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Fiat Panda. Ultimate pride of Giorgetto Giugiaro.

Image: Fiat
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In 1980 the Fiat Panda saw the light of day. The small angular Italian was marketed to provide cheap and practical transportation. The Panda also fulfilled its maker's wish to introduce the successful front-wheel drive concept from, for example, the 127 and the Autobianchi A112 in the smallest class. Designer Giorgetto Giugiaro managed to design a striking and extremely successful car. It remained in production for 23 years.


The Fiat Panda was initially produced in three engine variants. The two-cylinder 650 cc engine from predecessor Fiat 126 found its place in the cheapest version. Also the well-known 847 cc (in the Panda 34) and the 903 cc engine (in the Panda 45). The bikes found their way into a stunningly simple, yet oh-so-thought-out concept. Giugiaro kept his job very well by putting a lot of effort into the design, but keeping costs as low as possible. The ingenuity was visible in the design of the thin, but surprisingly comfortable seats. The cover was also removable and washable. Furthermore, the interior offered numerous options for variation. The dashboard was simple in design, but very recognizable. On the outside, the large plastic parts on the underside of the body stood out in particular.

modifications

In 1984 the Fiat Panda underwent a first facelift. The tin grille made room for a plastic one, including the five-stripe logo. The Panda also received other type designations. The 1986 changes were more drastic. The body was reinforced and galvanized. The plastic panels around were reduced in size. The front doors now had one large glass surface. And the Panda now got coil springs at the rear. He took on a more mature look in every way. The new FIRE engines (all four-cylinder with 769cc, 999cc and 1108 cc) with overhead camshaft and a five-way bearing crankshaft also contributed to this. From 1987, the carburettors of these engines made way for an injection system, also prompted by the arrival and application of the catalytic converter.

Panda with a Dutch touch

In 1991 the first generation of the Fiat Panda greeted its last facelift. The grille was again slightly modified. And one model was given a Dutch touch: the Selecta was fitted with Van Doorne's continuously variable transmission, linked to the 1.108 cc engine. Furthermore, the CLX was a striking version. He got a five-speed gearbox. From 1991 the Panda was in any case offered in various trim levels and special versions.

Special versions

Speaking of special versions: the 4×4 became the first small car with a transverse engine to have four-wheel drive. It debuted in 1983 and – always keeping pace with modifications and bigger engines – kept up with the model changes. The car was developed by Steyr Puch in Austria. The final assembly also took place in the Alpine country. Furthermore, the Panda was still built as diesel (1.3) and 'elettra'.

"My most successful design"

Finally, the first Fiat Panda was replaced by generation two in 2003. The little Fiat was built about four and a half million times. Simple in design, but oh so functional and sympathetic, the Panda turned out to be able to withstand many fads. It is one of the reasons that Giugiaro called this Panda his most successful design. He once unfolded why. “It was a timeless and functional car at its best that appealed to millions of people and gave new impetus to the basics of transport needs.” Today, Pandas from the last years of construction are for sale at reasonable prices and easily available. The Pandas from the first years of construction are now rare and are rising in prestige in the classic world. Either way, the Panda was a stunningly simple concept, shaping a new foundation of motoring for nearly a quarter of a century.

Read also:
- Fiat 128 rally. Popular variation on a popular theme.
- NSU-Fiat, a fight divorce
- Fiat Ritmo 130 TC Abarth (1984): Approval looks for Bouke. 
- Fiat 127. Memories of an icon
- Fiat 126 as bycatch


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10 Comments

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  1. I just came back from Italy and there, especially in the mountainous parts, the old and new panda is so incredibly popular. I estimate that one in 5 cars is a panda and half of them are the old model. Also a lot of 4×4.
    Great to see how a car has meant so much for mobility.

  2. The design was timeless and very practical. That was still possible at the time. The time when the 1st place for worst drag coefficient was claimed by a wardrobe, closely followed by the square panda with flat windshield. And chairs that looked more like hammocks than real chairs. All this should no longer be allowed for security reasons alone.
    Regardless, it remains one of the most iconic cars in history. You could almost do the maintenance with a pocket knife. The T-Ford pales in this regard.

  3. I can remember that that was one of the few cars (along with the Seat variant) where I had to make the greatest possible effort not to press three pedals with 1 foot (size 1) at the same time 🙄

  4. Also enjoyed such a Pandarari…. the car with the best advertising of its time. I quickly removed the “34” engine and replaced it with a UNO “70”. Coupled with the original 4 speed gearbox, this gave nice effects. However, everything in the engine room had to be pushed aside with a press to get it to fit… lots of laughs….

      • I don't just want to do cool stories…but I really had the 34 box behind it. Perhaps with some fiddling. Initially also wanted to leave the 5 gearbox of the UNO, but that was not possible with the drive shafts. Just wanted some pics of the 128 engine. Recognizable yes. D-belt, corner oil filter. For that filter I had to forge a twist in the diagonal beam where the front attachment of the wishbone is attached. The engine was also too high with the air filter to close the hood, so the inner reinforcements were cut out of the hood and two extra rubber closures were made at the front.

  5. Still a nice thing!
    Especially the phase 1. The phases after that try too much to be a serious car.
    The 4×4 is top notch of course!

    I think the 'plastic strips' on the sides were nothing more than a very thick layer of paint. Great against scratches, etc

    • Black Magica rides Panda. The panda 4×4 is a car that climbs smoothly on top of Vesuvius and descends from it in one piece and still does so every day.

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