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Fiat 128 vier sy vyftig jaar

Deur Daantjie Badenhorst.

In 1969 het Fiat vir die eerste keer ‘n voorwiel-aangedrewe model op die mark gebring; die Fiat 128. Hierdié model was só gewild dat hy tot in 1985 in sy oorspronklike vorm vervaardig is, terwyl modelle wat ook op hom gebaseer was, tot in 2008 op die mark gebly het.

Die 128 was die plaasvervanger vir die suksesvolle Fiat 1100, wat reeds teen die einde van die 1950’s bekend gestel is, maar benewens hul enjin-kapasiteit het die Fiat 1100 en Fiat 128 niks gemeen gehad nie. Die Frait 128 was die begin van ‘n radikale nuwe rigting vir dié Italiaanse vervaardiger en was die tweede model, na die 124, wat die Europese Motor van die Jaar-titel gewen het. Die 128-reeks het aanvanklik uit ‘n tweedeur- en vierdeur-sedan bestaan; hulle was aanvanklik net met ‘n 1 100 cc-enjin beskikbaar.

Destyds moes Suid-Afrika lank wag voordat nuwe modelle hier bekendgestel is en met die 128 was dit nie anders nie en Suid-Afrika het eers in Julie 1971 met die 128 kennis gemaak.  Intussen het Fiat die 128-koepee oorsee bekend gestel; hierdie model het aanvanklik net twee deure gehad, maar in 1975 is hy vervang deur die 3P (drie deure), wat ‘n luikrug gehad het. Hierdie modelle is nie in Suid-Afrika bekend gestel nie. Die eerste toe-voeging tot die plaaslike 128-reeks was die 1100-stasiewa, wat aan die begin van 1973 bekend gestel is. Terselfdetyd is die reeks ook uitgebrei met die bekend-stelling van die 1 300-sedan met twee of vier deure. Dit was egter nie lank voordat die hele 128-reeks detail-veranderinge ondergaan het nie, onder meer ‘n nuwe Fiat-kenteken en ‘n nuwe instrumente-paneel en stuurwiel. Die 1 100-stasiewa is met ‘n 1300 vervang. Nog twee nuwe modelle is in 1974 bygevoeg. Die paneelwa is op die stasiewa gebaseer, maar het net ‘n 1 100cc-enjin gekry.

Die ander nuwe model was egter eie aan Suid-Afrika. Hoewel die Rally reeds oorsee beskikbaar was, het die Suid-Afrikaanse weergawe ‘n belangrike verskil gehad. Dit was die eerste, en enigste, 128 Rally met ‘n vierdeur-bakwerk. Die Rally kon van sy stalmaats onderskei word deur middel van voorste stampers wat net om die hoeke gestrek het, ‘n middelste voorste “stamper” waarop die misligte gemonteer is, ronde agterligte en, aan die binnekant, ‘n sportiewe stuurwiel en ‘n instrumente-paneel wat ‘n toereteller ingesluit het.

Die reeks het onveranderd gebly tot in 1977 toe ‘n reeks veranderinge aangebring is wat só groot was dat die nuwe reeks byna as ‘n nuwe geslag beskou kon word. Die 1 100-vierdeur sedan is aan die mark onttrek en ‘n nuwe model, die 1 300 C (vir Comfort) is bygevoeg. Die belangrikste verskil was dat die 1 300 C materiaal-sitplekke met kopstutte gehad het.  Die reeks het ‘n splinternuwe voor-en agteraansig gekry, asook ‘n nuwe paneel-bord, maar meganies was daar geen verskil nie. Die hele reeks se brandstof-tenk is van 38 na 46 liter vergroot. In 1978 is drie nuwe modelle bygevoeg; die Jet Set was die heel eerste motor in sy marksegment wat lug-versorging as standaard toerusting gehad het. Die Rally is opnuut bekend gestel, maar sy stilering was meer “uitspattig” as voorheen met die toevoeging van strepe en druk-vlerke wat die vorige model nie gehad het nie. Die groot nuus was egter ‘n rewoulusionêre nuwe model; die eerste bakkie met voorwiel-aandrywing op die Suid-Afrikaanse mark. Dit het ‘n rukkie geduur voordat ander vervaardigers Fiat se voorbeeld gevolg het, maar die Volkswagen Golf-gebaseerde bakkie in 1981 het dadelik gewild geword onder kopers wat ‘n bakkie vir ontspanning eerder as werk gebruik het. In 1980 het Fiat besluit om aan die Suid-Afrikaanse mark te onttrek, maar Alfa Romeo het voort-gegaan om die 128-bakkie in Suid-Afrika te vervaardig terwyl dié maatskappy se handelaars-netwerk hom versprei het. In 1982 is die 128-sedan egter weer in beperkte getalle ingevoer. Dié model het as die Citicar bekend gestaan, en die groot verskil was egter dat sy brandstof-tenk net 38 liter gehou het. Toe Alfa Romeo die volgende jaar besluit het om eerder die Daihatsu Charade in Suid-Afrika te vervaardig en te bemark, is die 128 Citicar aan die Suid-Afrikaanse mark onttrek. Die bakkie is tot in 1985 in Suid-Afrika vervaardig; totdat Alfa Romeo besluit het om Suid-Afrika te verlaat.

Daar was egter een Fiat 128-gebaseerde model wat nie eens in Italië beskikbaar was nie, maar wat tog in die hele Europa bekend gestel is. Zastava was een van verskeie Oos-Europese vervaardigers wat ooreenkomste met Fiat aangegaan het vir die vervaardiging van hul produkte in destydse Kommunistiese lande; Lada van Rusland en FSO van Pole was twee van die ander. Zastava se 128-gebaseerde model was egter uniek in die sin dat dit ‘n samevoeging van die neus, binneruim en meganiese onderdele van die 128 met ‘n luikrug-bakwerk gekombineer het. Hierdie reeks is tot in 2003 vervaardig.

Dit was die einde van ‘n modelreeks wat ‘n groot invloed op die internasionale motorbedryf gehad het en gelei het tot die bekendstelling van ander suksesvolle Fiat-modelle soos die Fiat 127 in 1971 en die Panda in 1980.

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