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Fiat 127. Memories of an icon

ER Classics Desktop 2022

One of the most successful Superminis of the 127s is celebrating its 1971th anniversary this year. The Fiat 1983 became Car of the Year 127 and within three years the counter had already reached a million copies. Until XNUMX, Fiat built the XNUMX in Italy, divided into three generations. Reason enough to dedicate a column to the sympathetic and cleverly designed Italian busy maker, who still evokes a feeling of joy in me.

During my first six years of life, three new copies of the first Fiat 127 generation passed in review at home. And I loved cars. I played with it. Talked about it constantly. She drew - much to the dismay of my kindergarten teacher - many times. So often, that I had to come up with other themes for pencil and paper, under penalty of a spot in the corner of the kindergarten. I then composed very handy landscapes, of course with a motorway in it. So that I could still draw cars.


Within that loving car perspective, our Fiat 127 was of course the best on earth. The whole world knew what my parents were doing. And as a young boy I wanted to know everything about the 127. Saw the changes from the first series and the arrival of the Special. The squeezing of the motor from 47 DIN-HP to 45 DIN-HP was also news. Just like the four-door version from Spain, which was sold as Fiat in several countries.

In 1976, the Fiat episode at home came to an end. But I always kept following the 127. In the fall of 1977 I was curious about the arrival of the second generation. The New was fortunately completely recognizable as 127. I liked the arrival of the 1.049 OHC engine, which was delivered in our country in the CL version (with extension windows and a removable bag on the door). The L was the entry level version, with the 903 cc engine. The number of doors was two, three, four or five, depending on equipment and market. And: a customer came with an increased loading compartment: the Fiorino.

The three-door Sport -with 70 HP- built in orange with black accents (or vice versa), I still find the most glorious 127. I drove it once, and that was both cosmetically and technically a sublime car. Orange was the main color of the 70HP that I drove. Actually, this was the 127 that, in my opinion, paid the most honor to the entire model series. In terms of color and livery it was delicious. And the engine with two-stage Weber modified by Abarth intervention seemed addictive. And again. And again. Delicious. Another nice version from that time: the 127 Top, a richly executed three-door fun package with a regular 1.049 cc engine. The Top was available in brown and blue metallic. And optionally with a folding roof.

The trim levels “L” and “CL” were also renamed for the 1981 model year (with detail changes) into the versions “Special” and “Super”, names that Fiat took to generation number three, the last real 127. The successor to that was in fact. a Brazilian Fiat 147, which also formed the basis for the van and the Panorama version. With those 147 derivatives (which we called 127) I personally had less.

Back to the last European series. This got, among other things, the larger headlights and more plastic protection elements all around. The interior also changed with it. In some markets it was also available with five doors, always in combination with the 903 cc engine. The last Italian 127 also had the three-door Sport version. It was bursting with details crawling under the skin. The digital clock above the mirror, the decoration, the headrests with mesh effect, a thick instrumentation, the 1301 cc with one double carburettor (75 DIN-PK) and the five-speed gearbox - including the sporty accents and beautiful light metal on the outside - of the top version a new party number. Reed also top.

The third generation also had the Super level. That was a luxury version with five gears, depending on the market, linked to the 903 cc OHV engine or to the 1049 OHC engine. The entry-level model of series 3 was the Special with four speed gearbox. At the end of 1990 I bought such a Special (three-door) for a bargain price. It was susceptible to rust, but mechanically in fair condition. The unsurpassed 903 cc OHV engine propelled my First Own Car with verve. And everywhere.

The Italian with HN-23-VN was also kind to my student-with-part-job wallet. After a few evenings in the country I sometimes slept in the car. Nevertheless, as a student living away from home, I also had other - mainly financial - priorities. I sold seven months after purchase my Fiat to downstairs neighbor Mark, with it right to usufruct. A few months later Mark and his girlfriend rode it whistling across the Swiss Alps.

