Where do all these junkyard Fiat 124 Sport Spiders come from? You don’t see them on the street, you don’t see them half-covered by tarps and raccoon nests in driveways, and you don’t even see many of them at Italian car shows. And yet I’ve been seeing these cheaper-than-an-Alfa-Spider Italian sports cars at wrecking yards, at about the same rate, since I started visiting U-Pull-It in Oakland in the early 1980s. Here’s the latest example, a little green devil I spotted at U-Pull-&-Pay Denver last month.
Just in this series, we’ve seen this ’71, this ’75, this ’78, and this ’80, and we might as well add the 124’s little brother, this ’71 850 Sport Spider.
I’d like to show you photos of the Twin Cam engine that may or may not still live under the hood of this car (who knows, maybe someone with a sense of humor has swapped in a BMC B engine), but the hood release was stuck and I didn’t feel like freezing my fingers futzing with it for more than a few seconds.
The warning lights in these cars are junkyard gold— high-quality chrome and real glass lenses. I’ve used them in such projects as the Junkyard Boogaloo Boombox, the scratchbuilt instrument panel in my ’65 Impala project, and other projects. I didn’t grab these, because I’ve already got a lifetime supply in my parts stash.
What I’ve learned from all these 124 Sport Spiders that I’ve seen about to get crushed over the years is that one of these cars would make an excellent Ill-Advised Engine Swap Project. Hmmmm… it seems there’s a shop building swap bellhousings to bolt the 3-liter V6 out of an Alfa Romeo 164 to a non-transaxle, rear-wheel-drive Alfa transmission. If we listen to the Alfa Mafia, that engine makes 270 horses with mild (i.e., terrifyingly expensive) intake and exhaust modifications. Or, if you want to be boring (and not go broke), there’s always the Miata drivetrain donor.
This ad is for the ’80, but it’s pretty much the same car as today’s find, only with more smog control and uglier bumpers.