Road Impressions

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

Current page

109

Current page

110

Current page

111

Current page

112

Current page

113

Current page

114

Current page

115

Current page

116

Current page

117

Current page

118

Current page

119

Current page

120

The Fiat 132 1800 GLS

Fiat of Turin announced not long ago, through their efficient British publicity people, that they had taken notice of the criticism of those journalists who reported on the Fiat 132, and had carried out certain improvements, and that they would now like this model re-appraised. Well, I did not try the original 132 so I cannot relate earlier opinions to those I formed of the top-version of the 132, the 1800 GLS, which I took away from the impressive Brentwood depot. But, having just survived 4-1/2 hours in a Fiat 126, I was amply primed to enjoy its luxury and comfort!

First, I had to learn something about this high-performance Fiat family saloon. “Fiat”, by Michael Sedgwick, told me that it was the principal novelty from Turin in 1972, but that as a replacement for the 125 which retained both rear-wheel-drive and a live back-axle, it was “regarded in some circles as a retrograde step”.”A new and lower line”, continued Sedgwick “met with a mixed reception, some people considering that the 132’s shape was Japanese-inspired”. But he made it clear that this car, new in April 1972, with its twin-cam engine and optional 5-speed gearbox, promised to be competitive with the British cars, including the new BL six-cylinder f.w.d. 2200 model, and with the single-o.h.c. 2-litre Datsun and Toyota offerings.

That placed the 132 for me. But at first it failed to impress me. The engine tended to hunt and stall in traffic. All manner of irritating minor short-comings became evident, to put me off this well-equipped smart dark blue saloon with its comfortable cloth-upholstered seats and very thorough ventilating system. For instance, while the accelerator was much too heavy and its cranked stalk seemed all too likely to snap off, the disc brakes were over-servo-ed. This made the right leg tired and the left leg flustered, and the high-set accelerator pedal made heel-and-toeing impossible. The throttle also tended to stick, ruining a decent tick over. The central handbrake, which I used when the engine required blipping to prevent it from stalling in London traffic-jams, was impossibly heavy to pull up. The facia-mounted hand throttle cum choke was equally stiff, and there was sometimes a smell of petrol within the car. Although the instruments — speedometer, tachometer, oil pressure gauge, electric clock, and combined heat/fuel gauge, by Veglia—were recessed in the imitation wood panel, they were sometimes difficult or impossible to read, due to reflected light. They were also of three different sizes, but neatly spaced.

Continuing this tale-of-woe, the steering wheel had an uncomfortably thick rim and parking called for considerable effort. Although a facia shelf and door pockets were provided, the under-scuttle cubby had a very awkward catch and one that tended to claw any hands that were thrust into the invisible well. The lid of the very spacious boot flew up when released, hoping to smack you on the chin, a rear door was difficult to open, and the engine was not a particularly prompt commencer from cold. If you switched-off the ignition the brakes almost immediately became ineffective, because there was no reasonable vacuum reserve. Without doing a great deal of reading of other people’s magazines I do not know whether, in putting right earlier complaints, Fiat have introduced fresh short-comings, or whether I have simply found the items which had been widely criticised previously. Whichever way it is, I was disappointed.

Until, that is, I got onto the comparatively open road. Then this 1,756 c.c. twin-cam 104 m.p.h. Fiat got along very well. The suspension is apt to lurch laterally to some extent and the gearbox is inclined to be baulky. But this is a comfortable way of driving quickly and by judicious use of that fifth gear I recorded a rather remarkable 29.5 m.p.g. of four-star petrol on a long run. If you don’t mind the Fiat triple-stalk levers on the steering column, most of the controls are well contrived, and items like a heated rear window, red light on the door extremities, flush-fitting door handles, dual headlamps, cigarette lighter, etc. are included.

I thought at first of this Fiat 132 as an Italian Mexico. Actually, it is a better appointed, more-luxurious car, but one nevertheless able to go from to 60 m.p.h. in about Mexico-time. It may have a softer ride and less responsive steering than the fast Ford, but a twin-cam, 5-speed, fully equipped saloon for under £1,900 is not to be scorned. Further Fiat attractions are the adjustable steering column, thermo-electric fan, those all-disc dual-circuit brakes, single-speed wipers with electric washers and an intermediate action for light rain, etc. But roadside “pit-stops” were delayed because the flap over the fuel-filler was difficult to pivot and the screw cap then took time to undo and replace. Turin may take heed of what we Press roadsters say. But the Fiat 132 still isn’t free from snags. However, as a car with a dual personality, sporting saloon and well contrived family coach combined, it merits attention.—W.13