Heir to the Fiat off-road tradition
With this vehicle Iveco puts an era-defining means of transport back on the road: “the go-anywhere vehicle that doesn’t need a road” as an advertising slogan put it in 1951, the year the Fiat Campagnola was launched.
The memory of the legendary light military vehicles used during the second world war still fresh in the memory: the Willys proved themselves an ideal means of support and reconnaissance. Inspired by this formula, the Italian government ran a competition for special-use vehicles. The history of Campagnola, an icon of Fiat off-road vehicles, is linked, in post-war Italy with that of its ‘twin’ Alfa Romeo. Fiat and Alfa separately designed two analogous models, named in military terms AR 51 (the abbreviation is short for ‘Autoveicoli da Ricognizione’ and the number a reference to its year of introduction of 1951) both with 1900 cm3 engines. For civilian use, Fiat chose the less aggressive name of Campagnola and its Milanese ‘rival’ was called Matta (like the joker in a pack of cards). Only the Campagnola met with extraordinary success, while the Alfa 4x4 was produced up to 1955 with only 2059 units produced. The decisive factor in determining the preference for the Fiat model was its price, the Alfa featured much more expensive technology, inaccessible to public bodies.
The Campagnola D, designed by Dante Giacosa and constructed according to the Willys mould, debuted at the Fiera del Levante show in Bari in 1951 at a price of 1,600,000 lire. It had a front mounted engine, 4 driven wheels with disengagable front driven wheels and a transfer box. In November 1951 it crossed Africa from Cape Town to Algiers in 11 days, 4 hours and 54 minutes, overcoming every possible adversity and establishing the world record. The Campagnola, with petrol engine rated at 53hp at 5,300 rpm, 4 speed and reverse transmission, (II, III and IV synchronized), lockable rear differential, central gearshift lever and top speed of 100km/h. with a gradeability of 90% (in first gear) and consumed an average of 12.1 litres per 100km. The body was 3.64m long and 1.48 wide and weighed 1,250kg. The front suspension was independent with wishbones, helical springs, hydraulic dampers and stabilizing bar. In short, the best available at that time. The rear suspension was by leaf springs with a rigid axle and hydraulic dampers. The AR 51 military version was also adopted by the Carabinieri.
1953 saw the appearance of the 40hp 3200 rpm diesel version (still 1.9) offering 85km/h at a price of 1,792,000 lire.
In 1955 came the Campagnola A (AR 55) with more powerful 63hp (116 km/h) petrol engine and 43hp diesel model, in 1960 the Campagnola B with 47hp diesel engine, reaching 95 km/h. The Fiat off-road was able to carry 6 people with more than 60kg of luggage, or one person with 410kg of luggage.
1968 was the turn of the C Diesel: a 1895cc, 47 hp engine developing at 3,800 rpm, 96 km/h. The production of the first Campagnola ceased in 1973, following the production of 39,086 models, of which 7,783 models were diesel.
The summer 1974 saw the debut of the new Campagnola, manufactured until 1979. Much more technically advanced it was also a much more comfortable model: it could transport up to 7 people. It was launched at the Belgrade Show and retained only the name of its predecessor. It was a modern vehicle with engines already proven on the Fiat 132, independent four wheel suspension and automotive bodywork. Optional features included locking differentials on both axles and improved tyres, dual-joint front driveshafts rear seats and a ventilation system. The engine had 4 cylinders inline of 1,995 cm3 swept volume rated at 80hp at 4,600rpm, 4 speed and reverse transmission, (fully synchronized), central gearshift lever and a top speed of 115 km/h. The new Campagnola was 3.77m long and 1.58 wide and weighed 1,570kg when empty. It had a selling prico of 4,076,000 lire. The ‘Torpedo Corta’ version features roof and sides in removable fabric.
In 1976 the ‘Lunga’ (with an increased rear of 25cm overhang) and ‘Hardtop’ (with completely metallic bodywork) versions were introduced.
In autumn 1979 Fiat replaced the engine of the new Campagnola with a new diesel engine more suited for off-road use: the 2-litre SOFIM provided 60hp at 4,200 rpm and guaranteed a top speed of 120km/h. There have been numerous enhancements to its bodywork and interior. The list price ranged from 14,018,000 to 15,198,000 lire according to the version. Production of Campagnola ceased in 1987.
The Campagnola held particular significance for post-war Italy and during the reconstruction of the 1950s. It was a means of transport that defined an era in a country still lacking an adequate road infrastructure and is still alive in the memories of Italians. Used by the Carabinieri, the Italian army and the Civil Defence Corps and also became famous as the Popemobile, the white livery model featuring the Vatican insignia. The one used by Benedict XVI for his first official outing in the crowds of the Piazza San Pietro is the same one that was donated to John Paul II on the occasion of his visit to Turin in 1980 and accompanied the public appearances of Karol Wojtyla who introduced - also thanks to this vehicle – a new way of communicating with people. Also in white, but with the UN logo, the Campagnola has participated on numerous international peace missions throughout the continents.