After that summer - we're talking about 1991 - I was able to buy back the Fiat. I didn't. I still regularly went out with the Fiat. In the end, the 127 disappeared from the picture. I regretted that I hadn't bought back my first car for 300 guilders (guilders!). That uncomfortable feeling eventually subsided. Love for the 127 remained. Especially for the European versions, which were built up to 1983. I still enjoy reading old publications about the spacious topper with its transverse block and front-wheel drive. And I still get happy when I see a Fiat 127.

Fortunately, after I sold my first car, I still regularly drove a 127, including the aforementioned Sport versions from series two and three. It has been five years since I drove a Fiat 127. That was in for a report Auto Motor Klassiek. I drove a Fiat 127 of the first series, delivered new in the Netherlands in 1972. I wanted to ride out of the world with the small, striking and very cleverly designed Italian, who evoked memories in everything. The lively engine, the driving dynamics, the two central round grids on the dashboard, the almost sporty chassis, the freedom of movement, the large steering wheel, the seats: I returned to the first years of my life. Years in which I got to know that specific atmosphere of the 127. And in which my car love was cast in concrete.

27 Comments

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  1. My first car. Bought together with father and refurbished for 400 guilders. Had a lot of fun with it. I can even remember the smell of the interior. Still a soft spot for Italian cars.

  2. My MAVOOtje, which you still had at the time, had a yellow yogurt custard with FIAT glued to the left C-pillar. In separate letters, with the slant. The “F” neatly above. The owner / owner on the other side had done exactly that, the "F" on top again.
    And we, eating sandwiches in a circle around the school, but laughing at the TAIF.
    At the photo above, I suddenly notice how much the 3rd generation 127 already resembles the Ritmo, introduced a little later, also designed by Giugiaro.

  3. it is 1981 after a long time driving in a Fiat 128 a second small one is added. a stroller + pram with content and 2 adults in a Fiat 128 gets a bit tight. The dealer still had a 127. Test drive was not possible because the brakes were stuck. after the promise that everything was in tip-top order he bought him anyway. The crisis came and there was dismissal. Stubborn as we were, we started independently. In an economic crisis that sometimes causes a problem and the Fiat bravely participated in it. The engine ran less but after some fiddling with electrode distances it was still okay.
    The battery decreased a bit as well as the box girders, but yes, we had no MOT yet.
    A sturdy battery was placed in the trunk and a 4-core rubber cable was placed under the mats to the engine compartment. After starting (that was a bit difficult) had to be ventilated to let the blue fumes and the smell of burnt rubber blow out.
    Then the moment came that there was some creaking in the back. Well, it still drove albeit a bit uncertain. He “wagged” a little.
    Take a look every day; a big garage jack under it and start pumping. the rear bumper was about 80 cm high and the wheels were still on the street.
    Anyway I just take off the upholstery in the trunk and I had a wide view of the street; the whole construction was rusted away and the body was just loose on the axle. Still just drove home.
    Because the scrapyards (nowadays dismantling companies) were more open-minded in the field of the environment, they accepted it without a grumble and brought in 25 guilders.

  4. If there is one car that I have fond memories of, it is the 1. I learned to drive in it at my father's wood store. Friends and family had 127's. At primary school I was friends with the son of the local Fiat dealer in Ruurlo. In short, in terms of cars it was Fiat, Fiat and again Fiat. Panda, Ritmo, Croma, Uno, 127, 128 but especially the 131.

  5. Dear AMK, and Mr. Brussen,

    After corona and the last maintenance and modification work I am also ready for a ride. If the oldest Dutch 70Hp still registered may be present, please let me know, the 22-XK-25 would like to be there. There are still a few, all orange that are probably in for a “mini measure”. We did it before, just search fiat 127 sport SpaItalia and there is a whole list to be found. I can also ring a bell with a 127 '70hp' with 1300 and two 40er DCNFs. Sounds like fun !

  6. I used to have a 128, a green one that had 4 doors and ran pretty well but little pulling power. License plate was 24-rs 88.

