To this day, it’s the 130 Coupé that gets all the fanfare and for good reason; the Pininfarina designed Fiat is one of the most elegant cars of all time and among a clutch that make you weak at the knees. However, you shouldn’t forget the Berlina on which it was based, for that too was, is and always will be a real beauty.

Launched in March 1969 at the Geneva Motor Show, the successor of the 2300 was the Italian carmaker’s first proper go at building a large saloon and the fact that they got it spot on in the first attempt speaks volumes about their competitive capabilities.

This formal dignified vehicle, a favourite with high-ranking members of the Italian state, boasted great styling, an excellent engine not to mention a terrific chassis; it was blessed with an all-independent suspension (modified MacPherson struts front and rear, with torsion bars in the front and coil springs in the rear) along with passive rear steering and four disc brakes all of which sure made it dynamic to drive. It would provide transportation for leading government ministers such as President Sandro Pertini and Prime Minister Aldo Moro and as good as it was, it was no competition for the Mercedes W114. Almost 2 million of those would sell between 1968-76 while Fiat only shifted 15,000 during the same period. It wasn’t a commercial success but it would be foolish to pass this up as just another ‘also-ran’ in the in the luxury saloon class.

It was just too attractive for that what with its straight-edged looks from the Rolls-Camargue/Lancia Gamma Coupé period giving it plenty of road presence. It could perform too; the quad-cam V6 was first offered in 2.8-litre form (140bhp), then extended to 3.2-litres in 1971 (165bhp) and was mated to either a three-speed auto or ZF five-speed manual. The lucky 15k — mostly from the Italian market — had themselves a Fiat that packed decent power, tidy handling and a luxurious cabin. They’d have been mighty pleased with their purchase, as was the rest of the world that bought the W114...

If you get lucky and find a clean 130 Berlina today, expect to pay around Dh75,000 while the more rare Coupé can fetch twice that amount.