car news Fun

Spotted: a 1979 Fiat 128 1100

February 23, 2024

In 1969, Fiat introduced the 128 as the successor to the 1100 model family. The Fiat 128 does not have nearly as iconic a status as the Fiats 500 and 600, but it was quite an innovative car when introduced. First, because it combined the front-mounted engine with front-wheel drive. That in itself was not a first (just think of the classic Mini alone), but Fiat made the necessary improvements and, moreover, in the compact segment it was still far from common.

Fiat 128 has very efficient layout

Because the available space was also used very efficiently for the rest of the car, the Fiat 128 offered enough space for the whole family despite its compact dimensions (l x w x h: 3.8 x 1.6 x 1.35 meters). By the standards of the time, then. According to Fiat, the powertrain took up only 20% of all interior space. The engine in question was initially a 1.1-liter four-cylinder with 36 kW (49 hp), later a 1.3-liter four-cylinder with 49 kW (67 hp) was also added to the range. Given its low weight, that power was enough to make the Fiat a smooth little car for the time. Later models with more power also appeared.

Fiat 128 was great success

It proved to be a successful concept: over 2.7 million units of the regular sedan and station wagon models alone were eventually produced. Thanks to the success of the Fiat 128, many more brands began to adopt such a compact powertrain. Some even see the 128 as the founding father of the modern compact car.

Fiat 128 had numerous variants

The Fiat 128 is best known as a two- and four-door sedan, but the model also had a variety of other variants. So were a three-door station wagon variant and a coupe version. The latter did have a very different design from the sedan and station wagon. Outside Europe, there were other variants, including a five-door station wagon and even a pickup. The Fiat 128 was also built under license, which included a hatchback version. The 128 also served as the technical basis for other models, including even the famous mid-engined Fiat X1/9.

With that, we have not yet had all the variants of the Fiat 128. This included local production in Argentina, Colombia, Sri Lanka and South Africa, including some market-specific variants. In Spain, SEAT sold its own variant of the car. In Serbia and Poland, Zastava built its own variants under license, some of which were in turn produced under license by Nasr in Egypt. Regular production of the Fiat 128 ended in 1985 to make way for the Fiats Ritmo and Regata. However, the last licensed models of the 128 did not walk off the assembly line until 2008.

The spotted specimen

We came across this Fiat 128 1100. So with this one, the 1.1-liter is under the hood. The registration number of this Fiat is no longer known to the RDW, but the letter combination makes it clear that the registration number was issued in 1979. Another license plate check website confirms that the Fiat is original Dutch from that year. The car would have never even changed hands. The MOT has been expired since 2004, though, and in 2016 the license plate was declared “temporarily invalid.”

Because the car was spotted on private property, this time we do not mention the spot location, show as few surroundings as possible, and the license plate has been made partially unrecognizable. Still, we hope someone recognizes the specific car. After all, there must be an interesting story to go with it, and we are curious. Why has the cute little car been parked for so long? In any case, we hope that the Fiat will be revived once again, as it makes the street scene a lot more cheerful.