Love this driventowrite.com series comparing the design and life of the Austin Maxi and Fiat 128. Although they were not direct competitors (the 128 is more 1100 sized) the similarities, of both cars and design history, are remarkable.
- 128 v. Maxi Part 1 : Last Tango of the Titans
- 128 vs Maxi Part 2 : Function over Form
- 128 vs Maxi Part 3 : Spring Song
- 128 vs Maxi Part 4: The Racehorse and the Donkey
- Continuing our meditation on the Austin Maxi and Fiat 128
If you drive a front wheel drive car today it is essentially a copy of the layout and technology mix established by the Fiat 128:
"In the numerous new standards it set, the Fiat 128 was quite exceptional. Like so many noteworthy Fiats, it was also utterly commonplace. That is part of the paradox which has made Fiat from time to time one of the greatest names in the industry. When next you climb into your Vauxhall or VW, your Renault or Rover, remember where the principles originated, just half-a-lifetime ago."
LJK Setright: Happy birthday to a remarkable, but long-forgotten Fiat - www.independent.co.uk - Published: 16 March 2004
I owned a 1979 Fiat 128 Bello 1300 from 1989-1995. I loved driving it; a combination of a lovely revy engine, slick manual shift, closed spaced (for heel n toe) pedals and reasonably precise, if heavy parking, unassisted steering. For a sedan it was remarkably versatile; I could put my 12-speed road bike in the boot, lid closed.
Although mechanically robust it was prone to rust thanks to a combination of Italian steel and woeful rust protection in the local assembly plant. It was that, rather than dissatisfaction with driving it, which made me trade it on an Uno.
For some reason the only photo I have found (from the days of film/slide) and scanned is this terrible shot in the evening gloom. Doesn't do the glorious 70s Tangerine paint any justice at all.