A Short History of the Fiat 1100

This text seems to be doing the rounds of the internet in one form or another. It provides a nice concise history of the Fiat 1100.

The Fiat 1100 was an automobile produced from 1937 to 1969, by the Italian car maker Fiat.

The Fiat 1100 was first introduced in 1937 as an updated version of the 508 “Balilla” (its real name was the 508C) with a look similar to the 1936 Fiat 500 “Topolino” and the larger 1500, with the typical late-30s’ heart-shaped front grille. It was powered by a 1089 cc four cylinder, overhead valve, engine. Drive was to the rear wheels through a four speed gearbox. Subsequently the car underwent a partial restyling around the front end and gained new streamlined window-shaped louvres and was re-named the 1100B and popularly known as the “1100 musone” (i. e. “big nose”). After World War II, in 1949, the car was re-introduced with a curvy trunk and new name, the 1100E. Both the 508C and the 1100B were also available as the long wheelbase 508L and mainly used for vans and taxis.

In 1953 the 1100 was completely redesigned as a compact 4-door sedan, with a modern monocoque bodywork and integrated front lights. The new model was called the 1100/103 after its project number, and was offered (as usual at that time) in two different versions: “economica” (cheaper) and “normale” (standard). The car became available in a sporty version, the 1100TV with a third light in the middle of the grille and in station-wagon version, with a fifth door.

Between 1956 and 1960 the new 1100 underwent several slight changes in fittings and details, e.g. newly designed grille, more rectangular profile, dual color dressing, and eventually small fintails with spear-shaped backlights. A special version, the 1100 Granluce (i.e. “Large light”), launched in 1959, had both fintails and wider windows. As an option it could be fitted with a new powerful 1200 cc engine.

Retaining the exterior changes of this model, in 1962 Fiat introduced the 3rd generation 1100, called the 1100D. It was a sober yet comfortable 4-door runabout, very similar to the Granluce but with smoother sides and a new simpler rectangular mouth. The 1100D was a successful Italian standard in the early sixties and along with its own SW version survived without any substantial alteration until 1966, when the introduction of the groundbreaking 124 model imposed a further change in styling.

The very last 1100 model, born that year, was the 1100R (R = Redesigned). It had a longer, straighter and slimmer line, with a square back and a front-end look not so different from its bigger sister the Fiat 124. The 1100R finally gave way in 1969 to the new middle-class Fiat 128.

The Fiat 1100D is known as the Premier Padmini in India.