MYTH BUSTER

De­bunk­ing the most com­mon old wives’ tales

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - This Week -

FIAT 127 1 THE FIRST 127 WAS A PI­O­NEER­ING SU­PER­MINI

Most main­stream Euro­pean car mak­ers were of­fer­ing a su­per­mini by the mid 1970s. These com­pact, four-seater fam­ily cars took the best of the trans­verse, front-wheel drive tech­nol­ogy found in Bri­tain’s rev­o­lu­tion­ary Mini and in­stalled it in to a more spa­cious and ver­sa­tile bodyshell. The 127 was cer­tainly in at the start in terms of its pack­ag­ing and front-wheel drive. But the 1971 launch model had a bootlid not a hatch­back, de­spite its ‘two-box’ pro­file. Fiat hastily gave its new baby a tail­gate a year later.

2 IT WAS A BRAND NEW DE­SIGN

The 127 was ac­tu­ally a canny mish­mash of hard­ware from other Fiat cars. Its front-wheel driv­e­train had been around in lim­ited num­bers in the Au­to­bianchi Prim­ula/A112 since 1964 and its plat­form was an abridged ver­sion of the Au­to­bianchi-de­rived Fiat 128 sa­loon’s. As for the 903cc four-cylin­der wa­ter-cooled en­gine, that was an up­dated and im­proved ver­sion of the mo­tor used in the Fiat 850 sa­loon. What­ever its prove­nance, how­ever, the 127 was an ex­cel­lent lit­tle car, with gen­uinely fan­tas­tic road­hold­ing and ride.

3 A TRUE TRENDSETTER, THEN?

That’s some­thing that would be hotly con­tested by fans of the Re­nault 5. The 127 was pop­u­lar but the Re­nault 5 out­sold it by more than a mil­lion ex­am­ples. The 5 was be­hind the curve in one way, in that its en­gine sat in the con­ven­tional, in-line po­si­tion, driv­ing its front-wheels. Yet its in­te­rior felt roomier than the 127’s, and it had the ben­e­fit of a hatch­back third door that opened down to sill level – get­ting a heavy suit­case into a 127 meant heft­ing it over a high lip. Giles Chap­man

127 was a clever and pop­u­lar parts­bin spe­cial, but ri­vals still out­sold it.

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