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.
Yes, from the Volaré to the Troféo, Detroit marketers of the 1970s and 1980s knew that an accent in the car’s name meant “no need to buy one-a-them fancy imports with no pushrods in the engine, we got your class right here!” to American car shoppers. Unfortunately for General Motors, the Cadillac Allanté cost much more to make than those other accented cars, what with flying the bodies (on customized Boeing 747s) between the Pininfarina shop in Italy and the Hamtramck assembly plant in Michigan, and the Mercedes-Benz S-Class-grade price tag on the Allanté scared off most buyers.
That makes this car one of those Holy Grail Junkyard Finds, so it’s a stop-the-presses moment when I find one. Here’s a snazzy gold ’90 I spotted over the winter in a Denver yard. (Read More…)
The Italian coachbuilding industry took a massive hit during the latest global recession. Storied marques such as Bertone disappeared into the ether under the crushing pressures of debt and a shifting automotive industry that had become more self-sufficient.
Now, some eight years after the beginning of the recession, the Italian coachbuilding industry is making a fantastic comeback — albeit, at a cost.
For many years, I wandered junkyards in search of one of the rare Detroito-Italian cars of the late 1980s — the Cadillac Allanté and the Chrysler’s TC by Maserati. Finally, just this year, it happened: I found this 1989 Allanté in Southern California, then this TC by Maserati in Northern California, and now we’ve got this 1988 Allanté here in Denver. (Read More…)
Mahindra’s attempt to buy Italian design firm Pininfarina collapsed over the weekend due to opposition by the latter’s creditors.
Pininfarina designs many things: Ferraris, scissors, Coke machines. Now, Mahindra & Mahindra wants the Italian house’s talents.
It was 1986. One of the cruise ship’s ports of call was Puerto Rico. At a local gift shop, a 9-year-old boy received his first “nice” car model, a 1:18th scale Ferrari Testarossa. He’d spend far too much time in his stateroom, with no lights but the small bedside reading light, turning the model while admiring how the light danced over the curves and edges of Ferrari’s most influential car: a World Car in every way. The vehicle that refined the Super Car. It defined a decade, and warped the minds of several generations of car enthusiasts. And it took this boy to a Motown design school, and eventually to a little car blog called TTAC.
Sergio Pininfarina once called the Testarossa “an exaggeration in flamboyance.” A fitting quote for what must be the most famous vehicle to leave his design studio. And while he might be right, compared to today’s flamboyant Fezzas, the Testarossa was veiled in understatement and modernist modesty.
So let’s dig deep into the Mehta Brothers garage, and check out Dr. Mehta’s 1989 Testarossa: a car we’ve wanted for decades. (Read More…)
Sergio Pininfarina died overnight in his Turin home at the age of 85. The company that bears its name designed almost every Ferrari since the 1950s and delivered the shapes of cars from the 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Rondine to the 1996 Peugeot 406 Coupe. Sajeev will have a tribute to the man later on.
When we reported last month that a strange assortment of Indian and Chinese truck builders is after the Italian design house and coach builder Pininfarina, we asked what you probably thought: “What do all these truck makers want to do with a company that designed Ferraris?” Now there’s a Chinese company that can put a hot design house to better use: Beijing’s BAIC. (Read More…)
Giorgetto Giugiaro sold out to the tedeschi at Volkswagen. Bertone is teaching budding Chinese car designers in brutally cold Changchun. And now, the last vestige of inspired Italian car design is on the auction block: Pininfarina . Actually, they had hired the Italian investment bank Banca Leonardo in August 2009, but they took their time. Now, the bidding is getting serious. And guess who wants to take Pininfarina home. (Read More…)