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Fiat 128 rally. Popular variation on a popular theme.

ER Classics Desktop 2022

With great interest from the international car press, the successor to the Fiat 1969 R was unveiled in 1100: The Fiat 128. The Italian was the first model of the Torinese brand to be fitted with front-wheel drive. The transversely placed engine in the front, the excellent driving characteristics and the balanced concept were well received. The Fiat 128 was also praised for its 'value for money'. He was shown to the world in March 1971. He indirectly succeeded the 850 Sportcoupé, together with the later X1 / 9 and 128 Sportcoupé.

Striking appearance, many sporting features and typical features. The Fiat 128 rally was immediately recognizable as such. Image: Fiat
Striking appearance, many sporting features and typical features. The Fiat 128 rally was immediately recognizable. Image: Fiat

Characteristic

The Fiat 128 rally was only available with a two-door body. He was of course recognizable as 128, but very distinctive. On the outside, the Fiat 128 rally had a number of characteristic details. For example, the sports version of the 128 had a split front bumper, which was connected by a bracket. Four large round iodine headlights were also presented on that front. The inner two – entirely in rally style – served as spotlights. The four round light units at the back were also characteristic. This also applied to the folding side windows at the rear, as well as the black band with brand logo at the bottom of both sides. Optionally, the rally picture could be completed by installing aluminum Cromodora rims and a matt black boot lid and hood.


Sporting experience

The interior of the Fiat 128 rally was also characterized by the use of a lot of black. The dashboard was sober and effective, of course also equipped with a tachometer and oil pressure gauge. In front of the gearbox there was a preparation for placing a fire extinguisher in the center console. Behind the two-spoke steering wheel, drivers found a sporty place in the bucket seats. They were equipped with small headrests. And to complete the rally experience: a real footrest was built in the compartment under the dashboard for the co-driver. Not only the dashboard was – like many parts inside – sober in terms of color. The same was true for the headliner and strut trim.

Sober and sporty went well together in the Fiat 128 rally interior. Image: Fiat
Sober and sporty went well together in the Fiat 128 rally interior. Image: Fiat

Revolution

The 128 cc engine, also developed for the later launched Fiat 1 Sportcoupé and X9/1290, made its debut in the Fiat 128 rally. The engine was equipped with a double Weber carburettor, delivered 67 hp and a torque of 9,0 kgm at 4.000 rpm. The speedy engine was effortlessly whipped up to 7.000 rpm. He was surprisingly flexible. The 800 kilo Fiat 128 rally reached a speed of 13 kilometers per hour within 100 seconds.

Perfect gearbox

Part of the powertrain was a four-speed gearbox that was well suited to its task. It did not require any technical adjustments in the production of the rally. However, the box - like many other 128 parts - was revised in 1972. That was a huge improvement for the handling. The strokes became shorter and the 1st gear synchronization was noticeably improved. Also a feature of the Fiat 128 rally was that the oil sump was slightly smaller compared to the sump of the standard versions. Insiders claim that Fiat did that for a slightly different oil pressure.

Balanced to the extreme

The Fiat 128 rally was – certainly by the seventies standards – balanced to the extreme. The combination of the total technical concept, the 'drehfreudige' engine, the timeless design, the specific rally equipment with accompanying style features and the driving characteristics made the Fiat 128 rally a desirable driving iron during its production period. The fact that the basic ingredients of the Fiat 128 rally invited many tuners and leisure drivers to convert the car into a road racer and use it for competitions (especially the Germans loved it) did not help the current availability. As a result, many rally variants disappeared from the streets at breakneck speed. That rarity makes the Fiat 128 rally – which was produced until May 1975 – all the more desirable.

12 Comments

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  1. At the end of 1971 I tried to please Team Radio Veronica (read: Ed Swart). In the standard touring car class, the Fiat 128 Rally seemed to me a perfect instrument. Opponents (such as Hans Hugenholtz) opted for a Ford Escort Sport, also a fast and cheap cart. Hans Daniels also started with a 128 Rally, but because he entered Pirelli's imports as an importer, he did not appear in the Coupe Michelin. It was a special racing car, if you could speak of that. There were no bucket seats, because completely standard. The only free choice was for dampers (= Koni's) and tires. To combat the understeer, I rode Michelin TB Racings in the front and standard ZXs in the rear. 1972 turned out to be another good year.

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  2. Nice story, in our village you had 1 garage and Fiat dealer. So a lot of Fiat in the village. My brother had an 850, ha see the new AMK.
    As an engine overhaul company, we knew about the 128's stretching valves. Modification came quickly. Really nice car

  3. In 1974 I bought my first car a Fiat 128 1.1 L which I enjoyed driving, at one point the exhaust leaked and because I worked at a pipeline company I mounted a double pipe from front to back so that the car got a higher terminal speed that was 16 km higher than the standard. They were sensitive to moisture and starting was sometimes a problem. In 1975 I was on holiday in Italy and bought a model of the Fiat 128 Rally South Africa. In 1976 it was replaced by a Toyota Corolla 1200.

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  4. Incredible actually and rare that only the Rallye had the double round taillights. Purely from a production point of view, this requires an expensive separate mold for the 'stamping' of the rear part of the body. Add to that the logistical aspect of other parts on the regular production line. I don't think any other brand has ever used this expensive solution for a special version within a model range.

  5. I've had two bright blue Fiat 128s in the years '73-'75, see photo of the first from 1971. Very nice cars. Have made many beautiful kilometers with it, also in the mountains during holidays. A pleasure to drive. I then worked at a Fiat dealer and also drove the coupes. In later years we also had an X 1/9 in a special IN version. It was also very nice to drive.

  6. Unfortunately I didn't have a Fiat 128 at the time, but yes, such a bald Kadett. It also rusted while you were standing next to it… a friend was the lucky owner of a 128 coupé, it drove great…

  7. What I have always found a nice variant was the Zastava 1100 from Yugoslavia.

    The Serbs had transformed the sedan into a convenient five-door. Or maybe it was an Italian design, I don't know.

    What I do know is that it was called the Zastava 101, but that Peugeot put a stop to it on the EEC market. So it was for sale here as Zastava 1100. They sold quite well.

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  8. In any case, the 128 was a very nice car. The technique was tested in the Autobianchi Primula, which has now become quite rare. And when you consider that a 128 was cheaper than a bare Kadett or somewhat boring Escort, you understand that they sold well. With rust treatment, of course, because Italian iron was then regarded as having a limited shelf life.

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