Perseverance and Passion Keep This Fiat Humming
Owner and photographer: Martin Šimon
Location: Czech Republic
Year, Make, and Model: 1978 Fiat 127
Cars became Mr. Martin Šimon’s “obsession” just after receiving his driver’s license. Unfortunately, his first car was an old Skoda Favorit, which according to Martin, “is really one of the worst cars you can buy in our country, but it was relatively cheap and worked.” And lacking previous experience with cars, it satisfied him.
After the Skoda came a few other forgettable cars. But as he got older he realized that he wanted something fun for weekends that he could toss around. One day, his sister’s boyfriend told Martin that his old 900cc, forty-five horsepower Fiat 127 was for sale. Martin knew the car as a passenger and didn’t really like the Fiat, “it was rusty, noisy, slow and very [cramped] inside.” But craving different automotive experiences, Martin convinced his sister’s boyfriend to lend him the 127 for a week. After only one hour behind the wheel Martin knew he must own that car.
The Fiat “was still rusty, noisy, slow and very small but now, [experiencing it] as a driver, I really liked it. It has no electronic assistance, no ABS, no power windows, and no air-conditioning. Just driving without distraction.” He bought the little Fiat for a great price and never returned it.
He knew that the bodywork was quite rusty but only after buying the Fiat and driving it a bit did he discover that it had gone for many years without proper maintenance. So after a few weeks the 127 headed to a workshop where the bodywork was repaired and re-sprayed. The car looked new when he got it back but there was still a lot of work to be done. Over five years of ownership he’s replaced nearly half of the parts. Additionally, the engine’s been resealed and rebuilt and he’s fitted aluminum wheels, an Abarth steering wheel, and new headlights.
Sadly, the car has been back to the bodyshop several times as Martin’s hit a deer and been rear-ended. There are also little lingering electronic issues that occasionally pop up. Yet in spite of all the problems, Martin “still loves the small Fiat and will always forgive the minor bugs that sometimes occur.”
Like many enthusiasts, he only drives the 127 on sunny weekends from spring through autumn, usually aimlessly, on backroads outside of town for pleasure. “This car is just for fun, not to drive from A to B. I like to feel and hear everything that the Fiat is doing. There is no power steering, so I can almost feel every grain of sand on the road. No brake booster means great feedback in the brake pedal. This car gives you a feeling you can’t experience in a modern car. Moreover, when you drive the car at full throttle, you still don’t violate the regulations. It is just not powerful enough.”
The Fiat’s top speed is a little over 130 kph (about eighty mph), but according to Martin it’s scary close to its limit. He acknowledges that there may be hundreds of cars better than his Fiat, but he’s never regretted buying it.