By on March 28, 2014

04 - 1963 Fiat 1100D Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinOld Fiats aren’t uncommon in American self-serve wrecking yards these days, but the ones you find are almost always Sport Spiders— we’ve seen this ’71, this ’71 850, this ’73, this ’75, this terrifyingly rusty ’76, this ’78, and this ’80 so far in this series— but a Fiat 1100? This is a first for me.
01 - 1963 Fiat 1100D Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis is the car upon which the beloved-by-India Premier Padmini was based, and it was built until 2001.
03 - 1963 Fiat 1100D Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis 1100D is very rough and the engine is gone, although it does appear to be relatively rust-free.
07 - 1963 Fiat 1100D Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis car probably wasn’t at all out of place as a daily driver in Berkeley or San Francisco. Even today, there’s a ’58 Multipla getting daily street use in the East Bay.
09 - 1963 Fiat 1100D Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWorth restoring? Probably not. Some of the parts might live on, though.

Sadly, the Padmini taxis of Indias are being phased out.

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32 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1963 Fiat 1100D...”

  • avatar

    I’ve never understood the English/Hindi combination language used on their programs. Why both and not one or the other? I guess because both are official languages.

    Then I wonder if it’s a class thing, and the educated speak English while the poor people only know Hindi.

    • 0 avatar

      India is a multilingual country. Nearly all educated Indians speak English and the language of their home state. Lots of educated Indians do not speak Hindi.

      We had a couple of Indians visiting our office, they all always spoke English because they were from states that had different native languages.

      • 0 avatar

        How do the educated ones who don’t speak Hindi communicate with your average “worker” or what have you when they’re out places? And presumably all adverts and signs are in both languages.

        I do know there are regional/city dialects there.

        • 0 avatar

          I think that while English is generally the language of better educated Indians it’s aspirational so lots of people have some English, though it might be bad.

          Most Indian professionals I know can speak English, Hindi/Urdu and usually one other dialiect because of where their family are from.

        • 0 avatar

          If they’re in their home state, the “worker” most likely speaks the same native language. If they’re in a state where they don’t speak the predominant language, well, it’s just like if I run into someone who only speaks Spanish, we just kind of work things out.

        • 0 avatar

          Corey, in India lots of languages convive and are official. Two of the most spoken languages in the world are almost exclusive to India, but having 1 billion people leads to huge numbers.

          I have met several Indians in my life and they tell me that due to tv, radio and even education (all Indians get some schooling nowadays), almost all Indians at least understand English and speak some. So, at least from what I’ve been told, communication is achieved.

          Besides that, most Indians are multilingual, they speak their native language, at least on of the larger continent wide languages and some English.

    • 0 avatar

      English, though the language of law, government, business, higher education, etc, is not actually an official language of India.

      The languages an Indian knows is determined by:

      *their class (which determines the schools they attend, English schools are thought better/more expensive)
      *where they were raised (languages of the area)
      *where their family came from (family languages)

      But the key thing is…Indians tend not to treat languages as separate entities. Languages sit on a spectrum of usage, certain things are said in English, certain things are said in Hindi, those things change based on whom you are speaking with and context. They don’t use them as separate languages, they use what we think of as separate languages in unified sorta way.

      An Indian might be, for example, fluent in English and Hindi. However they would likely speak to the doctor in Hindi about a personal problem, but if dealing with a cell phone contract they would do it in English. That is just one example of many.

      • 0 avatar

        Thanks, very interesting.

      • 0 avatar

        Jimbobjoe, very interesting indeed. It’s funny how these things mesh. In the Philippines, tagalog (a recent language itself, that mixed the predominant local languages with some Spanish and English) uses almost always local words for adjectives with negative connotation, while those with a positive meaning are taken from Spanish.

      • 0 avatar

        So…. sorta like Spanglish and/or Franglais.

        • 0 avatar

          Yes. But they might throw in one or two other extra languages depending on circumstances.

          It’s possible that a resident of Mumbai, originally from, say, Kerala, would play with English, Hindi, Marathi (language of the state of Maharashtra, where Mumbai is located) and Malayalam (the language of Kerala.) If the speaker is talking to someone who knows all four as well (a family member under similar circumstances) they might well play with all four.

  • avatar

    The unifying common language of India is English. When India achieved its independence in 1947, Nehru, the prime Minister addressed the people in English.

    Also, the Fiat 1100 was well-regarded in its day as a sure-footed, sporty little sedan.

  • avatar

    Poor little car .

    Interesting comments , I see much hand done metal works and restoration parts in and From India , some of it is really good , some not so much .

    I’ve been using the copied Lucas generators from India for over a decade now in my old British cars , they’re greatly improved and have top quality plus dirt cheap @ $99 brandy new and on the shelf anywhere in America , making Vintage LBC touring that much better .

    They love their Enfield Bullet Motos too .


  • avatar

    I always wonder what it is that causes the owners of these cars to finally give up on them. Are they moving to a place where they can’t store the car, or does the lady of the house finally get the upper hand, or do they eventually realize that they aren’t one of the few of us who have the time, money, shop space, tools, skills, and inclination to actually restore the thing?

    Or maybe they look up the value of a similar car in good condition and realize they’d be better off buying a running example?

    • 0 avatar

      Another, more likely possiblity is that they die off; and their heirs have it hauled away for scrap; to them, it is just junk that has probrably been sitting there for years.

