Historic Truck Brands
Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino (Italian Automobile Factory of Turin), is an Italian vehicle and engine manufacturing, financial and industrial group based in Turin. Fiat was founded in 1899 by Giovanni Agnelli and a consortium of investors. The Agnelli family remains the controlling shareholder in Fiat.
The first Fiat truck arrived in 1903: a COE 3.5 tonner, powered by a 6.3-litre, 24hp petrol engine. The transmission was located amidships, with shaft connection to the engine and chain drives to the rear axle.
In 1906 it was joined by a five-tonner, powered by a 7.4-litre, 40hp engine and this chassis was used for 36-seat, double-deck buses that had water-cooled transmission braking.
Before World War One, Fiat trucks were being built under licence in Austria.
During the War Fiats were used extensively and a new model, the Type 30, was introduced, with 5-7-tons capacity. A military 20B truck and tractor model was developed, with a pulling capacity of 40 tons.
War surplus vehicles kept sales and development slow until the mid-1920s, when Fiat introduced new 2.5-ton trucks and 50-seat buses, with four- and six-cylinder, side-valve engines.
In 1925 Fiat acquired truck-maker SPA, which concentrated at the heavier end of the payload scale, while Fiat concentrated on the lighter end. Licence deals were done with Russia and Japan’s Mitsubishi.
The Fiat 631 of 1929 was a six-cylinder, three-axle truck with fully enclosed cab, wind-up side windows, windscreen wipers and…an optional heater.
In 1931, Fiat bought out Ceirano and the 640 double-deck, 6×4 bus, with seven-litre, six-cylinder petrol power, was released. It boasted Westinghouse servo brakes and a transmission handbrake.
The first Fiat diesels were also launched in 1931: the four-ton 632 and six-ton 634, along with the 635 diesel bus.
OM was bought out in 1933 and the petrol engines were gradually phased out.
Just before Word War Two, Fiat introduced a new 70-105hp diesel range, with payloads up to 6.5 tons and featuring five-speed transmissions and air/hydraulic braking.
After the War, during which all Fiat’s output was for military purposes, Fiat cranked up civilian production once more and released a 100-seat trolley bus and the 666 6×4 prime mover that was rated to haul 32 tons. It was powered by a 9.4-litre, 113hp diesel, driving through a 10-speed transmission.
The snub-nosed 615 1.5-2.5-ton range was introduced in 1951, with independent front suspension and its original 1.4-litre petrol passenger car engine was replaced by a diesel in 1954.
The legendary Fiat 682 was launched in 1952, with a 10.2-litre diesel and was upgraded in 1954 with a 10.7-litre, 140hp engine. This models was still being built 36 years later, for some export markets. Also in 1954, Fiat announced a new 401UM underfloor-engine, 80-passenger city bus with front and rear entrances.
By 1958, some Fiat diesels were turbocharged and a new bonneted line-up with 4-5-ton payloads and 4.7-litre, six-cylinder diesel power was announced. The bus range picked up electro-pneumatic transmissions, power steering and air suspensions.
In 1960 the 690 model was released, with 210hp, six-cylinder, 12.9-litre engine. Four years later came the 693 6×4 prime mover, rated at 38 tons GCM and at the boom end of the expanding Fiat range, the 625 three-tonner, with 2.7-litre diesel.
In 1966 Fiat acquired the French company, Unic and, two years later, Autobianchi and Lancia.
By the early 1970s, production was diversified, with light commercials being built by Fiat’s passenger car plants; OM handling vehicles in the 3-10-tons range; Unic building the 10-16-tonners and SPA building the ‘heavies’. The 619 was the first Fiat tilt-cab.
In 1973 Fiat and Citroen jointly developed a 1.75-ton forward control van that both brands marketed.
Iveco was formed in 1975, after Fiat merged with Magirus-Deutz, but the 1976 release – the 170 and 190 – were all-Fiat. The 190 was powered by a 17.2-litre, 330hp diesel V8. The first fruits of the Iveco co-operation were a 38-ton 320M19 prime mover with 320hp Magirus-Deutz V10 air-cooled engine and a range of 4×4, 6×4 and 6×6 dump trucks that were designed by Magirus-Deutz, but powered by Fiat engines.
The first 3/4-ton Fiat Daily was launched in 1978, with a 2.4-litre diesel engine and torsion-bar, independent front suspension.
In 1984 the Iveco TurboStar was launched, with a choice of 330hp, turbocharged ,13.8-litre six, or 420hp, turbocharged, 17.2-litre V8. Transmissions were either 13-speed Roadranger or 16-speed synchromesh ZF.
Fiat in Australia
Before the formation of Iveco, Fiat Trucks were distributed in Australia. They never achieved wide acceptance, but most commonly seen models were the 130, 684 and 170.
Iveco made the decision in the mid-1980s to improve its marketing position in South East Asia and the Pacific Rim. Experience with exporting European-specification Fiats to Australia had shown that this process wouldn’t work: needed was a local assembly facility, to incorporate durability-proved components.
International Trucks Australia – formerly International Harvester Australia – had been cut loose by its refinanced parent in the USA, Navistar. ITA was also in need of a new COE range to replace the ACCO-based T-Line. The marriage of Iveco COEs and ITA seemed to be a good fit.
In 1989, ITA launched the Fiat-derived F3470 and F4470 models in Australia, badged International TurboStar and rated at 45 tonnes GCM. Both were powered by the 13.8-litre six, at 310hp and 355hp, respectively. Transmissions were 13-speed Roadrangers and drive tandems were Rockwell, on International four-spring, rocker suspensions.
After Iveco purchased ITA in 1992, the F5470, with 476hp, V8 power joined the lineup, with an 18-speed box and 60-tonnes GCM rating, for B-Double work.
The TurboStar range was replaced by the Eurotech and Eurostar models in 1995, with Iveco badging. The bonneted Powerstar used the same cab.