The new Fiat 124 Spider may be thought of as a spiritual successor to the classic Fiat 2000 Spider. It’s no secret, however, that the new car is really a re-skinned Mazda MX-5 Miata powered by the same engine as the current Fiat 500 Abarth. The only parts truly new to the Fiat are some exterior panels. That’s not a bad thing as the new Miata seems to be quite amazing in all regards.
The question, despite Jack’s opinions, is whether the Abarth engine and some suspension tuning will give the 124 Spider that much coveted Italian flair, the sales numbers Fiat desperately needs, and the passion and drama that we all love so much. For better or worse, that’s been somewhat absent from the Miata over the years.
To answer that question, and to discover the ingredients in that secret Italian sauce, I recently spent some time in the classic Fiat roadster.
The Internet flooded with terrible references to “Back to the Future” on Wednesday (guilty), but the only one that really matters has no corporate tie-in, no thin threads to questionable technologies — hell, it doesn’t even have Michael J. Fox.
The best one of the day may very well be a re-enactment of some parts of the movies with Eastern European crapboxes.
The Polish remake, dubbed “Wreck to the Future” is all you need to scratch the itch you didn’t know you had. Let’s dissect.
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. (Read More…)
In all my years of snouting around in junkyards, one thing has remained constant: a sprinkling of Fiat 124 Sport Spiders. They were fairly common in junkyards in 1983, and they’re just about as common now. Where do these Fiats come from? Will the supply of forgotten project 124 Spiders ever run out? Here’s the lastest example, a fuel-injected ’80 I found in a Denver self-service yard. (Read More…)
After yesterday’s yesterday’s ’71 Fiat Junkyard Find, we should check out the slower, uglier version of the 124 Sport Spider that resulted from Fiat’s attempts to meet American safety and emission standards. Fiat did a better job than British Leyland in this department (e.g., black-bumper MGB, Malaise Spitfire), but that’s clearing an extremely low bar. (Read More…)
In my 30 years of crawling through junkyards, one thing has remained constant: there’s almost always a Fiat 124 Sport Spider to be found. Crusher-bound 124 Spiders are about exactly as common now as they were in the early 1980s, and I suspect they’ll be just as common in 2032. I usually don’t even bother to photograph them (though I have documented this ’78 and this ’75), but lately I’ve developed some affection for the sports car that made the MGB seem reliable. Here’s one— a little older than most— that I spotted in a Northern California yard earlier in the month. (Read More…)