When 70 Horsepower Meant The World

Seventy horsepower is considered to be such a low figure nowadays that in some cases, mechanically identical engines can make 70 more or 70 less horsepower depending on how the engine management software is setup. But back in the seventies, cars in Europe were light as a feather, and 70 horsepower could indeed make them fly.

The second series of the Fiat 127, which arrived in 1977, was much less attractive that first one the Pio Manzù designed, but the Sport edition that came out the next year made everybody forget about that rather quickly. In 1978, the VW Golf GTI was already three years old, so the idea of a hot hatch was nothing new, but the 127 Sport gave power to the people in the form of a smaller and much cheaper package. This was no more an economy car, but rather something that could kill you. Its top speed was a hundred miles an hour.

Fiat was so proud of the fact that they got 70 horses out of the Brazilian-made 1049 cc engine with the help of a two-barrel carburetor and a rev-happy camshaft that they put a shiny "70 HP" badge right on the mesh-patterned black radiator grille. The Sport could only be ordered with the three door body, while color options were limited to orange (with black stripes), black (with orange stripes) or metallic gray (with black stripes). It also got 155/70 tyres on a special set of alloys, extra spoilers and air intake, and a dual exhaust pipe to complete the looks.

When 70 Horsepower Meant The World

Inside, you were looking at the tachometer through a small and fat two-spoke aluminum steering wheel, your right hand was on a five-speed stick, while the seats had contrasting colours to compliment the stripes outside. The top of the line model also had velvet seats, tinted windows and a sunroof, while the rear window was heated and had a wiper for those rainy days.

Most of these cars rusted away in the last three decades, and there is only an orange one for sale in Hungary at the moment with a widened rear track and black Abarth wheel arch extensions. The price tag is $1800 and it looks like about another $900 is needed to get it back on the road. I know I shouldn't, but if it's still there before summer, I just might...

When 70 Horsepower Meant The World