1972 and 1979 Fiat 128s

Update 06/29/09: It’s baaack! The 1979 128 4-door is up on craigslist for $650 this time. I think you could pick this up in the low hundreds, put a few hundred into it and have a fun ride. There’s also a 1973 up in Susanville, CA for $1200, so for under $2000 you could have your own “fleet” of 128s.

Well, we’re back with one of my favorite car nationalities again – Italian! The thing I love about Italian cars is that even the dinkiest, most humble of models has a sporty feeling to it… and this isn’t just hyperbole, I’ve driven some pretty cheap Italian cars. Fiat 128s are a prime example of this. The great thing is, thanks to the much longer production lives of their brother and cousin, the X1/9 and Yugo, it should be easy enough to get parts and upgrade the powertrain if you so desire, and for not much scratch. What’s more is, this car featured a significant jump in technology: unequal-length driveshafts so the engine and transmission could be placed side-by-side. As usual, the earlier cars are preferable for their chrome-bumper aesthetics and smog-exempt status, but much like my beta, they’re so unusual that if you’re interested and you happen to find one, you should snatch it up before it, um, disappears into a pile of iron oxide. That’s the burden of being an inexpensive Italian car from that decade.

In a stunning turn of events, there are actually 2 (!!) listed, not including the pricey one over near Boston. What’s more is, we have a choice of 2 of the 3 bodystyles sold: 2-door or 4-door. Our first subject is a 1972 2-door in Denver, CO for $2500.

1972 Fiat 128


This car has had substantial work done to it, including recent rust repairs, engine work, and an electronic distributor. It comes on a set of vintage Momos and with many spares and documentation. The only catch (there’s always a catch) is the need for paint, and a bit of smoke on start-up. Unfortunately, with only one picture it’s hard to judge the condition, but if this car were closer to home I’d want to put it to work in some mountain touring.

The second 128 on the market is a burgundy 1979 4-door in San Jose, CA for $900.

1979 Fiat 128

This car has been sitting for several years, awaiting a repair to its fuel system. However, before it was laid up about 10 years ago, the transmission, clutch, and front suspension were all gone through. It also comes with a spare Weber carb. My short assessment on this one – if you showed up with cash, probably even a few hundred less than asking, you might walk away with this car. And I say “walk” because with fuel-pump relay issues, you’ll have your work cut out for you!

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2 Responses to “1972 and 1979 Fiat 128s”

  1. aaron Says:

    I emailed about the ’79 in San Jose. It sounds like an honest car and would be kind of a steal for a vintage Italian sedan…it if were 4 years older. But being a ’79 model this car is not smog exempt, so I can very easily imagine a nightmarish and expensive process trying to get it registered.

  2. Chris Keen Says:

    Yeah, that’s what I was thinking too. On the other hand, for that kind of money… my experience so far has been if you run it lean enough and throw a cat on there, it’ll pass.

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