You don't need to be introduced
to the Panda. You already know it. Its small - well smallish, cute -
well cutish, basic - well not always, a family work horse - well in
a tight squeeze you might get half a family in there, Utilitarian -
yes it definitely does the job whatever you may decide that should be.
It has its own style, its own approach and a car that will give you
back more than you put into it. You know it's also unique. If I wanted
to start a pizza delivery business this is the car I'd choose for the
fleet when the mopeds couldn't cope.
Because like it or not the
Panda is one of those cars that's crept into your psychy - you already
know about the Panda without having studied it. You've already registered
its biscuit tin-like slab sidedness, its too angular edges, its lack
of glass, big grill and small hatch and big doors. How can a car be
both out of proportion and still make visual sense, and do it all at
once like this? Is this accident or genius? Well the Panda was designed
by Giugiaro so you can forget the accident thing.
Is it the car of your dreams?
No. Is it the car for your family? No. Is it a car for none car people?
Perhaps - it will sit quietly and doesn't shout its presence. You probably
bought one when you couldn't afford much more than peanuts. It probably
broke down once in a big way - but you met someone very interesting
because of it. And now you look back and think 'Wow I did all that and
thought nothing of it in those days'.... and then realise the car was
there doing it all with you. Then someone will say 'Rusty heap of junk'
- but we know differently. That's the Panda! Replace it? You can't.
The Panda was launched in
1980 and has had a bewildering array of versions and re styles ever
since. It started life as the '30' and '45' - which as usual with Fiats
denotes the power output of the engines. The engines in the Panda read
like a whose who of Fiat small cars. The 30 was a twin cylinder 652cc
- derived from the air cooled 126 engine. The 903cc 45 unit came from
the 127. In 1982 the '34' arrived with a 843cc unit from the Fiat 850.
All three models were produced
until 1984 Then a re styling Panda was introduced with revised
trim levels 'L' and 'CL' for each version.
Meanwhile the Panda was branching
out. In 1982 the Panda Super was announced with re styled grill, revised
trim and seats and an optional five speed box. Then in 1983 Steyr of
Austria collaborated with Fiat to produce a four wheel drive design.
Its 965cc engine was derived from the Lancia A112 Elite (also known
as the Autobianchi A112).
Then in 1986 came a real breakthrough
for the models. The Pandas received the new FIRE (Fully Integrated Robotised
Engine) 769cc and 999cc engines. These versions also had a new coil
over rear axle to replace the original cart spring type. Alongside the
FIRE engines was a new 1301cc diesel - that was on sale before the end
of 1986. Want a summary of the FIRE Brigade? - click
From 1989 special editions
were introduced - as well as the re-introduction of the 903cc push rod
engined version. In the UK these editions included the Fizz, Dance,
Bella, and Fun. In 1990 special editions continued with the Top
Ten, Bianca, and Nera. In 1991 the 1000 Estivale was issued.
The under rated 4x4 had special
editions too - Sisley in 1987. and Trekking in 1990. An Elettra battery
version was launched in the same year.
In 1991 the whole range was
revised again. The new Panda range was extended to include 7 different
engines including some with catalysts and fuel injection. These variants
also recieved the revised Fiat grill size - in line with all the nineties
cars. The new range also included Selecta automatics with 1000cc carb
or 1100cc injection engines.
Then SEAT were licensed to
run a parallel production of the Panda - the Marbella.