The Fiat 1100 was first introduced in 1937 as an updated version of the 508 "Balilla" (its real name was the 508C) with a look similar to the 1936 Fiat 500 "Topolino" and the larger 1500, with the typical late-30s heart-shaped front grille, with styling by the emerging designer, Giacosa. It was powered by a 1089 cc four cylinder overhead valve engine. Drive was to the rear wheels through a four speed gearbox, and for the period, its comfort, handling, and performance were prodigious, making it "the only people's car that was also a driver's car". Subsequently the car underwent a partial restyling around the front end and gained new streamlined window-shaped louvres and was re-named the 1100B and popularly known as the "1100 musone" (i. e. "big nose"). After World War II, in 1949, the car was re-introduced with a curvy trunk and new name, the 1100E. Both the 508C and the 1100B were also available as the long wheelbase 508L and mainly used for vans and taxis.
Between 1956 and 1960 the new 1100 underwent several slight changes in fittings and details, e.g. newly designed grille, more rectangular profile, dual color dressing, and eventually small fintails with spear-shaped backlights. A special version, the 1100 Granluce (i.e. "Large light"), without suicide doors, launched in 1959, had both fintails and wider windows. As an option it could be fitted with a new powerful 1221 cc engine.
Retaining the exterior changes of this model, in 1962 Fiat introduced the 3rd generation 1100, called the 1100D. "D" stood for Delight. It was a sober yet comfortable 4-door sedan, very similar to the Granluce but with simpler sides and a new simpler rectangular mouth. The 1100D was a successful Italian standard in the early sixties and along with its own estate car version survived without any substantial alteration until 1966, when the introduction of the groundbreaking 124 model imposed a further change in styling.
The very last 1100 model, born that year, was the 1100R (R = Rinnovato). It had a longer, straighter and slimmer line, with a square back and a front-end look not so different from its bigger sister the Fiat 124. At the same time, the larger engine was withdrawn in order to avoid undue overlap with the 124. The 1100R was offered only with the older 1089 cc engine. The 1100R finally gave way in 1969 to the new middle-class Fiat 128.
The Fiat 1100D was made in India from 1964 onwards. In 1973 (for that model year alone) it was named the Premier President. From 1974 onwards until it was finally discontinued in 2000, it was known as the Premier Padmini.