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The Fiat 127 is a supermini produced by the Italian automaker Fiat between 1971 and 1983. It was introduced in 1971 as the replacement for the Fiat 850. Production of the 127 in Italy ended in 1983 following the introduction of its replacement, the Fiat Uno.

Initially only available as a two-door saloon when launched in April 1971, a three-door hatchback, using an identical body profile but with a full-depth rear door and folding rear seat, was launched the following year This was Fiat's first super-mini-sized hatchback, along with a transverse-engine/front-wheel-drive layout, with the transmission mounted on the end of the engine, both design ideas had been fully trialled since 1964, by Fiat's Autobianchi subsidiary with the Autobianchi Primula and 1969 Autobianchi A112. The 1970 Fiat 128 was the first Fiat badged car to use the same transverse powertrain layout. The 127 used the rugged 903 cc overhead valve engine, that had powered the Autobianchi and, with various cylinder capacities, earlier generations of Fiat cars. The 127 also featured a transverse leaf spring suspension at the rear. The car was one of the first of the modern superminis, and won praise for its utilisation of space (80 percent of the floor space was available for passengers and luggage) as well as its road-holding. It was also the first car fitted with an all-polypropylene bumper on steel support. The 127 was an instant success, winning the European Car of the Year award for 1972, and quickly became one of the best-selling cars in Europe for several years. It was the third Fiat in six years to receive this accolade.

In June 1974, slightly above three years following the model's introduction, Fiat reported that the one millionth 127 had been completed at the Mirafiori plant in Turin. The (in its time) hugely successful Fiat 600 had taken seven years to reach that same milestone.

Series 1

The Series 1 car changed little during its lifetime. However, in May 1973 saloons became available in both standard and de Luxe versions. In 1975 the 127 Special variant was released which featured a restyled front grille and detail changes to the interior. The de Luxe version was differentiated by its reclining front seats and opening hinged rear side windows as standard equipment. During the next couple of years the Fiat 850, which had initially been marketed alongside the 127, was withdrawn from most markets.

Series 2

The Series 2 version of the 127 debuted in 1977. It featured a restyled front and rear, a new dashboard (although almost identical in layout to that of the Series 1), larger rear side windows and a the option of the 1,049 cc engine - uniquely for the 127 this was the "Brazil" engine rather than the Fiat SOHC unit from the 128. The tailgate was extended and now reached nearly to the rear bumper, addressing complaints about the high lip over which luggage had to be lifted for loading into the earlier 127 hatchbacks.

There was also a "high-cube" panel van version, known as the Fiorino which was based on the Series 2 bodyshell, and this remained in production until 1984, when a new Uno-based Fiorino debuted.

In Scandinavia and the Baltic nations it was particularly successful, and there are still many in circulation today.

Series 3

The Series 3 was launched in Italy in January 1982 and soon reached other European markets. It is distinguishable from the Series 2 by a more assertively plastic grille. The addition of a corresponding panel at the rear of the vehicle implied a new 'house style' inspired by the recently introduced Ritmo/Strada range. The car received a completely new dashboard design and interior, again following the design language first seen in the Ritmo. The 1,301 cc Fiat SOHC engine was also introduced as an option for the Series 3.

In nations like Norway, Denmark and Finland it was particularly successful, and there are still many in circulation today.

The 127 was replaced as Fiat's high volume product in this sector by the Fiat Uno in January 1983, though versions manufactured in South America continued in production till 1995: Fiat imported the South American 127 Unificata to Europe, until 1987.

Engines (from 1977)

Engine Cyl. Power Torque
0.9 8V S4 45 PS (33.1 kW; 44.4 hp) 63 N·m (46 lb·ft)
0.9 8V S4 45 PS (33.1 kW; 44.4 hp) 64 N·m (47 lb·ft)
1.05 8V S4 50 PS (36.8 kW; 49.3 hp) 77 N·m (57 lb·ft)
1.05 8V S4 70 PS (51.5 kW; 69.0 hp) 83 N·m (61 lb·ft)
1.3 8V S4 75 PS (55.2 kW; 74.0 hp) 103 N·m (76 lb·ft)

International variants

SEAT 127

As happened with other Fiat models of that era, SEAT made a Spanish version of this car called the SEAT 127. Due to SEAT design policy, a 4-door variant of the car was also produced, as well as a later five-door version. SEAT also produced a unique variant of the 127 OHV engine. This had 1,010 cc instead of 903 cc and produced 50 bhp (37 kW; 51 PS). The four-door SEAT 127 was exported to certain markets with Fiat badging.

When their licence from Fiat expired, SEAT redesigned some parts of the car and created the SEAT Fura Dos. Some design parts of this model were also used in the Ibiza mark 1. SEAT produced 1,238,166 units of the 127 between 1972 and 1984.

Polski Fiat 127p

Fiat 127 was also produced under Fiat license by Polish automobile manufacturers FSO (between 1973 and 1975) and FSM (between 1974 and 1975) under the name Polski Fiat 127p. These were assembled using both Italian and Polish parts. Originally the Polski Fiat 127p was to be produced in large numbers as a people's car, but when it became apparent that it would be about 30% more expensive than the 126p it was decided to concentrate on the latter while the larger 127p was only produced in very small numbers.

Fiat 147

In Brazil the car was known as the Fiat 147 (later Spazio), and a 3-door station wagon version called "Panorama" was also produced there. The Brazilian built versions also utilized a 1.3 L Diesel engine (for export markets only). From 1981 this variant (called a 127) was actually exported to Europe, to be sold alongside the 127 sedans and hatchbacks. A total of 1,169,312 units were built from 9 July 1976 to the end of 1985 in Brazil and 232,807 units were also built in Argentina between 1982 and 1996, as the Fiat 147, Spazio, and Vivace. It was also assembled in the CCA in Colombia. There was also a conventional two-door three-box saloon available, called the Fiat Oggi.

Although the car achieved reasonable selling figures, the model was titled as "low-level" and "not so reliable" by early buyers, because of the fact that Fiat was just starting selling cars in Brazil in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Specials

Italian coachbuilder Moretti made a canvas-topped version in the style of the Renault Rodeo and Citroën Méhari called the "Midimaxi" (to set it apart from the smaller, 126-based Minimaxi). In spite of its rugged appearance, the front-wheel drive underpinnings remained the same.

Movie roles

In the 1986 film Gung Ho, centered on a (fictional) Japanese auto manufacturer reopening a shutdown automobile factory in a fictional western Pennsylvania town, some of the movie's "Assan Motors" cars were Fiat 127s in various stages of completion.

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