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Fiat Argenta – the unknown middle act

Fiat Argenta Front

Fiat Argenta – the unknown middle act

The sun is shining over the fields. The road goes up and down, and meanders through wooden groves, open fields and preety homes. The fourth gear is in and the rev meter is at 3500. 

“Level down” says Per. Without thinking, I push down the clutch pedal, gear down and I’m letting the third gear, evenly in. In a steady stream from the nearly 150 horsepower, the 40-year-old Italian is pushed across the somewhat uneven asphalt.  

The feeling of the high Fiat is swaying but stable.

“This car was what you could buy for the money you get when you have done the Swedish Military Service. There were not many cars to choose from at the time, so when a blue, manual, last year model of Argentan appeared in good condition, I just have to have it” says Per with a smile as we stand in front of his almost 40-year-old Fiat Argenta. 

Fiat Argenta from left side

“I grew up in 4 different Fiat 125s, which are the grandfather of the Argenta. But it was my dad’s friend Clas that made the biggest impression when I was 13 years old. He bought an Argenta 2000ie from 1983 in the summer of 1986. All trips in that car made me memories, that it was the coolest car ever. I thought it was so cool so I skipped everything that had to do with a moped, which all my friends were aiming for, just to save the money for an Argenta.” he continues. 

After a while, he adds with a slight laugh. 

“Now my first car became a Peugeot 205 GR, but whatever …” 

from behind Argenta

Much has been changed on the Argentan

The first thing Per points out what he has done with his square Fiat is that he changed the clunky facelift front to a nicer “Shark tip” from a scrapped 83a.

The two-tone paintwork was inspired by Mercedes’s 190 & the E class, normally the last version of the Argentan bumpers was painted in anthracite gray. 

“The previous owners of the car have not been the best caretakers of the car. That’s why I had to tear down the engine and change piston rings in 1994. It´s lucky that I took vehicle engineering in high school. ” says Per with a smile. 

Fiat Argenta Engine with Ritmo top

“Unfortunately, I had to redo the top renovation in 2015 due to my previous poor work in 1994. But then I fixed a 105TC top from a Ritmo with larger intake valves and Pittatore intake cam. So the engine should produce about 145 horsepower. ”

The Argenta’s highness has come down to the ground

Original the Argenta is high, not only is it distributed so that from the waist upwards it is far higher than today’s standard, but the whole car is high in itself. 

Left side from back on a Fiat Argenta

Per, therefore, decided to lower it about 40 mm or rather cut the springs, and then install the KUB gas damper all around. 

Then, to get the front stiffer, an extra diagonal braces have been fitted in the engine compartment. The battery has taken the place of the spare wheel in the trunk, which makes the car significantly better balanced. 

Blue Argenta right side

The look of the car, compared to the original is striking. The tall original car has now become a ground-sniffing, air breaker that looks rough and racey.

The lip on the front of the car has Per made and produced himself. 

Factory priorities for the Argenta are incredible and unsettling

Per says that the flow of air into the interior was abysmal for the first year. He never really understood why. 

Until the day when he lifted the inner doors in the backseat. To his surprise, he discovers that the factory forgot that the air must pass through the plastic for moisture protection. 

With a quick grip, the plastic was cut open and there has never been any problem with the airflow in the compartment ever since.   

Steering Wheel Nardi in a fiat

In addition to the time delay of the interior lighting, we can go into the specific windscreen wipers that have a time module built-in. It detects when you last had the windshield wipers on and then controls how much the wipers should initially dry, the first few seconds. 

If you have not had the windshield wipers on at all, they will crank three times when you turn them on for the first time. If you pull the wipers again a minute later, it sweeps off the windshield with only two sweeps, within 10 seconds only one sweep.

In fact, a completely meaningless and probably quite advanced solution for that decade. 

Fiat ARgenta profile back

The fuel relay in the engine compartment is eating the forces of nature.

