FIAT 128 Saloon
Generations Timeline, Specs and Pictures
It was a revolutionary car for the masses.
It was the car that changed the way the vehicles were built, with a front-wheel-drive arrangement and transverse engines. Moreover, it was a daily driver for Enzo Ferrari.
The 128 was not the first front-wheel-drive vehicle in the world. There were many before it, but most of them were fitted with longitudinal engines. The engineers tried everything, even to install the gearbox in front of the engine to allow a longer wheelbase. The Italians installed a transverse engine and unequal drive-shafts. To solve the cooling problem, an electric fan was installed and a temperature-triggered relay controlled it.
The 128 design style was similar to its bigger brother, the 124. The boxy style with round headlights was a big step ahead over its predecessor, the Fiat 1100 R. The idea was to build a car shorter than 4.9m (193”) long, but the car-maker didn’t want to shorten the wheelbase and the engine compartment couldn’t be cut. As a result, the trunk area was diminished so the overall length could fit into the management’s requirements.
The interior was decently big for four adults and, due to the lack of a transmission tunnel and the transverse engine, the driving position was moved forward. That led to decent legroom for the rear passengers. The instrument cluster was fitted only with a speedometer, fuel level, and coolant temperature, without a tachometer. That minimalist design was adopted after decades by other car-makers.
The 1.1-liter engine was designed by Antonio Lampredi, who worked for Ferrari as well. It obtained 55 hp from it, resulting in a specific output of 50 hp/liter, which was great for that era. The car was fitted with a 4-speed manual.