By on January 13, 2015

07 - 1980 Fiat 124 Spider Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinOnce again, we are reminded that examples of the Fiat 124 Sport Spider have been a junkyard constant for my entire 33-year junkyard-haunting career. So far in this series, we’ve seen this ’71, this ’73, this ’75, this ’76, this ’78, this ’80, and now I’ve found another 1980 Sport Spider in a snowy Denver self-service yard.
13 - 1980 Fiat 124 Spider Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe 2000cc version (actually 1995cc) of the Fiat Twin Cam engine was introduced for the 1979 model year, and it made 80 horsepower for the US-market 1980 models. The car only weighs 2,290 pounds, so 80 hp wasn’t as miserable as you might think. However, since Internet Car Experts seem to complain endlessly about how intolerably slow the Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ is with its 13.79 horsepower-per-pound ratio (it is a lot of fun, in fact), contemplate this car’s 28.625 horsepower-per-pound ratio. Was it slow? Sure was! Was it fun? Yes! Was it reliable? Next question! Say, putting the trunk lock in one of the zeros of the 2000 emblem looks pretty slick.
04 - 1980 Fiat 124 Spider Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI saw this car when I went to the New Year’s Day Half Off Everything sale at a Denver wrecking yard, and it was parked right next to another 124 Sport Spider. That Fiat, however, had a lucky Fiat owner pulling just about every single interior and trim piece off it (a very solid ’78), so I concentrated on shooting photos of the not-quite-as-nice ’80.
02 - 1980 Fiat 124 Spider Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe instrument cluster from this one was gone…
IMG_2497…because one of my friends thought the gauges would look cool in one of his goofy race-car projects. Hey, half price!
10 - 1980 Fiat 124 Spider Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinYes, the same Pininfarina that did this design did the Cadillac Allanté and Volvo C70.

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18 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1980 Fiat 124 Sport Spider...”


  • avatar
    cwallace

    Fiat must have made a trillion of these things, since every self-service yard in the country has one.

  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    Darned shame about the gray one with red leather interior next to it…that one would have been a neat one to have.

  • avatar
    CaptainObvious

    The father of a friend had one of these in red – not sure how he got it – but soon after it broke down and was parked on the side of the house. As kids we would play in it. I never saw it move again until it was towed away.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Pininfarina has also designed the Coke Freestyle machines!

  • avatar
    kovakp

    Wow, looks like a ’59 Ford behind the tres hombres.

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    These were decent little cars. They were not fast, but had good manners and plenty of brakes considering their low power and light weight. Mechanically, they were pretty sound, but the crummy Marelli electricals let them down too frequently. Like most British roadsters of the era, they were easy to work on.

    I think you’d have to have a serious case of the nostalgias to want one now, a MX-5 is a much nicer drive, assuming you fit in it. That’s one thing the Fiat had going for it, bigger people could be reasonably comfortable in it.

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    Wrote a nice comment, spam filter ate it, I give up.

  • avatar
    seth1065

    Brings back memories I had one on these in collage and for a few years after, a fun car , wow only 80 hp I must have forgotten that or ignored it, it was in ok shape , I lost third gear at one point but just skipped it, it was not a car to leave around sitting for a few weeks and then jump in a assume it would start, parts were a bitch to get pre Internet days, and I lived on Long Island where everything was only ten minutes away. But on a nice day drop the top and just drive and have fun. It was about as reliable as any of my friends cheap cars were. My Fiat is kinda like a ex girlfriend, some good, some bad, but years later I look back fondly on our time together.

    • 0 avatar
      GeneralMalaise

      yep, 80 rip-snorting horses… some folks often forget the “lack of power compared to which contemporary car?” angle. The Spider (and the X1/9) were among the cream of the affordable sports cars back in the day. The cars just required following the maintenance schedule, which wasn’t difficult, as it was detailed in the owner’s manual. I owned a ’74 X1/9 (my first new car purchase) and owned it for 6 entirely trouble-free years and put on 99K miles before reluctantly selling it to fund a more kid-friendly auto.

  • avatar
    rickentropic

    Gave mine up after R&R 2 water pumps in 6 months, and Fia Tony was not cheap…

    • 0 avatar
      lon888

      Your “Tony” was a crook mechanic. Back in the day, many mechanics knew most import water pumps were pretty weak. So, when they installed a new pump they would over-tighten the drive belt, which would weaken the bearing, thus guaranteeing them a repeat customer in a couple of months. Its an old trick.

  • avatar
    wrongwayray

    I’ve been daily driving Fiat spiders for over 7 years now. about two years ago I sold my 82 2 liter fuel injected spider, and bought a 73. The truth is if you keep up on the maintenance these are great little cars. I’ve driven the British equivalents, and the Fiat with it’s twin overhead cam engine, smooth shifting 5 speed gearbox, and all wheel disc brakes is way nicer to drive. Not to mention parts are plentiful and cheap. There are many upgrade parts available. For a cheap, fun, vintage roadster they are a great choice.

  • avatar
    qx9650

    One of your buddies is holding what looks like a Scout front grill, from around 1973. Scouts are getting hard to find these days…is he building one?

  • avatar
    honda_lawn_art

    Aurora, CO represent!
    My dad and his friend both had one in the 70’s. Dad named his the “miserable piece of $#!^”. That buddy was of Welsh descent, but ladies like him and thought he looked Italian, and they’d ask him, “hey, say something in Italian”, and he’d say, “press.-olio” Smooth cat I guess.


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