  • avatar

    I think this the Fiat from my childhood in the form of a green Matchbox sedan with luggage on the roof. Nice lines and one of my favs, alongside the Mercedes Ambulance and Mercury Colony Park wagon.

  • avatar

    Arghh! This is my first car, not the actual one, but just like it. Mine was way more rusted than this one when I sold it in 1970. It liked going around corners sideways and burned lot’s of oil. Oh yeah, I lived in West Bloomfield, MI at the time.

  • avatar

    I read the Wikipedia article and it seems the Indian version was always made by the Indian company. It also says it was considered the sportier version of the Hindustan Ambassador.

    Were these cars officially sold in the US? By Fiat? I also wonder who would keep such a car around. Thanks for the Multipla linked. Crazy if you think about it. I mean in Europe it’d already be difficult to keep the car running, but in San Francisco?

    • 0 avatar

      I wonder if the car was in storage for decades.

      I had two neighbors who had old cars that they were meaning to restore. One was a late 60s or early 70’s Camaro, the other was a mid 70’s rubber bumpered MGB. The MGB sat outside for a number of years, finally collecting a citation from the city for being a derelict vehicle. The owner then got it licensed and for a while would occasionally drive it. Eventually it resumed its status as a driveway decoration and stayed that way until their divorce got it moved.

      The Camaro sat in the owner’s garage all the six or so years they lived in that house. When the owner got transferred, he sold it to another neighbor’s brother, who actually had the ability to restore it. Hopefully by now it’s a nice restomod. Being a middling spec Camaro with a three speed automatic it wouldn’t bring the money that it cost to restore it if it were restored to original specification.

      At least it had some value, a rusty rubber bumper MGB is only worth whatever parts you can get off of it.

      • 0 avatar

        Could be, or the owner is some weird type. I have an aunto who lives in a nice big house whose next door neighbor is a big old house that is always in some state of disrepair, mainly broken fixtures. She moved there in the 70s and in front of that house sat a battered late 40s or early 50s Buick. Sometime in the 80s the car was taken into the front yard of that neighbor’s house and sits there behind the gates. Over time the windows have been bashed in by hail storm. Now some cats live in the car. My aunt has lived there for 40 yrs now and she says she’s seen the neighbor less than 20 times. He doesn’t seem to work and he receives visits very, very rarely, like 3 times a year. She says he’s younger than her, appears to live alone, so the car probably belonged to someone else.

        I see that sad Buick everyone in a while when we visit.

  • avatar

    The Fiat 1100 was very successful in its time. Not only in India but also in Germany (NSU Fiat) and Austria (Steyr Fiat) there were licensed versions of Fiat cars available. Here is a link (in German, with lot of pics: that shows the history of this car (you can also find the US specs, in English, of course):

  • avatar
    Ron B.

    They must have sold a lot of 1100s in the US because A look on ebay brings up lots of New old stock parts for sale there. I see that a lot of vendors sell repro stuff for them too and it’s all quite cheap. I found a 1100 here in my home city just a couple of months ago. An 1100 TV convertible,very much down at heel and destined to stay that way because the owner had an offer of $39,000 for it’s rusty carcase …

    • 0 avatar
      Joe McKinney

      In the late 1950’s and early 1960’s the 1100 and 600 were imported and sold in decent numbers, though few have survived. When I was a small child my Father owned a 600.

  • avatar

    I’d like to see Murilee find a X1/9 again.

    Or a 124 that isn’t a Sport Spyder.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s probably easier to find a Lada in North America than the 124 Sedan on which it was based. Fiat didn’t use much rustproofing back in the ’70s. My dad came this close to getting a 128 when you could get them for about $2,000 so I paid attention to the Fiat line. The 124 was an honest and competent car sabotaged by the fact that it was a Fiat.

    • 0 avatar

      I love X-1/9s. During the early and middle 80’s I worked for a dealership that sold Mazdas and Fiats. Since none of the Fiats were all that easy to sell, many of us has them as demos, and I often got an X-1/9. Not much power, and not that much ultimate grip, but exquisite balance and perfect road feel from the unassisted brakes and steering. Tight inside as well, I have a 34 inch inseam and sat in the car with my knees splayed out, otherwise they’d be in the steering wheel.

      The X-1/9 and the first generation Mazda RX-7 are still my favorite street cars. The have enough grip to be fun but not so much as to make every corner a nonevent. Most of today’s cars have so much capability that you can’t get anywhere close to the limit without endangering your fellow motorists and pedestrians.

  • avatar

    I’m glad we finally got around to talking FIATs on this thread.
    Stanguellini made some great sports cars using a hot-rodded version of the 1100 motor.
    Marcelo’s neighbors to the south, FIAT Argentina produced variants of this car.

    Obligatory Indian comment: Classic Garage sells Indian made copies of Lucas and Cibie Z beam H4 headlights which are really quite good.

  • avatar

    Is it just coincidence that it looks like a Trabant?

    • 0 avatar

      Both cars are childs of the same time, so there might be common design elements although I can’t really detect them.
      Fiat was first (1953), Trabant was second (1957), Fiat 1100 was designed as a 4-door from the very beginning, the Trabant as a 2-door.
      Compare for yourself:
      a) Fiat:
      b) Trabant:

  • avatar
    The Dark One

    A car like this one was the ONLY new car my father ever purchased, and was responsible for him only buying used vehicles afterward. It frequently broke down, and he had to wait as long as 3 months for replacement parts to arrive from Italy . He finally traded it in for a slightly used Beetle and drove German cars exclusively for the next 2 decades.

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