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.
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.
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.
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.
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.