Rise & Decline – 1978 Fiat 128 Sedan

With the support of the compact 128 sedan, Fiat sales rose above 100,000 in 1975. However, lax build quality, poor resistance to corrosion, and poorly-trained mechanics all led to Fiat’s demise in North America, and they pulled out in 1983. At this point, you’d expect the survivors are mostly the mid-week cars that were the best-assembled. However, being cheap cars, there are still some about that need work, and being old cars, there are some that have sat for ages and need attention. This seems to be the case for this 1978 Fiat 128 sedan for sale for $2800 in Elmhurst, IL.

1978 Fiat 128 left front

The price is awfully close to the one being asked for the 1971 Fiat 128 sedan featured here, with the more attractive earlier styling and in better condition. Of course, today’s car is here in the US already. For some reason certain sellers are not able to get the whole car into one picture – and that’s one thing with an Eldorado, but this is just a little Fiat sedan. It’s said to run and drive, and to have new tires, which makes it a good candidate for a rolling restoration. While it looks to be largely rust- and dent-free, it does have some surface rust, splits in the seat seams, a hideous aftermarket mirror, and is missing at least one piece of door trim.

1978 Fiat 128 interior

The blue interior is nice, and those look like the most comfortable chairs to be found in any car of its class. It all looks complete, and with any luck, the original heat-stitched vinyl can be resewn. In the pro column, it also has a rebuilt carburetor, and a new starter, points, and condenser. Hopefully the owner has spent some time driving it and can give an idea of its condition. Given the rarity of these cars, if you live in a non-smog-testing state, this would be pretty appealing as a running, driving project. Where would you go first? Cosmetic restoration to bring things up to snuff on what might actually be a 48,000 mile car? Or twin carbs, headers, and suspension/brake modifications to make it into a little back road rocket?


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