Reliability and sturdiness, after almost seventy years are still two qualities deeply linked to the Fiat 682, which over time has become one of the most popular Italian trucks in the world. Its fame was so great that it soon crossed the border, so much so that it was designated the “King of Africa”. Let’s find out more about the history of this historic vehicle from Fiat Veicoli Industriali and some interesting facts about this magnificent truck.
Fiat 682: the Turin-based truck that also conquered Africa
With the new regulations on the maximum capacity allowed for trucks in Italy, introduced in the second half of the 20th century, the Turin-based company had to set to work to study a new model that complied with them. For this reason, the Fiat technicians designed a vehicle that would soon become one of the most famous of the manufacturer: the Fiat 682. Also known as Fiat 82, it went down in history as one of the most reliable and robust trucks ever built by Fiat, resisting time and the wear and tear of kilometers, and transmitting safety to those who chose it, thus conquering Europe, Africa and even the cinema, as we shall see.
A record-breaking story: the Fiat 682
In 1952 in Italy, following the Geneva Convention of 1949 on road traffic, a new Highway Code was introduced, with new regulations on the capacity of trucks. For this reason, Fiat decided to replace the 680, which had become obsolete, with a new vehicle that could meet the needs of goods transport that characterized the post-war period and reconstruction.
Thus was born the new Fiat 682 N model, which won the record for permanence in the production lines, despite the introduction of the 683 series in 1966, the 684 in 1971 and the 160 in 1976: 36 uninterrupted years, from 1952 to 1988. Gaining an unparalleled reputation for robustness, reliability and incredible adaptability, the Fiat 682 truck first conquered Europe and then Africa, where, incredibly, even today it is still possible to catch a glimpse of a few examples, manufactured locally or imported directly from Italy. The fame of the 682 was such that it also characterized the cultural sector and, specifically, the film industry. In 1975, in fact, this legendary truck managed to make its way into the world of cinema. It was the “protagonist” of the film Il Bestione by Sergio Corbucci, starring Giancarlo Giannini and Michel Constantin. Let’s see what are its characteristics, which made it so important for the world of transport in those years.
Technical characteristics of the Fiat 682
The first model of the Fiat 682 was produced by the Turin company in 1952, with a six-cylinder engine, 10.17 liters of displacement and 122 mm of piston bore, similar to the Fiat 680. The only version produced was a 4×2 truck (four wheels, two of which are driven), with a wheelbase of 3.8 meters and a capacity of 14 tons, to meet the new requirements on the capacity of trucks introduced by the Italian Highway Code.
The debut of the Fiat 682 N, however, was not a happy one. At the beginning, in fact, the new heavy vehicle of the Turin company brought with it several defects both compared to the model 680 N, the predecessor with greater reliability and power, and compared to the competition. These defects were essentially related to the fragility of the engine, due to the head with only two valves per cylinder and to the bushings. To solve these problems, the first changes came in 1953, when the 122 engine was replaced by the 125, which, as requested by the hauliers, made it much more reliable and durable than its predecessor.
A year later, in 1954, Fiat Veicoli Industriali decided to apply new improvements to the vehicle, thus presenting the new Fiat 682 N2 truck. Like its predecessors, this model did not have power steering, but it was the first of the series to be equipped with the new Fiat 203 engine, which replaced the 125. The characteristics of the Fiat 203 were considered record-breaking for the historical period: six cylinders in line with overhead valve timing and direct injection of 10,676 cm³, 140 hp at 1,900 rpm and a full load mass of 14 tons.
It was the new engine that made the Fiat 682 N2 famous beyond the Italian borders, thanks to its reliability, robustness and strength. But the changes did not end there. The new model, spacious in spite of the engine tunnel and equipped with large windows on the sides, also brought success to the famous rounded cab called «a baffo»: a new and advanced Fiat cab, characterized by the transverse chrome bar introduced to optically lighten the front grille and which soon became the emblem of Fiat trucks from 1955 to 1975.
The last version, the Fiat 682 N4, debuted in 1967 with a further enhanced engine: characterized by a displacement of 11,548 cm³, it was able to develop a maximum power of 178 hp and maximum torque at 900 rpm, like the 682 N3. Other innovations concerned the transmission components, which were strengthened for better power support, and the square mesh front grille.
In addition to the Fiat 682 N series, those marked with the letter T were also produced, to indicate the models intended for towing semi-trailers. In 1960, moreover, the Turin-based company also introduced the 682 N2 S and 682 T2 S models, with a turbocharged engine. Although these models were characterized by a higher power, which reached 180 hp, the recurring problems of overheating due to the lack of heat exchanger compromised its reliability.
The incredible story of the Fiat 682 ended in 1988 with the production and the exit from the assembly line of the last example. Its fame, however, did not end and it is still able to shine the eyes of fans of the industry who are lucky enough to see some examples around Italy or abroad.