  7. Mothers bought a Fiat 127, because the Fiat 850 was specially due for replacement, it was a 127 in the dark blue police color and therefore also came from the police, I do not know what was the matter with that 127, but the 127 ran super fast harder if the needle indicated on the counter after a good warm-up, the needle was perpendicular to the bottom.
    I myself drove a Fiat 128 with a homemade Abarth exhaust where he ran 15 km faster.

  8. Good story. I had almost forgotten the existence of the car. Now I suddenly remember that I did my driving lessons in a 127, with the nice and attractive daughter of our neighbor across the street as an instructor. In 1973 I passed the driving test in this 127.

  9. My first car when I got my driver's license in 1979. Her life started as light blue but when I bought her she was dark blue with incredibly widened steel underneath. So wide, in fact, that she could sail at higher speeds and with lots of water on the road. Only suitable for 2 people with 4 men in it, the rear fenders ran on the wheels. Had a lot of fun with it until one bad day the road ran off and came to a stop under the slope of a viaduct in a ditch. TL

  10. A very nice Fiat, especially the early ones I really like. I regularly come across it in advertisements, but yes, there are so many nice cars. It remains difficult to really go for 1 brand. I like the article written I recognize myself in it, I have also been under the spell of cars from my early childhood, which will not pass quickly, I think.

  11. I enjoyed driving it, there was a rust hole in the trunk lid and after that I had to get rid of it, it did not pass the inspection anymore, I was sorry because I always did minor maintenance myself
    Nostalgia

  12. My French fiancé bought a dark blue 1977 special in 127 ... now married, we happily drove it for two years until we exchanged it for a Fiat 131 mirafiori

  13. Had a black 70 hp, the Capri 1300 quickly stayed well ahead of the traffic lights
    Due to fam expansion I exchanged for 131 racing but 127 remained my favorite

    • But be honest, the Capri 1300 should never have been called Capri, even the 1500 is still doubtful to be 1. The 1300 originated in Belgium for the cheap tax on this cylinder capacity.

  14. Dear AMK,
    Am in the final stage of restoration to new condition of an orange 127 Sport (replica). COVID has put the project on hold for a while, but the body and technology are ready, assembly of the seats and door plates (still to be correctly painted black) will take a while. If desired, I would like to come by from Arnhem (by the summer ??). Incidentally, restoration takes place at Imparts BV in Ede (in the basement). By the way, I build a tickled 112 cc block in an A1050 Abarth (body also in new condition), now the standard block in the 127 state

  15. My first car was in 1974 a yellow Fiat 127 three-door, 73-DD17, bought new and the 127 still evokes very warm feelings in me. I would give something to drive one more time, experience that feeling one more time.

  16. The first series had belonged to an old lady. But after tasty planks he really drove a lot faster. Hubs trip to Renault bought a second new one. Immediately stumbling about the type plate on the right was 2 and on the left 900. A week later the first rust on the fender. And after he abandoned me as I rushed to my father-in-law's deathbed. I was done with it. Exchanged for a new 1050 Panorama. The station wagon version of the 128 and later a 128.
    But still a place in my heart for the 127

  17. I've had a yellow 903 cc. top car that never let me down. Bought from an old lady, he used oil in the beginning. But after some long highway rides the oil consumption was gone.
    I eventually sold it because the rust had become very bad

  18. In the 70s, most fatal accidents involved a Fiat 127.
    Not because this car was so unsafe, but simply because there were so many of them driving around.

      • A friend (Noutje) had a yellow 1980 in 127 with a black roof spoiler on the back. These were the youth cars. Sporty feeling, not too much horsepower, affordable (purchase, maintenance, tax and insurance) and repairable. Decorative strip on it and it went even faster optically. Because I had a 2cv I challenged him in the woods. I could beat him on muddy roads 😅

        • In 1991 I had my doubts about buying a discontinued model seat Fura, eventually bought a seat Ibiza.
          Always regretted afterwards that I made the wrong choice

          • The first love cast in concrete ...
            The styling of the carriage was still used by Lada, as an inspiration for that of the Niva ...

    • In terms of sales, the Opel Kadett was number 1 throughout the seventies. But a Kadett did not ask to be kicked on its tail and the 127 did.

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