I have no experience of the Fiat 125S but I have just completed 30,000 miles in the normal 125 and I can say that it is the most reliable car that I have ever owned. Apart from routine servicing, the recommended replacement of the camshaft belt drive at 26,000 and two new sets of disc pads the only attention that has been required has been to cure a slight chatter on the gear-lever when in second and a squirt of WD40 on the under-bonnet light switch. The free-revving engine has never failed to produce full power and I use 6,000 r.p.m. as a matter of course. I am greatly impressed by the brakes the performance of which has never altered in the smallest degree since new. I have got to change a bulb and I do not think there is a detail on this very well appointed car that does not function as well as when new.
When new my car had cross-ply tyres which wore rapidly and I did not like the slight lurch as the car reacted to road camber. I fitted Konis all round and also Pirelli Cinturatos which improved matters enormously, and the wear on these tyres after 27,000 miles is normal and even. Petrol consumption varies between 26 and 32 m.p.g. according to driving mood and I use about a pint of Castrol GTX every 1,500 miles.
I agree with you that the back end is not very clever and the steering dead and sluggish when, for example, using the car to practise a Continental hill-climb but on long main road journeys the directional stability and imperviousness to side winds makes for very relaxed comfortable driving. Judging by the way Italians seem to keep their 125s at 6,000 r.p.m. for hours on end I feel certain that my car will be as good as it is now after another 30,000 miles. In fact I have just sold it to a friend and one has to be pretty confident to do that! You would imagine the logical successor would be a 125S and I gave it a lot of thought but i.r.s. seemed important and as the 130 is still rather too new a model for my liking I have decided on the Peugeot 504 with fuel injection engine.
I am often asked why I favour foreign cars, and I can only answer that I like a car that is comprehensively equipped in the first place, with comfortable fully adjustable seats, that never rattles or leaks and from which nothing falls off even after hundreds of miles on unmade roads with a gross overload. Admittedly I did not put my Fiat to this test but on my last two Peugeots I have been astounded by what they will endure and how they always come up smiling and running as smooth as silk—even with 90,000 on the clock. I suppose this is because on the Continent people do not buy a car to pamper it but to own it as an indestructible means of transport to go anywhere in comfort at high speeds in all weather under all conditions and if, as I believe your Continental Correspondent once mentioned to me, there is an occasional desire to tow a full-grown cow in a trailer at 70 m.p.h.—Why not? What’s a car for?