Rare Rides: A Fiat 125 Vignale Samantha From 1969

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

The Rare Rides series has featured a string of two-door vehicles lately, with representation from marques around the globe. Today’s Rare Ride is sleek and also has two doors. It hailed from the Vignale factory around the same time as the 850 featured here.

Let’s check out a very rare 125 Vignale Samantha.

Much like the upright and rebodied 850, the 125 Samantha was based on a family car made by Fiat. When it entered production in 1967, the 125 took its place in the Fiat line as a large family sedan. Not considered a luxury model, it was less expensive than the 1800.

Fiat was ahead of the curve with the 125, as it imbued its family car with a sporty personality. For its entire run, the only power offered in the 125 was a 1.6-liter DOHC inline-four. Initially the model used a four-speed manual, but a five-speed joined the lineup very quickly. For the less sporting, there was a three-speed automatic. Those gearboxes typically delivered the 90 carbureted horses to the rear wheels in standard trim.

Customers paid more for the Special trim 125S if they wished for a five-speed in their family hauler. The Special had revised camshafts, manifold, cylinder heads, and a different carburetor for an even 100 horsepower. However, it was the S version which caught Vignale’s interest.

Vignale designer Virginio Vairo was employed to work up a coupe body for the 125. His most famed designs were all in the late Sixties, and all coupes: the Maserati Mexico, Fiat 124 Eveline, a Matra prototype, and the Maserati Indy. The body he designed looked entirely different from the upright 125 sedan. Smooth lines were all drawn rearward, and the swept front fascia included pop-up headlamps. The rear deck was formed around the sedan’s light clusters and contained triple portholes on either side. Changes to the interior were minimal, and included revised rear door panels.

The 125 proved very popular, and Fiat built 603,877 before production ended in 1972. Other companies built it under license as a Zastava, FSO Polonez, or a Nasr in Egypt. Said licensed production carried on in some form through 1991. But the Vignale Samantha was built for a very short time, with production totaling around 100 units.

Today’s blue Rare Ride is for sale in Germany. In excellent condition, it asks just $44,000.

[Images: seller]

Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis

Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Started writing articles for TTAC in late 2016, when my first posts were QOTDs. From there I started a few new series like Rare Rides, Buy/Drive/Burn, Abandoned History, and most recently Rare Rides Icons. Operating from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio, a relative auto journalist dead zone. Many of my articles are prompted by something I'll see on social media that sparks my interest and causes me to research. Finding articles and information from the early days of the internet and beyond that covers the little details lost to time: trim packages, color and wheel choices, interior fabrics. Beyond those, I'm fascinated by automotive industry experiments, both failures and successes. Lately I've taken an interest in AI, and generating "what if" type images for car models long dead. Reincarnating a modern Toyota Paseo, Lincoln Mark IX, or Isuzu Trooper through a text prompt is fun. Fun to post them on Twitter too, and watch people overreact. To that end, the social media I use most is Twitter, @CoreyLewis86. I also contribute pieces for Forbes Wheels and Forbes Home.

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