Guilherme Augusto Veras with his Fiat Premio

​An award-winning sedan still coveted after 35 years

In its 35 years, Fiat Prêmio still impresses for its huge trunk, comfort and robustness, qualities recognized by public and critics

March 26 2020 - A sedan version of the Fiat Uno? Yes, the Fiat Prêmio is derived from the award-winning hatch, but summing it up to just that is unfair to the car, which is completing 35 years of history this March. With almost 190,000 units produced at the Fiat Automotive Plant in Betim (MG, Brazil) between 1985 and 1995, the vehicle — which was also made in Argentina until 2001 under the name Duna — is still a reference today for the large 530-liter trunk, great driving experience and high level of comfort. These attributes gave the Prêmio awards such as "Car of the Year 1986" by the prestigious magazine Autoesporte.

Refined and very well equipped for the time and its segment, the Fiat Prêmio had 1.3, 1.5 and 1.6 engines throughout its trajectory and innovated by bringing an equipment considered trivial today, but rather new in the 1980s: the on-board computer. For the top-of-the-line versions, its instrument frame even indicated tire pressure, which many cars still don't have today. Not to mention the classic square design, which continues to arouse admiration.

Eduardo Pereira with his 1989 Fiat Prêmio completely originalPassionate about old cars, Eduardo has in his collection a 1989 Fiat Prêmio and a 1996 Fiat Elba. His next plan? To have other Fiat classics in his garage.

"What I like most about the Prêmio is the aesthetics. Fiat has this tradition of square cars and that's basically what made me a fan of the car", says the accountant and collector of old vehicles Eduardo Alves Pereira, 46, owner of a four-door 1989 Fiat Prêmio 1989 SL 1.3.

Eduardo has several models in his collection, but confesses that the vehicles of the Italian automaker deserve his special affection. "If I were a millionaire, I'd have a copy of every old Fiat. They were the cars I saw most on the street as a kid, so driving one of these makes me go back to the 1980s and 1990s. It's nostalgic, very good," he explains.

Eduardo's search for a Prêmio in good condition was motivated by another Fiat car. "I bought a 1996 Elba from a friend and fell in love with the station wagon. That's when I thought, 'why not have a couple?' I started searching and found this 1989 Prêmio totally original. I'm the second owner, and I can prove it. His document contained the previous license plate the yellow one for that time", he points out, in reference to the oldest standard of vehicle registration plates in Brazil.

Another aficionado who has great memories of the Fiat Prêmio during childhood is the cargo transportation driver Guilherme Augusto Veras (cover photo), 27 years old. "My father had a 1988 CS Prêmio. Unfortunately, I didn't find one identical to my father's, but I'm completely in love with my 1991 S 1.3 Prêmio."

For Veras, the robustness of the Fiat Prêmio makes it a vehicle of respect to this day. "It’s a brave car! I've seen people carrying up water tanks in a Fiat Prêmio. It's got strength and room. It might be small in measurements compared to current cars, but this is good because it fits in tight spaces", he praises.

"Fiat Prêmio Sporting"

How about an updated passion with new technologies? The Fiat Prêmio that store manager Sérgio Shigueo Ougaki, 30, got from his father was fully customized and received numerous resources to be, in the design of its owner, the Prêmio that did not go out of line. "Originally, it was a blue 1991 SL 1.6 Prêmio, which at the time only had alarm and automatic door locks. Today, it has items such as digital instrument panel, cameras for parking assistance, engine start button, trunk that opens by itself by putting your foot under the rear bumper and even locking and opening doors with an app on a smartphone", he reveals.

Sérgio Ougaki and his customized Fiat PrêmioAfter five years of dedication, Sérgio finished his "Fiat Prêmio Sporting", which even has engine start button.

Named by the owner as Fiat Prêmio Sporting — nomenclature used by Fiat for the sports appeal versions of models such as Bravo, Palio and Punto —the customized sedan follows the line of the latest Fiat Mille externally and has the same interior as the Palio Sporting. "Seatbelts, seats, panel... the whole cabin is identical to that of the Palio's, and I did pretty much everything myself in my garage. Only the new painting and the installation of a turbo kit in the engine were made in a specialized workshop", details Sérgio.

The Prêmio Sporting took five years to be exactly the way Sérgio wanted it. "The idea of the project came about in 2010, when I decided to pay more attention to the car I got from my father when I turned 18. That Prêmio, by the way, was his, so our story is very long and selling it is out of the question", he emphasizes. He uses the car on a day-to-day basis.

Eduardo Pereira’s totally original Fiat Prêmio is another car that doesn’t have a chance of being sold. "I don't think about selling it in the first place, because I love my sedan. Second, because it would be very difficult to find another one in such good condition. Mine is a four-door high front grille, quite rare. I really want to have another older version, the two-door Prêmio with satellite controls on the dashboard," he says.

Fiat Oggi’s Successor, the Prêmio was exported to other countries in Latin America (besides Argentina) and even to Italy, and went out of line in Brazil to make room for the Siena, which is still in Fiat's portfolio (such as Grand Siena). Currently, the main representative of the brand in the sedan segment is the Fiat Cronos, which preserves the qualities of the veteran Prêmio and advances in technology and style, with the right to the state-of-the-art multimedia center and even the factory version with sports appeal.

Words: Leandro Alvares

Pictures: Marketing / Personal Archives

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