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‘There are three types of GT’ proclaimed Fiat GB in 1968. The ones that are little more than an ordinary saloon cars, nicely packaged. The ones that are hot but leave you cold aesthetically. And the ones that are real stoppers to look at – real goers when you get behind the wheel. In short, cars such as the 124 Coupe and the 850 Coupe – latter representing ‘11’ 10” of sheer excitement’.
As a child growing up in rural Hampshire in the early 1970s, there was a select group of cars that seemed to exemplify an impossibly remote world of glamour. Admittedly, I was raised in a village where Marty Wilde was still regarded as a young Teddy Boy and watching BBC2 a sign of dangerous radicalism. The fact that my family ran a succession of near wrecks also shaped my views concerning automotive excellence. At that time I classed any vehicle where the passenger door did not actually fall off as a “luxury car”.
There was a time when you would not have looked twice at a 128 saloon, for it would have been as much part of your everyday life as Nationwide in the evening and wondering just why the scenery in Crossroads looked so flexible.
‘You get a mixture of reactions – some people really love it and some people who don’t really get it’, remarks Freddy Harris of his 1982 Panda 45 – and this reflected the response to the first RHD examples in May 1981.
The Panda is now well into its third generation but when did you last see one of the original versions? Once experienced, this was yet another Fiat could never be forgotten – the boxy yet attractive styling by Giugiaro, the flat windshield with its single wiper, the rear bench that could be arranged to form a hammock and the front ashtray that could be slid across the fascia.