TURIN. Few people may recall it,
but thirty years ago, in 1971, one of the most important economy
car in Fiat history was born: the 127. This model was important
not only because it was produced, up to 1987, in 3,700,000 specimens
or because it was awarded the prize of "Car of the Year"
in 1972, but mainly because it was one of the first front-wheel
drive cars of Fiat group (after Autobianchi Primula of 1964 and
Fiat 128 of 1969).
Still 127 was also a symbol of the Italian skill to design, plan and build small cars, since the American Lee Jacocca, one of the most important managers in world car history, revealed in the eighties that the first version of Ford Fiesta was conceived virtually cribbing the127.
The two-boxes car designed by Pio Manzù (a prematurely deceased young designer of Fiat Style Center) give evidence, amongst other things, of a stylistic research which began to think also of a stream-lined coachwork aimed to mass production cars, and also of a purity of style still perceivable today, for instance, in the tail and in the satisfaying ratio between panel and glass.
At first the 127 was built with a boot door, which already in 1972, in the "3 doors", became a wide tailgate to make the access to the luggage boot easier. This is absolutely common in today's two-boxes cars, but then wasn't so usual. The 127, in its 16-years story, saw three main series and about twenty versions and variants: amongst these a 5-doors, a station wagon which, among the others, gave origin to the van Fiorino, to a Sport and "Rustica" version: a strange 2WD that "should look like" a 4WD, and which, in its interior fitting confirmed, unfortunately, its name. The 127 had a launching price of 920,000 liras, about 15 millions of today (7.700 n.d.r.) and it was rather comfortable, at least compared with the standards of those decades. It had also a good maximum load, both in normal setting, both in that, rather unusual at that time, with the rear seat lowered. The 127 was rather "modern" for the period in which was conceived and turned out and this is confirmed, finally, by its mechanicals. The structure of suspension, brakes and steering gear was indeed borrowed from the new Fiat 128 and only the engine, at the beginning, derived from the old Fiat 850: a 4-cylinders engine of 903 cc by 47 HP, combined to a four-speed gearbox that anyway was continually revised and had a decorous career. Nevertheless on 127 were assembled also a 1,050 cc engine by 70 HP (for the Sport model of 1978) and a very noisy Diesel 1301 cc by 45 HP. Moreover, since it was built also in Brasil, (apart from Spanish Seat and Yugoslavian Zastava) even a sugar cane alcohol-propelled engine.