1974 Fiat 128 SL Coupe USA from Netherlands - Comments

8th Aug 2003, 11:24

My father bought an SL 1300 back in 1973. This car last 24 years.

The main problem of this model it's corrosion. Nowadays my 128 it's rusting away in my house backyard.

If mechanical parts are easy to find body panels and doors are impossible.

I really miss the Weber carburettor roaring and the seventies black interior with the cheap chrome all around.

12th Apr 2005, 21:30

I had a '74 Fiat 128 SL from 1981-1982. It is still one of the most beautiful little coupes ever made. That car could stop on a dime, and after many months I discovered that the rear brakes weren't even functioning. After that it stopped even better!

I got rid of it due to rust, but no car provided a more thrilling ride. It had terrible electrics; the headlights once went out on a dark forest road after hitting a small bump.

Too bad Fiat is gone from the US: they make cool cars.

24th May 2005, 16:02

In September, 1974 my wife and I were the happy recipients of a brand new Fiat 128SL Sports Coupe as a wedding gift from my father in law. He was born in Detroit so convincing him this was the right car for us was a bit tough.

The Fiat was a beautiful coupe and when it was in proper fit a delight to drive. My wife and I made several roundtrips from our hometowns in PA to my assignment at Lowry AFB in Colorado in our Fiat.

We had modified the seat belts for a better fit, having a shop add about six inches to the webbing on the inside strap so that the shoulder/lap belts fit more comfortably on both of us. We found the vinyl upholstery to be less than durable, particularly with an Irish Setter tromping around on the back seat, but soon sheepskins took care of that all the way around.

As I recall the clutch cable was a frequent problem and I became expert at replacing it in a matter of minutes - and I ALWAYS carried a spare.

While the four speed did result in high revs at highway speeds, the car was a treat to drive in most conditions. I believe there was some sort of factory camber setting error that could not be fixed and as a result the car simply ate tires alive on the front wheels. This condition was exacerbated when my wife slid into curb one icy morning. In a cost benefit analysis (as only a poorly paid enlisted man could make) I opted to just replace tires every 15,000 miles or so instead of springing for the far more costly "real" repair job.

Our Fiat was dark blue with a tan vinyl interior and had the 1974 safety bumpers which, while ugly were pretty darn strong. The also were great for use as a seat when changing into hiking boots or biking shoes at the trailhead!

All in all, the Fiat 128SL was a delightful part of my lifetime of car memories. Remember that this car predated the VW Scirocco in the US Market place and I believe was every bit as beautiful. I do recall though that there were times when I wished that my SL had been a hatchback.

Would LOVE to see a Fiat 128SL on the road again.

21st Dec 2005, 19:56

Last year at New Years an older couple (friends of mine) approached me in the Golden Eagle Saloon in Ester, Alaska and offered me their 74 Fiat 128 SL Coupe for free! When asked why they would make such a generous offer they replied, ‘Because we know you’ll give it a good home’. I accepted without even knowing what I was receiving. The car was bought originally by my friends in Anchorage, Alaska and in all these years they managed to only put 64,000 miles on it. They maintained it perfectly and kept it garaged always. It had nothing more than superficial rust and a few very minor dings.

I replaced the exhaust, fixed a dinky electrical problem and repainted it. It’s the most original car I’ve got. Drove it every day last summer and it was tons of fun.

13th Sep 2006, 02:50

I bought a little Fiat 128SL back in 1985 and had it for three years. What an amazing little car when it was on the road!! Sydney-Melbourne in 9 hours on the old road!! 5500 revs all the way!! Past the Commodores (Opels) up the hills and through the corners - I felt like Mario Andretti!! Just as well the police were in bed as we have ridiculously low speed limits here.

Pity I had to get under it all the time and had so much trouble with clutch cables until I found out the top engine mount was shot. Once replaced all was well.

However, the engine wore out (was on the way out when I bought it) and I can well remember the new owners driving away with a small cloud of smoke chasing them. Lucky it had 50-70 multigrade.

I loved the handling, gearchange and driving it. So comfortable with my wife and son. He learnt how to drive in it on the back roads at the age of 13 and so loved manuals that he still has them.

Have never seen another on the road since.

2nd Nov 2006, 20:53

1974 128Coupe SL! What a wonderful toy! I had on earlier one in Houston when going to college, but was hit in the front, didn't have the money..., so it disapeared :- (

I bought another 128SL in Colorado (2004),where I live now. And yes! there is rust galore, but the car runs WELL! I need a passenger door foremost! Suspension is actually not there, but the parts are? It is a yellow/lime green and it looks good when washed, hope it lasts another five years!

The sound and feel of the engine is super even though it only has the US Webber 28 :- (My next process is the suspension and neutralizing the rust(ing). These are great toys/cars that actually are quite reliable.

Driving these babies hard, IS fun!

15th Nov 2006, 14:41

I had a 1973 red 128 SL while living in Spain back when I was in the Air Force. I bought it in 1986 and it was in pretty good condition... dry climate helped avoid the notorious Fiat corrosion problems. Interestingly enough, it was a US spec edition, having been shipped over from the US by an USAF guy. I remember that the engine seemed pretty advanced (compared to US cars) for the early '70s, with the overhead cam, very high redline (7000 RPMs), etc. I also remember having the aforementioned problem with the clutch cable, but that was a pretty easy fix. Compared to the European versions, the US version had better seats, bumpers & the safety glass. I drove it fairly hard for a couple of years, it had superb handling and that pleasing exhaust note, especially at the higher RPMs. What a pleasure to go tearing down some mountain road, keeping your shift points at around 6000 RPM. Sharp looking car, too. Too bad you never see them around any more. I also remember that the Fiat/Bertone X1/9 had the exact same engine as the 128. A friend of mine had one of those. A few years later, I happened to pick up the sedan version of the 128, but it wasn't nearly as satisfying to drive.