This priority of windscreen wipers can be compared to that Fiat is putting the fuel relay behind the left headlight. No major flaws with it can seem, just that there are large holes between the body and the headlight. Water, snow and air sprays directly into the relay, which is completely smashed up. 

When we open the hood, Per points to his own solution to overcome this. A half plastic bottle screwed into the body that protects the relay from the forces of nature. 

fuel relay in enginedepartment of a Fiat

“This is an incredibly common error on the Argenta. The relay breaks simply because it is unprotected. Maybe Fiat should have tested it better. ” Per finish by holding his hands out, like an Italian.  

Few Argenta in the register

Even rust protection must have been down prioritized at the factory in Italy, which is definitely the biggest reason why there are so few Fiat Argenta’s left in life.  

“A lot of rust preparation has been done on this car I can say. Parts of the ceiling, the thresholds, the bottom edge of the doors, half the floor. Yes, the list can be really long.” 

“The most mysterious is the right front door. It rusts considerably more and more intensely than any other part of the car. It must be the composition of the plate just for this door. ”Per speculates as I photograph it. 

Fiat argenta hood

At a quick look at the Swedish Car Register, you see that there are only a few Argenta in Sweden left. 

“It has been noticed that the market has really narrowed down for this model. Specific parts of this model are really starting to be difficult to find. ”

exhaust of Fiat Argenta

The garage fire swallowed many parts

Per says that throughout his time as an Argenta owner, he has collected all sorts of things. When given the chance, he bought what he came across, to bunker up and ease for the future. Because this Fiat, he seems like a perpetual keeper. 

Unfortunately, the vast majority of parts were in a garage that sadly burned down to the ground, in Gothenburg. In the garage were not only the parts but also Per´s beloved FIAT Coupé 20VT and a FIAT 125 Special in original condition

backseat lamp on a fiat argenta

“The fire like a black stone for my soul, but fortunately, I must say, the Argenta was in another place at the time. Although there were many unique parts, such as chairs, new bumpers and doors that disappeared in the flames. And the two cars of course.” says Per, looking down in the ground with a sad face. 

Nurburgring – France – Argentan is not a trailer queen 

In our email conversation before the meeting, Per writes in one of all the emails that he probably broke his personal record between Sthlm-Gtb. Without stopping time included, the trip took 3.5 hours. I got so surprised because no one else I have been in contact with, in the classic car world, have used the classic car so much, hard and frenetic as Per. 

speedometer on Fiat

“I get more and more proud the longer my trip meter on the car goes. Today it stands at 32,000 mil and I smile when I think about it. Because I’ve had so much fun with this car all those mils. ” 

Last summer, Per, along with a friend, took the Argentan down to LeMans Classic in France. 

“It was incredibly hot and the only thing that saved us was probably that it has a roof hatch and very good fresh air intake. Like many other older cars the AC is missing.” 

The most special thing about this trip was on the way home when Per drove Nurburgring with the Argentan. 

Nurburing

Pirelli was stunned by the performance

“I did 4 laps with the car and the goal was to come under 10 minutes. Only ended up at 10.05, which was a bit boring. If I have had the chance to change the ignition coil and got a few more laps, it probably wouldn’t have been a problem. Have to wait for next time”

Per is really against stickers, but the Nurburgring sticker at the tailgate is fun and makes people really confused, Per tells with a laugh.  

Croma chairs in a ARgenta

“When we were down there on the track, Pirelli was there as well and tested some tires. The Pirelli staff had apparently been completely stunned by “an Argenta! On the Nordschleife! ” a restaurant owner told me. After he realized that I was the owner of the 2-ton lacquered Fiat.” Says Per with a wide smile. 

The camber front is set to -1 degrees and it is possible to adjust to about -2 degrees with original chimps, Per says when we are talking about track racing. The relatively simple brakes hold surprisingly well for track – typically for cars from alp countries, Per tells me. 

