Showing posts with label Fiat Cars. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fiat Cars. Show all posts

Fiat 500

Fiat 500 1950s Italian classic car

In '57 - when the Fiat 500 was released - motorcycles ruled Italian roads. Whether solo - or attached to a side-car - they were the way most people got from A to B. The Fiat 500 was set to change that. It was convenient and economical. Okay, so were motorbikes. But, the '500' came with a roof ... and a sun-roof, at that! By '77 - twenty years later - Fiat had sold over 4,000,000 of them.

The 500's stats were not shattering! It had a twin-cylinder, 499cc motor - producing 18bhp, in standard trim. Top speed was 60mph. Enter Carlo Abarth! His 695cc SS model pushed 90mph. The 'Abarth' featured flared wheel arches, oil cooler, and raised rear engine cover. They were there to prevent over-heating, and increase stability. A pleasant side-effect was that the Abarth acquitted itself well at the racetracks. The roadster, too, handled well. Complete with rear-mounted motor, it delivered a desirable 52mpg. It cruised at 55mph. It was best not to ask too much of it, though - due to the drum brakes, and non-synchromesh gearbox. A modification made to later models was the move from rear to front hinges for the doors. That was especially good news for those still on two wheels!

So far as comfort was concerned, the little Fiat was 'utilitarian'. That said, '68's '500L' came with reclining seats, and carpets. Not exactly 'Rolls-Royce' ... but then a Rolls-Royce did not do 52mpg! The Fiat 500's mission was to provide stress-free motoring, to as many people as possible. That mission, it accomplished ... with petite, but impressive aplomb!

Fiat 8V

Fiat 8V 1950s Italian classic sports car

Had the 8V - or, Otto Vu - been built in the US, it would have been dubbed the V8! But since it was, of course, built in Italy, the Fiat powers that be opted to call it the 8V. Then again, countries often do things different ways round - like letting people drive on the wrong side of the road, for instance! Anyway - the engine in question was a 2-litre 70° V8 ... in American money, that is. Whatever the nomenclature, once put through its paces, Fiat declared itself well-pleased with the result.

The 8V was released in '52. At the beginning of the Fifties, the upper echelons at Fiat were in disarray. Rumours spread that chicanery and sharp practice were rife. In fact, it was an ideal time to consider climbing Fiat's corporate ladder. Young Dante Giacosa - head of testing - saw the new car as a chance to impress. Amidst all the chaos, his superiors made it clear the 8V needed to deliver.

The 8V was conceived as a luxury sedan. So impressive, though, was its V8 motor, that thoughts soon turned to the sports car market. Initially, the 8V served up 105bhp. That was later upped to 115. After still more development, it finally maxed out at 127bhp. Top speed was a handy 190km/h. The 8V's price tag was 2,850,000 lire. Value was added by all-round independent suspension - a first for Fiat. Originally, the idea was to lengthen - and co-opt - the Fiat 1400 chassis. Then have Pininfarina work its stylistic magic on top. Excess weight, however, put the kibosh on that plan. Into the design breach stepped Fiat's Fabio Rapi. It was his proprietary bodywork which bewitched visitors to '52's Geneva Motor Show. Just 114 8Vs, though, would subsequently be built. By '54 - a mere two years after its launch - it was game over for the 8V coupé. A bit of a damp squib, then, all in all? In a way - but, during its brief lifespan, the 8V returned Fiat to the sports car fold. It got the illustrious Italian firm back on track - manufacturing classy, fast and agile automobiles!

Fiat 130 Coupé

Fiat 130 Coupe 1970s Italian classic car

When Pininfarina consider a design one of the best they ever did, you know it was a bit special! That was the case with the Fiat 130 Coupé. The simplicity of its styling was its strength. The 130 said it all in just a few clean lines. They gave it gravitas - as befitted a first-rate luxury car. Sadly, though - in terms of sales - Fiat simply did not have the cachet of, say, a BMW or Mercedes.

The 130 Coupé's imposing exterior was matched by the opulence within. Velour seats were drawing-room dapper. Veneer door cappings blended with electric windows. There were dual-tone town and country horns. Plus, acres of space for four well-heeled occupants. Comfort was the Coupé's stock-in-trade. Power steering pampered the driver. And for the passengers, independent suspension provided a smooth and stress-free ride.

Performance-wise, the 130 was no slouch. Top speed was 118mph. A 3.2-litre V6 gave 165bhp. Torque was plentiful. The 'box was a Borg-Warner 3-speed auto - with a 5-speed manual available. Mechanically, the 130 was solid, sound and dependable. But, it was aesthetically that the 130 shone. Classic Italian styling cues were written all over it. Commercially, though, the car was hard done by. Fiat, of course, has a fine and prestigious back catalogue. But - had it been built by a bigger, more 'luxurious' brand - the Fiat 130 Coupé would have received more of the plaudits it deserved.