Sports sedans in the sixties were mostly produced by BMW or Alfa Romeo. But it would be a mistake to neglect competitors from other brands as well. For example, the Fiat 125 S was an excellent sports sedan of that time, as anyone who has ever had the opportunity to drive it will confirm.
Type 125 came on the market in 1967 as a larger successor to the sedan 1500. In addition to its shapes, it was pure modernity – elegant and simply cut and pleasing shapes were still not seen today. At the same time, however, the type 125 took over the floor part and chassis from its predecessor. The new model also scored points in the European Car of the Year poll, where it finished second behind the NSU Ro80 sedan.
Using an existing platform accelerated development
Someone observant will surely notice that the middle part and the roof come from the smaller sedan 124, so Gian Paolo Boano didn’t really have that many options to design. Nevertheless, the result is very successful and I personally like it better than the smaller 124 with the square lights. In terms of overall dimensions, it exceeds the smaller type by 19 centimeters in length and the wheelbase has been extended by 8 centimeters. Dante Giacosa had to use as much technology as possible from the smaller 124 model, so the development of the car went really fast.
The sports model was marked with the letter S (Special). Fiat first offered it in 1968, adding additional chrome fender skirts and lightweight Cromodora magnesium wheels. Standard equipment such as wiper cycler (allegedly the first European car with this feature, probably only the eyewitnesses can confirm this, Fiat did boast about it), heated rear window, halogen lights, imitation wood paneling, radio, clock and brake booster were really not common among the competition .
With extra features, the Fiat was a great piece
For an extra charge, you could have air conditioning, and surprisingly, there was also an extra charge for a rear-view mirror. No one here paid for it, that’s why the plastic ones are additionally mounted on the car. From 1971, Fiat used better upholstery and a different decor, the mask and taillights also changed. The car from the Car Brothers workshop also has additional lights that enhance the sportier character.
Although I wrote above that the cabin is identical to the smaller sedan 124, this only applies from the outside. For example, the doors and windows fit the car, but inside you have a completely different feeling. In the 125 type, the rear bench with the armrest is moved further back and the dashboard is also different, so the interior is much more spacious. The brown upholstery does not deny its years, but even today the interior is pleasant. The seats are upholstered in leather and velor and have sporty stitching, but don’t expect much support in them.
There are no seat belts at the back either, but they were simply not necessary at the time of production. However, they are comfortable and have beds, so you don’t have to pay for a cabin at veterans’ meetings. You control the car with a sports steering wheel (it is a period non-original accessory, but it fits here perfectly), which really has a very pleasant grip. The luggage compartment holds 400 liters and has leather upholstery to protect the surfaces. The reserve is under the floor and not standing up like the smaller 124. To the right of the undercarriage you will find the tank, which is 50 liters for the S version (my 125 only has 45 liters by default).
The DOHC sixteen, designed by Aurelio Lampredi, was a very modern engine and Fiat paired it with a five-speed manual. The basis was based on the engine in the 124 Sport type. Solex carburetors were later replaced by Fiat products of the famous Weber brand. In addition, the 125 S has a modified cylinder head, intake and distributor, and the camshaft has been replaced with a sharper one. Thanks to this, the Fiat has 100 hp and 133 Nm, it reaches 100 km/h in 13 seconds and can go up to 170 km/h.
It drives really sporty
But it starts to wake up around 3,000 rpm, so you mustn’t be afraid to drive it there. Of course, that’s just the beginning, the real beauty is the sound at 8,000 revs, where Fiat really enjoys it. Maybe it’s a shame that it was better soundproofed in the S version than in the regular 125 sedans. Fortunately, thanks to the flexibility and reactions to the gas pedal, the sharper ride is not at all unpleasant, on the contrary, I would develop an addiction to riding the 125. I would probably be limited by the consumption, which can go over ten liters without any problems.
The weight of 1,050 kilograms is not at all large, so the car was praised for its dynamics and handling even at its launch. I’m definitely not going to contradict it even today, because I’m doing very well with the car. I don’t feel at all that the sedan is dragging an unnecessary load and I know everything about the direction and traction of the front wheels thanks to clean steering. However, even the best car has some flaws, and even the Fiat 125 is not a perfect exception without reservations.
However, older technology has its limits
But the chassis components were not new, but came from the predecessor (transverse arms with springs at the front and a rigid axle on leaf springs at the back), so the sedan cannot fully utilize the engine’s potential. At first it seems understeer in the corner, the oversteer would show up to the limit. It feels a bit restless during sharper driving, and I’m actually glad for the dual-circuit brake system and discs on all wheels. One has the necessary certainty if one overdoes it. It’s a shame, because with a better chassis, the 125 could have tormented the contemporary competition even more.
It is interesting that you could also buy this car from us, where 1,600 units were imported (out of a total of about 603,000 Fiat 125s produced). At that time, it was only available in Tuzex stores, for 18,200 vouchers. If you succeeded, you had one of the best cars on our roads, a real sports sedan with fairly reliable technology. However, not many people had the opportunity to have an Italian original at home, so more often you met Polski Fiat 125P from the FSO car company with older technology.
Other cars created thanks to the sold licenses included the Yugoslav Zastava 125 and the Egyptian Nasr 125, the technique was also used by Argentine Fiats and cars produced in Chile, Colombia and Morocco. Already in 1972, the production of the Italian original was stopped and the Fiat 132 appeared. Since then, the Polish version was allowed to be exported to the West, where it originally had closed doors. Today there are not many of them for sale, but I found a few pieces in the range of 150 to 300 thousand crowns in an advertisement from neighboring Germany.