Nardi steering wheel in a Argenta

Argentan came a bit inappropriate and never became a hit

Argentan was launched in 1981 as Fiat’s flagship and was a huge update on the 132, that was built between 1972 and 1980. Almost everything was changed between the different cars except the doors, they were the same. 

With this model, Fiat’s strategy was to release the number series completely and give their cars meaningful names. Argenta, that means silver. Meaningful or not, completely up to you to decide. 

seat heater in a fiat

Argentan was born because of the long development time of the successor Fiat Croma, one of the 4 cars in the collaboration Fiat / Saab / Lancia / Alfa Romeo. 1985 Fiat Croma, which means chrome, was presented. In the first round, Croma was built in 11 years, between 1985-1996. 

An example of setbacks for the Argenta, this beautiful 80’s car may have been the name, at least in England, if one is to believe in hearing. During the period Argentan was trying to launch and stabilize on the UK market, England was in a pretty heavy fight with Argentina. Argenta – Argentina. Who knows? 

In Sweden, there was also a general skepticism about Fiat’s larger cars.

black handle in the right door of a fiat

The Argenta just goes on and on

When you look at the car, it feels like you’ve stepped right into a movie from the ’80s. Either it is the villains or the security police who come rushing in this Fiat over a square, where pigeons flax and a fountain sprinkles steadily in the middle.  

It looks swaying and the car’s body almost hangs over the tires when it arrives.

“Can I have a test drive?”, as usual, there is a little nervousness in my voice when I ask. 

“Of course, let´s have a go!” says Per enthusiastically 

fiat brand inside the car

Takes the driver’s seat that comes from a Fiat Croma. 

“It is so great that these chairs have electric settings and it´s the same buttons as the Argenta originals. No one really notices the difference. Right? ” 

I immediately see what he means with the buttons. They are the same as at the chair as they are in the center console. Only that the chair was made a number of years later than when the car was manufactured. 

We get out on the open straight 70 roads around Enköping. Barely a car in sight. The Nardi steering wheel is comfortable in the hand and the September sun is warming. 

Pressing the gas pedal down and it shakes in my body as I feel the car steadily pulling away between the fields. Sure, there is no horse kick,  but there is power in the engine that just goes on and on until I put the next gear in. 

pedals in a Fiat Argenta

Just want to snitch it

It feels just like in the movies, the car is swaying but stable in some strange way. 

“I know, it becomes like a trust between you and the car. After a while, you get that feeling that teaches you to control this car. It’s like the car wants to leave, but it’s still there.”

The road goes up and down and meanders through wood groves, open fields, and house gardens. 

Per Eldh and his fantastic FIAT ARgenta

Many childhood memories of the 80’s flow over me, without ever having seen or experienced an Argenta in my entire life before. 

The car creates a haul when I sit behind the wheel. The feeling of just wanting to snitch it and set a record down to Gothenburg grows for every meter I drive. Nurburgring here I come!

When we stop, I understand Per’s joy that the trip meter continues to roll on the car, because it is fun and a joyful car to drive. 

Thank you, Per for letting me dust the roads around Enköping with the Italian Silver-arrow. 

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Follow Per and see his lap

Per Elds Garage.org account

Follow Per on Garaget.org and read more about both his Argenta and his other cars – BMW Z4M Coupe – BMW 118D – Alfa Romeo 75 3.0 V6 – read and look at the pictures by clicking here.

See the Argenta at Nurburgring the summer 2018. Per tried to push the car down to under 10 minutes per lap, however, the best time was very close, 10.05 minutes. A new ignition coil and a few more laps would have done the trick.

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2 thoughts on “Fiat Argenta – the unknown middle act

  1. Hi ,it´s beautiful Argenta. I had Argenta 1600DOHC from 1982,the same colour as yours,many years back in 1995.
    It was the most beautiful Fiat i ever had.
    I am crying for this model of Fiat. In Czech Rep. is no one piece of this car .

    1. Hello Jan

      Sorry to hear that you still miss it. It´s not many good examples out there today and can only agree to what you are saying, it´s a beautiful car.

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