Where did the time go? It’s been two months since we got back from our European vacation, and I still haven’t written up all the cars I shot, especially Rosemma’s Autobianchi A112. I’ve long wanted to find and write up what is one of the most charming small cars that followed the original Mini; in fact, it really is very authentic successor to that iconic little car. And when I heard that Rosemma, the caretaker/relative of my sister in-law husband’s family house in the Piedmont, owns and drives one, I asked her to bring it around so that I could see it and share it with you all. She was most happy to oblige.
Rosemma lives in a house attached to the other side of the one we stayed in, in this typical family compound. She’s 82, but looks and has the energy of someone ten years younger. And every night at eight, she served us a multi-course dinner accompanied by local wine, and of course, lively conversation.
I didn’t get all of the details, but this is Rosemma’s third A112, bought used in 1996. And it’s probably here final one, as they’re not exactly easy to come by anymore.
The A112 debuted in 1969, using a shortened Fiat 128 platform. In turn, the A112’s platform then went on to underpin the Fiat 127. It has a wheelbase all of 80.2″ (2038 mm), coincidentially exactly the same as the Ur-Mini, and an overall length of 127.2″, or about six inches longer. But thanks to its more upright stance, it looks and feels more substantial than the Mini, and its interior room reflects that too.
The A112 used the OHV four as used in the Fiat 850 family, originally with 903 cc, and later with 965, 982 and 1050 cc versions. The A112 also got an analogue to the Mini’s Cooper S version, in the form of the A112 Abarth. It arrived in 1971, with a high-output version of the 982 cc engine, with twin carbs, headers and all the other requisite goodies to make 58 hp. Starting in 1975, engine size was increased to 1050 cc, and power was upped to 70 hp. Weighing only 1540 lbs (700kg), it was a veritable pocket rocket.
Rosemma’s baby is a sixth series version, which means it has the 965 cc four. The A112’s predecessor, the Primula, pioneered the transmission in-line with the engine FWD configuration that soon become ubiquitous, and is essentially universal today for transverse engine FWD cars.
The dash, along with other details, were modified of the A112’s long production run, which ran close to twenty years.
I didn’t get a chance to check out rear seat room, but I’m guessing it’s a bit on the cozy side.
Its shape and design was very advanced for 1969, which kept it from looking obsolete for a long time. It developed a loyal following, as Rosemma’s loyalty shows. It makes a perfect city car for the crowded narrow streets.
The big plastic bumpers don’t do much for the looks, but are perfect for parking, which is often done by the bump and feel method.
Nephew Aidan, who loves vintage cars and is a lover of anything from the 80s, was right at home in the A112. He’s like to take it back home with him.
I Thanked Rosemma for sharing her beloved bambino with us all, and watched her drive back around to her house, where it sits in a snug little garage. Ciao!