Wednesday 1st November 1972
The Fiat 126 and Lotus Esprit Concept car were both unveiled at the Turin Motor Show.
The Fiat 126 used much of the same mechanical underpinnings and layout as its Fiat 500 rear-engined predecessor with which it shared its wheelbase, but featured an all new bodyshell closely resembling a scaled-down Fiat 127. Engine capacity was increased from 594 cc to 652 cc at the end of 1977 when the cylinder bore was increased from 73.5 to 77 mm. Claimed power output was unchanged at 23 PS (17 kW), but torque was increased from 39 N·m (29 lb·ft) to 43 newton metres (32 lb·ft). The 594 cc engines were still available in early 1983 production. In Italy, the car was produced in the plants of Cassino and Termini Imerese until 1979. By this time 1,352,912 of the cars had been produced in Italy. The car continued however to be manufactured by FSM in Poland, where it was produced from 1973 to 2000 as the Polski Fiat 126p.
Often referred to as the “Silver Car”, the Lotus Esprit Concept car was designed by Giuguaro from Ital Design. Work began on the car in mid-1971, and was completed before the end of the year, as a full-size mock-up. A second more advanced car, based on the Europa chassis, followed in 1972. It was originally dubbed as special-bodied Europa, as it was built on a lengthened, widened version of the Europa’s steel backbone chassis, with a longer wheelbase. The response from the public at the Turin Motor show was positive, so Colin Chapman decide to put the car into production. The final design for the M70 was completed in the latter half of 1973. Many details of the Europa-based prototype remained in the final Lotus Esprit production car.