To find this review was a bit of a surprise, as the Fiat 1100R was a rather rare sight in the US at this time. It was the final evolution of the 1100 (“Millecento”) family that first arrived in 1953, and was a huge hit in Europe, offering unprecedented performance, size, comfort and handling in its class. The 1100R was the end of that road, and it was effectively replaced by the all-new 124 in this year. The 124 was as huge a hit in Europe as the 1100 had been, and even made some fairly significant inroads in the US. But the narrow 1100 was a bit more of an outsider. So it’s interesting to read how well this older design held up to the expectations of 1966.
Surprisingly well, it turns out.
On the continent, the 1100 was the ultimate anti-Beetle, with its water cooled four up front turning the rear wheels, and its boxy four door sedan body. Turns out a whole lot of buyers preferred that, and it was even built in Germany as the Neckar in significant numbers. They were an extremely common sight in Austria in the fifties. A family friend had one, and I remember well riding in it. It was considered a upper-middle class car.
Its engine dates back to 1937, but it still had the usual Fiat qualities, including being willing to rev to 6000 rpm. And the handling was commensurate too.
The verdict was that the 1100R still afforded a very pleasurable driving experience for the money, always a high element in the classic Fiat equation.
I don’t think I ever saw a Fiat 1100 in the metal. Then again, in ‘Murican car mountains of Western Pennsylvania, you rare saw anything foreign other than a VW Beetle or Renault Dauphine.
In fact, I don’t think I ever saw a Fiat of any model on the road until the fall of 1968 when I moved to Erie. Which had a dealership just outside of town. In a converted two garage bay gas station with a ‘showroom’ big enough to hold one car, preferably a 500 or 850.
I grew up in Easton, ~50 miles north of Philadelphia. I’m sure I saw some Fiats, including 1100s, around that time.
This reminds me of visiting India in 1988 – an old version of the 1100 was built locally under license as the Premier Padmini and was the default Bombay taxi, so they were everywhere.
In the 70s I visited India a number of times and I am very familiar with the Padimi. They were the default car in all of the south, as the Hindustani Ambassador (Morris Oxford series 3) was in the north. The Standard (Triumph Herald) seemed to be a distant third.
I had many many trips in Premier Padminis taxis in Mumbai around 20 years (!) ago.
If you were feeling flush, you’d pick a blue one, as they had air con. Black and yellow examples, which were more common, did not but were (even) cheaper, even if the fare never seemed to be enough to cover the fuel in western values.
My grade school music teacher had one in dark blue. I was an admirer. My grandfather, who was from Ancona didn’t like the styling though. He called it a “cheesebox.” At the time he owned a 2dr. 1952 Chevrolet Deluxe that he eventually traded for an early Falcon.
I think my teacher had an earlier “D” model. Fun, sporty car with RWD. Just my type.
Doesn’t seem likely that Renault is up to replacing LADA with something simple and rugged. If FIAT were to step in… 1100, 128, 124, keep it simple, keep it cheap, keep it RWD. Could be a worldwide hit? Maybe too many cooks to spoil the broth these days?
The 1100R continued until 1968-9,where its real replacement, the 128,came out.