The Fiat 124 is a mid-sized family car manufactured and marketed by Fiat between 1966 and 1974. The sedan superseded the Fiat 1300 and Fiat 1500 and spawned variants including a station wagon (with stiffened springs and a revised final drive ratio), four-seater coupé, two-seater spider convertible and a slightly lengthened and more luxurious version, the 125, launched in early 1967.
The Russian-built Lada 1200 and 1300 produced until 1988 were based on the Fiat 124, along with other licensed variants manufactured worldwide. The 124 was superseded in its home market by the slightly larger Fiat 131 Mirafiori.
Following its introduction in 1966 with a publicity stunt, with Fiat filming the dropping of the car by parachute from a plane, the 124 won the 1967 European Car of the Year. The station wagon variant, as well as the 124 Sport Spider and the 124 Coupé variants debuted at the 1967 Turin Motor show.
As a clean-sheet design by Oscar Montabone, the chief engineer responsible for its development, the 124 used only the all-synchromesh gear box from the Fiat 1500. The 124 featured a spacious interior, advanced coil spring rear suspension, disc brakes on all wheels and lightweight construction.
Power came from a 1.2 L (1,197 cc) Fiat OHV inline-four engine. Also, there were the 124 Special with a 1,438 cc OHV engine and the 124 Special T with 1,438 cc and 1,592 cc twin cam OHC engines. The twin cams are connected to a five-speed gearbox.1200 (1,197 cc) – 60 PS (44 kW; 59 hp) – 66 PS (49 kW; 65 hp) (1966–1974)
1400 (1,438 cc) – 70 PS (51 kW; 69 hp) – 75 PS (55 kW; 74 hp) (1968–1974)
1400 Special T (1,438 cc) Twin cam – 80 PS (59 kW; 79 hp) (1968–1972)
1600 Special T (1,592 cc) Twin cam – 95 PS (70 kW; 94 hp) (1973–1974)
Abarth Rally (1,756 cc) Twin cam – 128 PS (94 kW; 126 hp) (1972–1973)
2000 (1,920 cc) Twin cam – 115 PS (85 kW; 113 hp) (1979)
Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Fiat sought to extend its worldwide reach by entering into various collaborative agreements with smaller manufacturers (mostly in developing nations) by licensing the 124 design following its discontinuation in mainstream Western European markets, including the widely known variant manufactured by AvtoVAZ in the former Soviet Union, manufacturer of the Lada.
In 1966, Fiat entered into a collaborative agreement with the Soviet government to establish car manufacture in the Samara region of Russia. Fiat was contracted to take part in the creation of the massive VAZ plant in the newly created town of Togliatti, named after the Italian communist leader of the same name. The factory produced an adapted version 124R of the 124, known as the VAZ-2101 "Zhiguli" (sold as the Lada 1200/1300 in export markets), until 1982, and 1200s until 1987. Based on the 124, they were modified at more than 800 points, the major modifications having an entirely different Fiat OHC engine, hydraulic clutch, drum brakes at the rear, modified suspensions, etc. Early modifications include the VAZ-2102 (station wagon), 2103 (Lada 1500), 2106 (Lada 1600) and 21011 (Lada 1300). The updated and restyled versions of the 124-based design were produced until September 2012, as the VAZ-2104, 2105 and 2107 – marketed as the Lada Riva (or Lada Classic) in most Western European markets. Production of this line reached 17,332,954 cars, this being the second largest production volume for a car in automotive history
The Fiat 124 was also introduced in India by Premier Automobiles Limited. Premier had acquired in 1981 the chassis of the facelifted SEAT 124 after authorisation from Fiat and was released in the autumn of 1985 as the Premier 118NE. The car was very similar to the 1966 version except for a few cosmetic changes to the front and rear. However, Premier incorporated the Nissan A12 (1,171 cc and 52 bhp) powertrain instead of the original Fiat engine along with a Nissan manual gearbox. Added in 1996, there was also a version called the 1.38D which sported a diesel engine, built under license from Fratelli Negri Macchine Diesel Sud of Italy.
At the end of production an improved model called Viceroy was released in collaboration with Peugeot. Production ended in 2001.
In the frame of the licence agreement between SEAT and Fiat, it was produced and sold in Spain with the name SEAT 124 from 1968 to 1975. Also a clone from the 124 Special with some elements from Fiat 125 was produced from 1969 to 1975 with the 1438 cc engine along with the twin-cams known as the "FUs" 1,600 cc (1970–72), and 1,800 cc (1972–75) branded as SEAT 1430. In 1975 when Fiat stopped production of the Fiat 124, the SEAT 124 had a minor facelift done by Giorgetto Giugiaro changing the aesthetics of the car by changing the round headlamps to rectangular design and integrating taillights into the body, car was known as the SEAT 124D and remained in production until 1980 with the Sport versions now codenamed the "FLs", FL-40/45 1,600 cc 90HP, FL-80/82 1,800 cc 114HP and FL-90 1,919 cc 114HP The car was very successful in Spain, and was sold in both the four-door and station wagon versions.
The Fiat 124 was also produced under the name Pirin-Fiat in Lovech, Bulgaria, on the basis of complete knockdown (CKD) kits between 1967 and 1971.
The Fiat 124 was also produced by Tofaş under the names "Murat 124" between 1971-1977 and "Serçe" ("sparrow" in Turkish) between 1984-1994, in Bursa, Turkey. 134,867 Murat 124s were produced between 1971 and 1994. Tofaş concurrently produced the Fiat 131 series under the name Murat 131 between 1976 and 2002. Today, the company manufactures bona fide Fiat models.
The Fiat 124 was also produced under the name Fiat-KIA 124 by Asia Motors in South Korea, between 1970 and 1975.
From 2002 to 2007, Lada-Egypt company built at least 9,000 cars (2,200 in 2006) in the shell of VAZ-2107 (Riva), and it continues in 2012.
At Salone dell'Automobile of Torino in 1966, Carrozzeria Touring presented a convertible version of Fiat 124 saloon. It was the last car built by Touring. Only one example was made. Reactions were positive, but the Fiat CEO terminated this project in favour of the Pininfarina-styled 124 Sport Spider.