27 April 2016
1974 Fiat 127 Deluxe
Why We Like It
If you want ‘what’s that?’ rarity, you should be tempted by what was once one of Europe’s biggest-sellers. The trail-blazing 127 was a mild riot to drive and practical with it. This apparently exceptional, rust-free Fiat (shock) survivor appears to need little and has wonderful orange upholstery to up the nostalgia. Find it here on ebay
What is it?
Fiat’s trend-setting 1971 127 was the first supermini of the sort we’re so familiar with today, from Fiesta to Corsa to Clio. It was a well-sorted machine whose revvy engines and crisp handling provided a great drive, but it was as rust-prone as a shabby fishing trawler.
Which is why the example you see here is so rare.
The seller claims that there’s no rust, that this Fiat has never been welded, doesn’t need any and is ‘rock solid’. It was apparently Ziebart rust-proofed when new, the sticky black gloop appearing to have done its job. Recently recommissioned, it has a fresh MoT.
Front ¾ view
Another reason for this car’s survival is that it has had only one owner for almost its entire life. It was laid up in 1994 having been ‘correctly stored’ according to the
seller, who says that the ‘owner really did a good job of keeping it ‘.
The vendor bought it this year ‘because I always wanted a ‘70s Fiat to add to my collection’ and has recommissioned the car, replacing all the serviceable items, as well as the brake calipers, their hoses and the steering rack.
According to the seller the car still wears its original beige paintwork, including a modest dent to the offside front wing. His view is that this should be left as it is and we agree – it’s part of the history of the car, an attempted repair potentially spoiling the paint. The seller also notes faded pinstripes along the Fiat’s flanks, which are not original – we’d probably remove them.
The 127’s modest array of chrome suffers only light pitting in places the seller says, adding that all the lights function and that the remaining exterior trim is in good shape. The door mirror is an aftermarket item, while one of the opening rear side windows (a Deluxe feature) sports a period clamp-on aerial, which supplies an equally period radio. Apparently the driver’s door check-strap is missing, which may prove a challenge, possibly satisfying, to source.
Rear ¾ view of passenger side
Several non-standard items underline the fastidiousness of this Fiat’s first owner. There are mudflaps - although it would be sensible to look for corrosion under the mounting points of each – plastic door protectors and reversing lights. This angle reveals that this 127 has a bootlid rather than the hatch that came a year after launch, making it rarer still.
The seller says that he’s had the wheels powder-coated in the correct shade of cream, and shod with a quality set of tyres. The refurbished spare wheel wears its original rubber, he adds.
The 127’s neatly appealing lines are evident here, the then-trendy rectangular headlights echoing the shape of its grille. The chrome surround on this car’s grille appears to have a gap in it, but the rest of the Fiat’s nose appears to be in excellent shape, with no evidence of stone-chipping. The front numberplate looks original – this was the first year when white and yellow plates were mandated – and the wipers retain their chrome blade carriers, unusual for a car of this period. There’s also an old tax disc in the screen.
The 127’s fastback rear end clearly lent itself to a hatch, but this car has the rarer boot, which may well have meant that the body structure was stiffer. We suspect that the reversing lamps are the universal Morris Minor/Lucas type. Again, there’s evidently very little wrong with this aspect of the car, although the seller says that the boot is difficult to open
The cabin of this Fiat looks no more than two years old in these pictures, the wonderful orange, cloth-faced seats saved apparently from fade and staining with covers. The correct rubber floor-matting looks excellent, as do the door cards and the main facia moulding. Fiat interiors were better finished and more robust than most during this period.
The dashboard looks to be in excellent condition, the limited array of controls it presents all said to be functioning. The steering wheel appears to have a few marks on it, the Fiat badge could do with centering and the black heater controls have faded to grey, but this interior would be hard to better. The 74,077 miles on the odometer are said to be genuine.
The engine bay is lightly and authentically grubby, and would doubtless respond well to detailing. The 903cc engine’s battery, distributor cap, plugs, plug leads and points are all new, and there’s fresh coolant in the expansion tank. The freshly powder-coated spare shows up the air cleaner lid corrosion, but apart from some rust stains around the bonnet prop there’s no corrosion apparent, and the jack is present. The tools should be packed into a small grey plastic case in the boot, although the seller doesn’t mention this.
The car ‘runs well, but needs using more to allow it to free up nicely as it was stood for 22 years,’ says the seller.
There appears to be extensive evidence of the car’s mileage with past MoTs present along with the handbook pack and Zeibart documents. There’s no mention of what servicing it had before its 1994 lay-up, but that may be present. The owner concludes that ‘it's not a concours car nor is it a restored car - it's better than that, it's a genuine one owner survivor car that's been left exactly as it should be.’
Assuming it measures up in the flesh – and the signs are that it will – we completely agree.
1971-83 (Mk 1, 2 and 3)
Make and model:
Fiat 127 De Luxe
four cyls, 903cc
46 lbs ft
0 - 62mph:
How many left:
(Fiat 127 Mk1): 12 taxed, 9 SORN