of engines for this car: the range is delightfully stepped: 1.4.,1.6.,1.8 and 2.0 litre L4 petrols and three diesels. Maybe the Fiat family 5-pot would have fitted?
The lucky Brazilians got a 2-door Tempra. It appears quite attractive in photos. The downside might be that the assembly and trim could be even worse than the Euro car. Swiss customers could have a 4×4 Tempra wagon: is that a cult car now? The Swiss get 4×4 everything, it seems. I bet there was a 4×4 Ford Fusion, just for them.
Here’s an idea: put the 4×4 running gear into the Brazilian two-door body with the 5-banger… Now that would be interesting.
Fiat stopped selling the Tempra in western Europe in 1996, a while after customers stopped buying them. The car here still has its price tag: 50,000 kr. Interested?