tells here the history of your Fiat124

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è sempre la stessa storia! Vignetta disegnata da un giovanissimo Paolo alla fine degli anni '70 del secolo scorso, purtroppo è sempre attuale.

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The history

Presented at the 1966 Ginevra Motor Show, the Fiat 124 Sedan bore to replace the well established "1300" & "1500" Sedans who had had so great success in the early '60s. Someone said that the 124 was not very beautiful, too much commonplace style, so much thrifty built.

The last thing was true because the car, to be cheap, was very spartan and lacked of many gadgets. The others ephitets was luckily free placed, due also the big goal achived very soon in Europe. Her sales quickly rose and she was awarded the trophy "Car of the year 1967".

Fiat have had many and many satisfactions after her, so the famous Fiat Group President, Avv. Agnelli said at a time:" the 124 has always got so many satisfactions to Fiat!". Simply, much reliable, with low maintenace costs, the 124 had adopted a right winning manifacture formula, the same for more successful future models' Group. The Sedan version was presented in May 1966 and was built for some 8 years to come, until Autumn 1974.

She had a very strong 1197cc engine, sporting albeit traditionally conceived. Standing, potent (60 Bhp) and elastic, this little engine was indefatigable. The traction was on the rear axle, the gear box had four synchronized speeds and the car had four Bendix discs brakes, a luxury at that time. The 124 re-arranged the category ‘s standards and battered her own era competitors for many years

In 1967 the Estate/Kombi version appeared, with five doors and then the Sport-Coupè and Spyder versions followed. This last two versions are very different both in the body than in the engines, a twin-cam versions with five speeds gear box.

In 1968 come the "Special" Sedan version: she had the same previous Sedan body but with little changes. She offered a bit more performances to the people and was sporting now four front lights, bigger bumpers, Sport-Coupè's radial wheels and new improved interiors. The engine was the same of the previous Sedan, with rods & hairsprings slide valves gear but rosen to 1438cc cubature. She had the same four speed gear box, many mechanics refinements (brakes, suspension, electric plant) and achived a top speed of 150 kM/h.

At the same time the 124 achived many sporting goals, sharing many races and rallies: in a memorable 40 days raid, two special equipped cars ran from Cape Town to North Cape, in the Summer of 1970. At the end of that year the 124 underwent to the first substantial restyling of all versions; the Sedans had the same improved previous engines with some mechanic refinements (brakes, suspensions, carburettors). The 1200 had had the alternator replacing the old dynamo and some body changes, like the entire rear tail completely redesigned with bigger useful lamp lights.

The 1400 had square front lights and differents bumpers. Totally new the Sport Coupè with a 1600 cc twin cam engine. Near the end of her career the 1200 had a new black plastic radiator grill, wheels and doors of the "Special" version, improved interiors and a new slide valve gear shaft of different shape that brought her 5 more Bhp.

The "Special" version had a brand new 1592cc twin cam engine, borrowed from the Group's admiral, the new Fiat 132. This much improved version was the best of all, the top of the family development. She was available with a GM automatic gear box also, her engine gave 95 Bhp, she had five speeds, the electronic revolution counter, electronic breakerless starter, iode lamp lights; top speed was over 170 kM/h. There just has been a 1438 cc TC version in 1970 (Sport-Coupè engine).

In the Autumn 1974 the 124 Sedan commercial career came to end and production ceased with some 2 million buit examples. But she was far from disappear because her huge diffusion and after some foreign firms that were licence-buiding her. The Spyder was particularly welcomed both in USA and Germany, lasting in production until 1985, under Pininfarina firm.

In 1970, with a giant effort, Fiat Company built and delivered to the Soviet Union a giant factory plant, located some 1049 kM South East of Moscow, on the Volga river. Near here rose a little town called Togliatti to house all the engineers and workers of tyhe car factory. This was the so-called VAZ, Volzhskij Automobil'nyj Zavoda, (Volga's Car Factory Plant), and the selected model to build was the Fiat 124, of course.

Italian version showed strongness and reliability features but Russians & neighbourhood needed something more. The results was the locally so-called "Zhigulì", after a hills chain in front of the plantwork (Lada for export, after a Baltic divinity). That car was (and IS today) a much strenghtened 124 Sedan klone with totally different engine, suspensions & brakes arrangement. Their "Special" model is a curious hybrid matching between Fiat 124 & 125 models.

Thanks to the Russians the 124 alias Zhigulì survived to the present days, is enlisted in the primates guinnes together with Ford T, VW Beetle and Citroen 2CV and total production so far ran to the tremendous number near 8 million of built examples.

Today is still in production at the same plantwork, now renamed AutoVaz after a property change, with minimum modifies. Today's models are named Lada 21-05 & 21-06, being the last their own "Special" model, identical to the 1974 issue.

In Spain also, in 1968 production bagan in the local Fiat-branch house, the Seat; Spanish versions were quite identical to their Italian sisters, except for the "1430 Especiàl" Secunda serie (2nd serie, Special Mk.II) which in turn, was another local hybrid using Fiat 125 car body elements and gadgets. She was powered by a 1438 TC engine and in Spain all 124 series were very liked and warmly welcomed.

The Spanish also were very enthusiast and skillful runners and their very modified and much improved Seats won many trophy and races. Another very important step in the 124 career was the last Spanish developed and built version, the famous 124D "Pamplona", after the site of the production plant. This last scream type was a very guessed version, modified with typical Latin good taste; she enjoied a good success. She was at least imported in Italy also where was very welcomed. They were infact registered as "national-built type".

Other firms was Tofas in Turkey, Premier in India and other works in Egypt, Ireland & South-Africa and Corea..

This is the coincise history of our beloved car. She had so many qualities like reliability, strongness, versatility, indefatigable engines, good value for money, and cheapness; but she had some faults both her own and/or in common with the contemporary counterparts/rivals.

Firstly she was quite thirsty: she demanded a discrete amount of petrol but at that time there were no energy crisis. Then his little engine was voted - in extreme hard climatic and work conditions - to suffer some engine failures due the insurgence of vapour-lock in the carburettor or in the fuel pump.

Other minor faults were the small size petrol tank (with relate little endurance) and - above all - the terrible rust menace! rust was a true ghost of that era production because the poor qualities of materials, manifacturing tecniques and paints. Those cars bore literally naked and unprotected from this point of view.

Another fault, in common with many other counterparts, was the quite minimal layout of the cockpit with the aim to keep low the production cost and the relate purchasing price

The 124 had marked an entire era, that between the last Sixties and all the Seventies; had rosen to very important technical targets, had motorized so many people over near half of the world, ranging from the estabilished professionist to the poor farmer. The vast majority appreciated her and awarded her precious service, the other few didn't.

Despite this the history didn't has been kindly with her, today only some a hundred examples survive in Italy, not the same, luckily, in other foreign licence-building countries like Spain, Russia and neighbour. In Spain she's being mass recovered, rebuilt and preserved.

Another beautiful and skillfull enthusiasts Group works very well in Australia.

to enlarge photos click on the miniatures

1)Fiat 124 Sedan 1200

2)Fiat 124 Estate/Kombi 1200

3)Fiat 124 Special 1400

4) trasparency view of 1200 sedan

4) 1200 sedan's interiors

5)Fiat 124 Sedan 1200

7) a Russian-built example, the Zhigulì

8) the Spanish 124D "Pamplona";

9)124 Sport-Coupè

10)Fiat 124 Spyder