Founded in Italy in the late 1890s by a consortium led by Giovanni Agnelli, the Fiat (Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino) automotive group is a name that is today known around the world.
The Fiat heavy vehicle division was merged into the Iveco organisation in the mid-1970s, and while never being a major player in the Australian truck market, Fiat trucks nonetheless had a presence on Australian roads for a number of years.
Over the years very few have survived the rigours of time, and to come across one which has been beautifully restored, as is the case with Greg Webb’s 1976 110NC cabover is somewhat of a rare find.
The restoration of Webb’s Fiat was only completed in August this year, with the truck making its show debut at the American Iron Historic Show in Echuca in September.
Hailing from Lakes Entrance, Webb had owned and operated two Fiats many years ago, and his 110NC was essentially a ‘barn find’ coming into his ownership via a farm clearing sale in 2019.
“It was a genuine one owner truck, and I was interested as I was the owner of a similar one back in the day and thought ‘Well, she’s too good to let the wreckers get it’,” Webb explained.
“It was a local farm truck, it only ran around the district around the farm with a crate running a few sheep into the saleyards and had only done 130,000km over its life, hence the condition it is in. I found it about 40 k’s from home. I went to the auction, got it for not a lot of money and drove it home.”
As such the Fiat had not been subjected to a lifetime of back-breaking work and was in quite sound condition, right down to the original Fiat dealer stickers on the cabin windows.
Nonetheless, there was still a bit of rust to chase out and the truck was stripped back to the rails and pieced back together on-site at the Webb workshop.
“Wayne Mitchell was the main fabricator, and he did a fantastic job, we took it down to chassis, freshened her up and put her back together.
“We had to buy another truck just for the windscreen, and that took a lot of finding and got the tray back together with some old bits and a few new ones.
“The mechanicals also got a freshen up, with the engine putting out a somewhat modest 130 horsepower, running through to a 5-speed/2-speed gearbox.
“She gets along. It will do about 104k’s in top notch. They are probably not the greatest powerplant, but they were a reliable old truck back in the day.”
Originally from Orbost in eastern Victoria, Webb owned two Fiats in the earlier days, with a 110NC on market freight and later a 130 with a tipper.
“I used my 110 running from Orbost to the Melbourne market five years, before I sold the job and the truck. It was a 5.5-hour trip each way. Some people say, ‘why a Fiat’? but they were a popular truck in the 70s.
“They were as good as anything; the Melbourne market had literally dozens of them.”
Over the last 50 years, Webb has owned a number of trucks and now runs a waste business in Lakes Entrance with his son with up to 60 trucks in the fleet at one point.
The Fiat was carried up on a trailer to Echuca with its stablemate, a Mercedes Benz 1418 which has also been beautifully restored, with both trucks standing out in their orange paintwork.
It was a maiden trip to Echuca for the Webb trucks, with Webb having previously displayed the Mercedes at shows throughout Gippsland.
With two trucks completed Greg reckoned that would be it in terms of restorations for the time being: “But you can never say never,” he said with a smile, and no doubt the Fiat, given its rarity, will be a popular drawcard at future shows.
“There wouldn’t be too many of them still about, I don’t know of many others that have been done up. It took us 3.5 years to get it like that and she’s virtually come straight out of the shed.”