Basic motoring

The Evolution of the Modern Ultralight Economy car.

Chapter 4 Europe in the 1970's


Trebant 601

Trabant 601
From the beginning of the nineteen-seventies cars with exclusively engines up to one litre were few in number as manufacturers attempted to maximise their model range with a range of engine sizes while keeping the number of actual models down, fitting engines from one litre up to 1.7 litres diesels, therefore making many of them heavier and outside the range of  the ultralight car. An extreme case being the Citroen Visa with an engine size range of 652 cc to1.7 litres. As models mentioned previously grew in size or had larger engines options added I have dropped them from this narrative as I don’t consider them true ultralight economy cars. There were still cars with modest engine capacities being produced in Europe; but fewer new new models compared to previous times. The Citroen Ami 6 and 2CV both with a 602 cc engine the former only made until 1971 and the latter with many years of production ahead of it, and another the Renault 4 with twenty more years of production ahead of it. Fiat was still making 600D, 850 and the 500L  the final version of that outstanding little car, all would be replaced by 1975. In eastern Europe production of the Trabant 601 was well underway and would continue until1989. New versions of the Wartburg  with a new body the 353 and later the Knight were produced from 1966 to 1988 and was the final example of the European two stroke triple engined cars. In Britain the mark 2 version of the Mini was introduced in 1967 and had the option of 998 cc engine and came with the Hydrolastic springing system linking the front and rear wheels hydraulically. A Mark 2 Mini Cooper now with disc brakes was also produced from 1967 to 1969. Over two million Mark 1 and 2 Minis were made in the first ten years of production to1969. A re-styled Mini the Clubman was produced from1969 to 1982  with the option of the one litre engine or one of 1098 cc. As well as models already in production at the end of the 1960s there were also some new models. Hillman began making the Husky an estate version of the Imp in 1967, it was only made for three year while continuing with an updated Imp the Super Imp which was made until 1976. In the same year Citroen began making the Dyane which had the 2CV chassis with a 603 cc engine and a more refined body although still fairly basic, even so they sold almost one and a half million by1984. Renault introduced the front wheel drive 6, in 1968, it utilise the R4 platform and the 845 cc engine until 1970 after then a1108 cc version was also available. The 6 was in production until 1980 in France ; but was made in Spain and Argentina until 1986.

Citroen Dyane                                                                                                                                                                                      Citroen Dyane
Fiat was the most prolific European producer of new models at the end of the nineteen sixties and in the nineteen seventies. The Fiat subsidiary Autobianchi  introduced their A112 model  that used a smaller version of the Fiat 128 platform in  1969 and it was made until 1986 . Over 1.2 million A112”s were produced in the Autobianchi Milan factory. This was the first Fiat front wheel drive small car using a transversely mounted engine derived from the 850 model in sizes from 903 cc to 1050cc. The Fiat 127 derived from A112 arrived in 1971 and was only available with 903 cc engine until 1977, in later years larger engine option were also available. It proved a very popular car and as well as Italy in was made in Spain by SEAT, in Poland by FSM as the 127p and also in Brazil. Fiat had not given up on the rear engined car and in 1972 introduced their 126 model as a replacement for the 500. It had an all new body shell and used components from the latest 500 including the 592 cc engine, this was increased to 652 cc in 1977. It was made in Italy until 1080 and in Poland as the 126p by FSM from 1973 to 1987 with almost two million produced. SEAT began producing their 133 model in 1974and continued in production until 1982, it was effectively an 850 with a new body shell and had ether the 843 cc or 903 cc Fiat derived four cylinder engine. To summarise, in the late sixties and the beginning of seventies European manufacturers produced a varied range of small cars, with two,three and for cylinder engines some located at the rear driving the rear wheels but an increasing proportion with the engine at the front driving the front wheels, Fiat were producing new models of both types well into the nineteen seventies. The front engines rear wheel drive small car had almost disappeared with only the low production Reliant Kitten on offer. The Kitten model with an 848 cc engine, made between 1975 and 1982 did little better than the previous Reliant small cars with just over four thousand made, it being the last of an old concept as far as the economy cars were concerned.


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