Small Sport – 1974 Fiat 128

Against its other competitors of the time – Golf/Polo, Renault 5 – the Fiat 128 always seems the sporting pick of the bunch. Yes, it’s not terribly fast, and it’s not the most solidly built, but it’s probably the most fun, engaging drive. And sure, you could write that off to the nonsense that every Italian car is part Ferrari – they aren’t, which you’d know if you’d ever driven a Lancia Beta sedan – but in the case of the 128, it does seem to have more spark than your average 1970s econobox. Aside from great handling and a lively engine, they also have some of the most comfortable seats of the time. With that, let’s check out this 1974 Fiat 128 for sale for $1500 in Bois D’Arc, France MO. Thanks to reader Eli, the seller of the car, for this submission.

1974 Fiat 128 right front

It looks surprisingly solid from this angle, with some minor rust spots in non-structural areas. However, looking at typical rust spots like the window surrounds, rockers, and similar places that spell the end for many 128s, this one is unafflicted. The seller originally purchased the car in 2011 in Salt Lake City and towed it home, but subsequently got married and sold the car. It returned to him late last year, and he’s worked on it a bit, but it’s time for it to move along.

1974 Fiat 128 left rear

Tires were new 5 years ago, with few miles on them, and the car comes with all the trim from a 1972 car. For an extra $200, my friend, that includes bumpers, as the factory units for 1974 look out of place, as if they were sourced from some other car. There’s been a minor mishap behind the grill, as made evident by bent sheet metal. The car is running and driving, has new soft brake lines, good glass, and a decent dashboard with minimal cracking.

1974 Fiat 128 engine

On the downside, the car needs a new passenger side rear hard line, some attention to various spots of surface rust, the mess around the steering column, new fuel line, and the rear bench is out. However, the seller is planning to work on the brake line, fuel line, and dash this weekend, so perhaps that’ll be done before you buy. Front seats are a non-matching brown, but that should be the least of your worries with a 42-year-old project car.

1974 Fiat 128 interior

Disregarding the steering column business, the interior looks really good for a 128 – minimal cracking on the dash as stated, and all gauges and even the factory AM radio present. Faux wood is also in good shape, and the seats show no tears. The steering wheel appears to be from a 124, and it’s not clear if the rear seat is simply out but included, or not even available. For a vintage driver, the punch list on this one seems pretty short – would take it on? Contact Eli through the ad, or use the contact form to be put in touch.

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3 Responses to “Small Sport – 1974 Fiat 128”

  1. Dave Says:

    This one looks like it’s worth a weekend or two to get back into solid running shape. This one looks good in all the bad places, and the current owner seems like just the right kind of seller: “Consider it on the way to or from being a basket case.”

    It’s nice to see a survivor. FIATs were not uncommon during my (our?) youth but they’re rare now. It’s a pleasure to see one again. I’ve never driven one but I’ll bet they’re entertaining little cars.

    FIATs tended to have a very short lifespan up here in the rust belt, along with many other charming English & Japanese economy models. They were also bedeviled by the Euro ownership cycle. An enthusiast buys one new and keeps it in excellent running shape. Years later it gets handed down to a child with limited means. If a major mechanical problem didn’t kill it, the rust usually did.

  2. C S Says:

    Wait. What? An engine from a Yugo? Is there a reason you wouldn’t mention that?

    • Chris Keen Says:

      Oops! Not much reason to mention it though, no change in capacity and it’s still carbureted, though that depends on whether this car started with an 1100 or 1300 (the cutoff was 1974), so you may have lost a handful of hp. The only plus is it’s newer and perhaps cleaner…

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