The Autobianchi A112 is presented on October 2, 1969. It marks an era in which the application of front-wheel drive and the creation of optimal space is increasingly prominent on the agenda of manufacturers. The Autobianchi A1, which originated from Giacosa's project X2 / 112, is a success. The Italian Supermini, which Gandini also had a hand in, will be built over eight generations for seventeen years.
Fiat - the owner of Autobianchi - has much to fear in the 1960s from the revolutionary Mini, which is being built in Italy by Innocenti. What Autobianchi plays into the card is that it has already gained the necessary experience with front-wheel drive (Primula). It develops - under the supervision of mother Fiat - an improved concept compared to Mini. In a technical, practical and optical sense. The development coincides with that of the Fiat 128, which is also shown to the world in 1969, just like the Autobianchi A111.
903 cc engine, old acquaintance
The A112 gets the 903 cc engine, which descends in a straight line from the Fiat 600 (Tipo 100) power source, and also has domicile in the stern of the Fiat 850 Sport Coupé. It is placed transversely in the front in the A112, and the gearbox is mounted next to it (and not like the Mini below). Initially the engine delivers 44 HP, from 1971 this increases to 47 HP. The luggage compartment is extra accessible due to the installation of a third door, the outer dimensions remain compact, while a lot of space is created on the inside. The chassis includes McPherson and coil springs at the front and a transverse leaf spring at the rear. The wheels are independently suspended. Disc brakes are placed at the front. The entire concept is completed with an elegant bodywork, which receives praise from both the outside and the inside for its excellent finish.
Basis for long production period
The A112 is actually seen as a trailblazer for the Fiat 127 being developed. However, Fiats' testing ground Autobianchi and Fiat itself are surprised by the success of the A112. The sales figures of the luxury little one are immediately good from the launch, the criticism from the press and the users (certainly the handling is praised) are praising. The A112 not only explains the red carpet for the upcoming 127, the initial success is also the basis for a long production period.
Autobianchi expands the A112 range concisely, and also varies with the cylinder contents of the engines. The A1971 Abarth is introduced in 112. The top version gets an 983 cc enlarged engine that delivers 58 PK to the reinforced crankshaft, partly due to the use of a two-stage carburetor. In addition, the A112 Abarth gets a sporty interior and an improved braking system. Despite the hefty pricing, the A112 concept in combination with the sporting (masterful) Abarth specifications proves to be a success. The Abarth evolves over the years with the regular A112, which is also quickly available as a more luxurious Elegant version.
Always adjusted in series
The necessary modifications take place over time in terms of bodywork and motor. From the third series (1975), five people can take a seat in the A112, and the small Autobianchi is also constantly being refined cosmetically. The demand for more power and environmental improvements resulted in the arrival of the 965 cc engine in 1977, which has only one horsepower more than the old 903cc engine: 48 HP. The basic engine has already been adapted earlier, its power drops from 1975 to 42 HP. The Abarth is now also available with the 70 HP supplying 1.050 cc power source, while the 983 cc power source of the top model is being phased out.
Sold as Lancia and the arrival of the Nuova A112
From 1977 it is sold as Lancia in various countries. That is the result of the decision of mother Fiat to transfer Autobianchi to Lancia. 1977 is also the year of the Nuova A112 (series 4), with the raised roof line. At that time, however, the A112 still has a long future ahead, it will remain in production for a long time. Perhaps the biggest change will take place in 1979 if it is subjected to the application of various plastic elements. Furthermore, the A112 Abarth gets a new five-speed gearbox. The A112 may also welcome the new Elite equipment level (with 965 cc engine), while the Junior will be the basic version from that year.
The A112 has traditionally kept the trim levels for a long time, although the Elegante in 1982 (we are already at the sixth series) is replaced by the LX. In 1985 - after seven generations - most A112 versions are said goodbye. The first Ypsilon (from Lancia) is ready to take over. Nevertheless, the A112 still receives an honorary salute. The Junior (the name for the basic model from 1979) represents the eighth generation solo until 1986, as a discontinuation model. The counter eventually stops at the number of more than 1,2 million copies produced. And that number has not been reached for nothing. Because the charisma of the small A112 is unmatched in its class to this day.