Fiat Reviews and Road Tests

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Fiat

Founded as the Societa Anonima Fabrica Italiana di Automobili Torino, the management were quick to decide that Fiat should join other marques on the race track, knowing that success would result in car sales. Success came quickly when, in 1907, Felice Nazzaro won the Targa Florio, the Kaiserpreis and the French GP! Fiat’s first sports-car was the Balilla, a car derived from the small saloon design of the same name. Fitted with a four-cylinder 995cc OHV engine good for 36bhp, the car featured many innovations for the time, including hydraulic brakes.

The Mille Miglia model was a further evolution of the original, and not only featured a more powerful engine but a lovely “torpedo” body style. After the war followed the short-lived 1100S and ES models, born out of the very specialized 508CMM coupes of 1937, however the first true post-war sporting Fiat was the 8V, powered by a 2 litre 70-degree V8 pushrod engine good for between 105 and 115bhp.

Never considered a technological leader, Fiat nonetheless was quick to adapt to the new technologies of the day, particularly when the engineers saw merit; and so the 8V used a tubular chassis with coil sprung/wishbone independent suspension. Fiat then switched to the use of a basic under-pan, the resultant 1100’s, 1200’s and 1500’s all featuring coil sprung suspension and rigid rear axles. Most unusual, and least successful, was the “Trasformabile” of 1955-1959, although cabriolets built between 1959 and 1966 sold in large numbers.

The Fiat Coupe and Spyder versions of the rear-engined 850 models built between 1965 to 1973 were solid performers, while the 1966 derivatives based on the 124 saloon, the Sport Spyder and Sport Coupe proved Fiat capable of making truly great cars. That Pininfarina styled and built the Spyder also made them amoungst the worlds most beautiful.

Also see: The History of Fiat | The Fiat Story (USA Edition)
Fiat 1100 103

Fiat 1100 103

1955 - 1960
The Fiat 1100 is built on very practical lines. It was well equipped, for a low-priced car, with such refinements as a really good heating and ventilating system, screen washers, self-parking wipers, and lights in engine and luggage compartments. More>>
Fiat 600

Fiat 600

1955 - 1977
The Fiat 600 series was part of the postwar Italian 'Economic Miracle' and was produced in relatively large numbers from its debut at the Geneva Motorshow of 1955. More>>
Fiat 500  

Fiat 500

1957 - 1977
This tiny egg-shaped car is now seen in somewhat cult status with its miniature size appealing to millions. It was introduced in 1957 as a type of transportation for the masses and by the end of production some four million were built. More>>
Fiat 1500 Cabriolet  

Fiat 1500 Cabriolet

1963 - 1967
The 1500 Cabriolet was an enjoyable car to drive. It was aimed more at the touring sports car buyer than at the race driver, and it performed and handled almost as well as more powerful sports cars in its price class. More important to most buyers of two-seater roadsters was the fact that the Fiat was very comfortable, extremely smooth and quiet, and had more usable luggage space than almost any other car in its class. More>>
Fiat 500 Abarth  

Fiat 500 Abarth

1963 - 1972
The Abarth was also no noisier than the 500, despite the two very large diameter tail pipes of the special exhaust system. Best of all, the Abarth conversion made an already good car "great", just as reliable, incredibly nimble, more agile and with the Italian flair for knowing what a driver enjoys. In a word - Brilliant. More>>
Fiat 500F Berlina  

Fiat 500 F Berlina

1965 - 1972
Like any entirely new model, it was only natural that the Fiat 500 should mature. Thankfully Fiat resisted the temptation to enlarge the car, nor change the character - but maybe that was because it had become so damn popular. Just as collectable as the original Fiat 500, just as sexy, and one of the only micro cars that a bloke will look "seriously cool" driving. And while we can't give it a 5 star collectability rating, it deserves the 5 star cool rating. More>>
Fiat 850 Coupe

Fiat 850 Coupe

1965 - 1971
The 850 sportscar arrived just a year after the saloon model in 1965 as a neat fast-back four seater. Despite near useless rear seats the 850 was hugely popular. More>>
Fiat Dino  

