Curbside Recycling: 1977 Fiat 128 3p – In Case You Missed It

A large number of the Curbside recycling posts come from Colorado, thanks to Jim Klein’s frequent visits to our local yards. However, Jim missed this Fiat from an Aurora yard, so I’ve stepped to the plate.

As it turns out, many people have missed this version of the Fiat 128- Few were sold in the US, and very few remain on the ground 44 years later.

As an aside, I went to the junkyard to gather some Turbo II engine parts for my 1984 Chrysler Laser XT, seen here. The donor car was the barely visible silver Dodge Daytona present in the top image. I hope to run the Laser at Bandimere Speedway next summer, so the plan is to have it up and running by Spring 2022. As time goes on, I’ll share more on this fine Chrysler G-body (the XT stands for eXtra Tasty).

At first glance, I thought the Fiat was a 1st Gen Ford Fiesta (another good CC find), but these unique tail lights clearly identify it as the rarest of Fiat 128s. This hatchback version of the 128 arrived in North America for a brief run in 1976. Looking very similar to the 128 SL Coupe, it never sold in significant numbers and was replaced by the Strada in February of 1979.

Under hood, typical Fiat 128. The spare tire is missing, but the running gear appears unmolested. I didn’t look too closely, but it also appears someone pulled apart the HVAC box in the upper right hand corner, leaving just the heater core. The lack of an A/C evaporator or any A/C plumbing reminds me that Fiat did not offer factory A/C on the 128.

Looking at the stick shift in the interior, I’m also reminded the 128 never came with an automatic transmission. The rest of the interior embraces this minimalist approach. Of course, the European automotive aficionados argue this provides a focused, driver centric experience, and who am I to argue?

Using a tradition started by Jim, I closed the hood and doors before leaving to create this “beauty” shot.

I’d like to include more insight on this rare CC, but I didn’t get much exposure to Fiats back in their heyday. A friend’s brother did own one back in high school, but I never even rode in it. He greatly enjoyed the driving experience, but found out about the 30,000 mile timing belt service interval the hard way. A bit stereotypical, but that’s how it went.

Still, the 128 offered a tidy package and Fiat remains a powerhouse in the European market. Comparing this little hatchback to other models available in 1977, I’m surprised Fiat never gained any traction in the US.

For more detailed information on the 3p, check out Paul’s Vintage Road & Track Review from August, 1976.