Autobianchi A111. The story of a special and rare car – Oldtimers in Auto Motor Klassiek

The Autobianchi A111 was built between 1969 and 1972. Unlike the Primula and the A112, this model is less well known. The A111 was a mid-range luxury sedan, and it actually sprung from Project 123. It was created by parent Fiat to develop a mid-range. Project 123 was created under the auspices of Dante Giacosa and consisted of four proposals. None of the four designs produced a new Fiat, but it offered Fiat subsidiary Autobianchi fourth draft result. One of the Project 123 creations (E4) had front-wheel drive in combination with a transverse engine and a side-mounted transmission. This configuration was further developed for Autobianchi and the technical result first found its way to the Primula, the predecessor of the A111.

In the run up to that development, Dante Giacosa had unsuccessfully tried to fit the fourth and progressive design of the Project 123 (E4) into the design of Fiat’s new mid-size sedan. Fiat management preferred conventional technology and a clear concept. Fiat decided to develop a completely new model on that basis. It became the Fiat 124. As mentioned, (the technical part of) Project 123 (E4) became the basis for the modern Primula by Fiat subsidiary Autobianchi.


New design, existing values

Meanwhile, Autobianchi boss Enrico Ghiretti was not blind to developments at the parent company. The Fiat 128 (project X1/1) was in the pipeline, and with (the development of) the 124, Fiat continued vigorously. Ghiretti also wanted to develop a modern sedan for Autobianchi, and his proposal was approved by Fiat management. As Fiat’s Centro Stile was crowded, it was decided to use the design of the rejected project 123 E4 as a source of inspiration. The 123 E4 wagon became the starting point for three box body of Autobianchi A111. The design was changed. For example, the front left room for the integration of rectangular headlights.

Powerful motor in approved overall design

Ghiretti approved the overall design for production. This is how the Autobianchi A111 (broadly speaking) was created. And Dante Giacosa’s Project 123 E4 even formed the basis for two successive Autobianchi models. First the Primula and later the Autobianchi A111, which compared to its Fiat relatives from Turin also appeared bolder and more angular. The A111 was built on the platform of the Primula with its chassis and powertrain composition. In addition, the 1438 cc OHV engine from the most powerful Primula, the Coupé S from 1968, was given space in the forecastle. The engine, which in the Autobianchi A111 was equipped with, among other things, one double Weber carburettor, delivered 75 HP. The power source was also installed in, among other things, the Fiat 124 Special.

Beautiful safety features, proven technology

The engine was located transversely in the Autobianchi A111. In addition, front-wheel drive and a steering damper were fitted. As mentioned, the undercarriage was known from Fiat 128 ground breaking Primula. The front included triangular wishbones (top) and a transverse leaf spring (bottom). Rear: a rigid axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs. Autobianchi also excelled in safety. In a frontal collision, the steering column collapsed into three parts, and the deformation of the body in the event of a collision was also extensively programmed. The braking system – with separate system, discs on all four wheels, power brakes and brake force distributor on the rear axle – met the most current requirements.

Family trait

The bodywork of the Autobianchi A111 showed clear Fiat family traits. The similarities with the lines of the 124 and with the body design of the Fiat 128 developed at the same time as the A111 were clearly visible. The Fiats were slightly more elegantly designed, the A111 was slightly more angular and more powerful. The cabin had a rather tall structure, the front was low and close, the stern was short and sloping. Including all family traits New Fiat’s visible, and yet the Autobianchi A111 stood out. That was also the case technically, because the buyer got a nice finish and complete equipment.

Niche for the Fiat Group

Autobianchi A111 always occupied a remarkable position between Fiat 128 and Fiat 124 and also united different principles thereof. In addition, he made use of Primula technology and was luxuriously equipped and equipped with modern safety applications, while the bus represented conventional business (but in an Italian way). The (further endearing) 1438cc Aurelio Lampredi engine with lateral camshaft was indeed a veteran. It also showed a top speed of 155 kilometers per hour. It was a niche with different characteristics.

Difficult to place within the internal playing field

Perhaps its composition made the Autobianchi A111 difficult for the buyer to place and value. The A111 also had a hefty price tag. In 1971 it cost almost 10,000 guilders in the Netherlands, while the larger Fiat 124 Special (with similar equipment and engine) was listed for 9,200 guilders. In addition, with the 128 versions, Fiat had less strongly motorized, but extremely favorably priced and also modern alternatives. The technology was up to date and the A111 and 128 did not differ much in terms of space.

Only built three years

The Autobianchi A111 was only built for three years. In 1970 it was slightly modified. This was reflected, among other things, in the improved finish in the interior and the double rear lights. It went out of production in 1972 – after 57,000 units had been built. It makes its contemporary proposal as a classic quite exclusive. And in its time, the A111 was indeed that. It was different, but the A111 tasted very good.

Also read:
– Fiat 124 Special, a world car
– Fiat 128 rally. Loved variation on a popular theme.
– Fiat 128. Revolution and eternal love

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