Not only Saab had the CombiCoupe on offer. In the 1970s, a number of brands followed the trend. Just as the SUV and crossover wave is rolling incessantly today, there was this mixture of station wagon and coupe, which, however, was considerably more tasteful than the ubiquitous SUV design marathon.
Sometimes even a real coupe had to die for the combi-coupé passion. In Turin they showed no mercy with the fairly successful 128 series. The shapely sports coupé was discontinued in 1975 - and replaced by the Fiat 128 berlinetta. The berlinetta wrote Fiat in lower case and invented the term combi-limousine-coupé for the Teutonic friends who live north of the Alps. That's pretty bulky.
But also quite German. Because only here can you manage to string words together endlessly and form a new concept from them.
With the Fiat 128, Turin introduced front-wheel drive
Fiat launched the 128 series in the spring of 1969. It gives an impression of why the Turin group was so successful at the time. As with Saab in Sweden, Fiat now also relied on front-wheel drive. The 128, which was not only supposed to be available as a sedan, but also as a coupé and the station wagon version called Familiare, was also incredibly progressive in other respects.
Fiat gave the 128 individually suspended wheels all round, with MacPherson struts and wishbones at the front and a self-stabilizing system of damper struts and trapezoidal wishbones at the rear. At this point in time, the Fiat competitors continued to rely on rigid axles. Saab even for more than 30 years.
The front engine with overhead camshaft and toothed belt was designed by Aurelio Lampredi, who had come to Fiat from Ferrari and the one with the Lampreys engines shaped the group's range of drives well into the late 90s. The 128 was considered a highly modern car, the front-wheel drive and the modern chassis gave it fantastic road holding for its time.
For this reason, it is no surprise that the 128 became a fixture in rallying and positively influenced the image of the brand.
The Fiat 128 puts the German manufacturers to shame
It is actually shameful that no German work has managed to achieve such a feat so far, judged the Hessischer Rundfunk in a test in 1969 (Video). Because the 128 was modern, sporty - and only cost about as much as a VW Beetle, which was hopelessly outdated in comparison.
In 1975 Fiat took the Sport Coupé out of the program - and replaced it with the 128 berlinetta and the X 1/9. The X 1/9, a sporty, uncompromising two-seater became the Italian Love Affair for people with petrol in their veins, the berlinetta was the family-friendly compromise between sporty elegance and high variability.
The Fiat 128 berlinetta
The berlinetta, written in lowercase, naturally wore prestigious double headlights at the front, and delighted with a sporty but simple interior. Above all, she inspired with a dynamic rear end, which somehow gave an idea of Ferrari. As with the Saab 99 CombiCoupe (Link) the Fiat offered plenty of space and up to 1.000 liters of loading space.
Fiat had once again made a big splash, the brand had a compact everyday car with Italian elegance in the style of famous GT cars for normal earners in its range.
The company's slogan, cars with wit and sense, says a lot about the thinking at the time. Both the former and the latter are missing in today's cars. Wit and reason are neither suitable for advertising nor are they in any way trendy.
And the Fiat 128 berlinetta is also absorbed in this world. Where is the berlinetta? Because fewer than a handful of copies are for sale across Europe.
- Sequel follows -