Fiat Dino

1966 - 1973
In 1969 the Fiat Dino had its V6 engine increased from two to 2.4 litres, and its cylinder block was cast in iron instead of light-alloy. The new block was standardised to simplify manufacture (the old light-alloy block had separate cylinder liners which had to be inserted) and to ensure against water leaks as the engine aged. More>>
Fiat 124  

Fiat 124

1966 - 1974
At first glance the 124 could be considered unremarkable; it was boxy and had un-aerodynamic lines, being obviously based on the earlier 1100 Saloon, but those lines were also functional and were capable of containing five adults in reasonable comfort. An wagon version was announced at the same time. More>>
Fiat 124 Spider  

Fiat 124 Spider

1966 - 1985
Manufactured for nearly 20 years shows why the Spider has been one of the most successful Italian sportscars ever produced. More>>
Fiat 124 Spider  

Fiat 125

1967 - 1972
In 1968 the Fiat 125, with a fully imported price of A$2898, was arguably one of the best value cars in Australia, apart from the Big Three compact models and the eternal Peugeot 404. The 124 sold quite well in Australia too, but was deemed a little pricey for its size and weight by some, although they probably never actually drove it. More>>
Fiat 130 Coupe  

Fiat 130 Coupe

1971 - 1977
Despite being unpopular this car was actually very finely engineered with perfect proportions and superb elegance with ample room for four passengers. More>>
Fiat 132  

Fiat 132

1972 - 1982
Unfortunately many believed the Fiat 132 was a somewhat backward step, particularly given that the car, as a replacement for the Fiat 125, retained both rear-wheel-drive and a live back-axle. The cars lower line met with a mixed reception, some people considering that the 132's shape was "Japanese-inspired". More>>
Fiat X1/9  

Fiat X1/9

1972 - 1982
Fiat X1/9 was the earliest lightweight mid-engined sports car made - the biggest challenge at the time being how to locate all the mechans without compromising useable space. More>>
Fiat 126  

Fiat 126

1972 - 1993
The Fiat 126, successor to the 500, represented a modernisation and mild revision of the old Fiat 500 formula. The result was a low-priced car with a rather more boxy outward appearance, but still possessing all the desirable qualities of the earlier Fiat 500. More>>
Fiat 131 Mirafiori  

Fiat 131 Mirafiori

1974 - 1984
Motoring journalists at the time noted that the 131 Mirafiori's engine was "...more lusty than refined", churning out the power eagerly. It was not a great car, but it was well accomplished and offered a better than reasonable drive for the money. More>>
Fiat 131 Abarth Rally  

Fiat 131 Abarth Rally

1974 - 1980
The Abarth acted as a replacement for the valiant 123 Spider as Fiat's warhorse for road events. The main modifications included: two-litre engine with twin overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder, 140-147 bhp DIN (104 - 110 kW), five speed gearbox, independent rear suspension, four wheel disc brakes, extra wide wheelrims and aerodynamic stabilisers on the chunky bodywork. More>>
Fiat Strada / Ritmo  

Fiat Strada / Ritmo

1978 - 1988
It would be difficult to determine whether it was the Alfasud or the Fiat Strada that won the “race to rust” championship, but both were worthy contenders and near the top of their field in their ability to self destruct. More>>
Fiat Panda  

Fiat Panda Mark 1

1980 - 1986
The small front-drive Fiat Panda was so named, we assume, because of its stripey look. Most people were no doubt thankful that the Fiat Group decided to abandon type-numbering for their cars with the introduction of the Panda, and more would fall in love with the cars practical and clever design, which due to the use of many already-in-production components, minimised its manufaccturing problems. More>>
Fiat Argenta  

Fiat Argenta

1981 - 1986
The Italian flair for high performance luxury cars was never more evident than in 1981 when Fiat released the second major facelift of the 132 model, the wonderful Argenta. At the time it was Fiat's Australian flagship, and for good reason. The new model was bristling with modern technology, and was brimming with high equipment levels. More>>
Fiat Croma  

Fiat Croma

1985 - 1996
The Croma received a significant facelift in 1991 with new front design including changes to the lights, bumpers grille and sheet-metal changes to wings and bonnet. Also in 1991 the direct injected diesel engine was equipped with variable geometry turbocharger. The original Fiat Croma was a much loved favourite of the used-car bargain-hunter in Europe, but was strangely berated by everyone else (including Fiat dealers). More>>
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