Junkyard Find: 1978 Fiat 124 Sport Spider
Are there any 124 Spiders still driving on American streets, or is every single one sitting in a back yard or driveway, waiting for steel prices to rise high enough to trigger the final tow-truck ride to The Crusher?
I keep finding these cars in high-turnover wrecking yards, and simple extrapolation of the number of junkyards in the country indicates that the remains of hundreds of 124 Spiders must ship out on Guangzhou-bound container ships every month.
True, the Fiat Spider was a miserably underpowered and maddeningly unreliable car (though not much worse than its British Leyland competition), but is the much more beloved Alfa Spider really that much better? Wait, better not to answer that question.
Even racing stripes and metalflake blue paint couldn’t save this little Italian from its cruel fate. How many 124 Spiders remain?
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- Dukeisduke This would be a nice car. I've long been a fan of the W123 series cars - and one of my favorite colors for these. This would be the injected (D-Jetronic?) 2.8l inline six.Was the cloth always purple like this, or is it age that turns it purple?
- NotMyCircusNotMyMonkeys nobodys mentioned free HD radio?
- ChristianWimmer I am a huge W123 fan but I never liked the square headlights on the 280/280E/280C/280CE models and later on the post-1983 entry-level models. The W123s always looked right with the circular headlights.This is a great car, though. But 230C/CE & 280C/CE are so common here - I want a US-spec 300CD Diesel or 300CD Turbodiesel because that would be an exotic here in Germany.
- NotMyCircusNotMyMonkeys not a single word on whether this grey market would even pass smog or be driveable in the state.
- MaintenanceCosts Gorgeous, even if the W124 coupe is even better. Too bad about that paint color, though.
With Chrysler and Fiat becoming industrial partners, the new Pentastar V-6 from the Dodge Challenger would be an appropriate choice for this roadster in an engine swap project.
I just picked up a 78 spider a couple months ago in Michigan.I should start by saying I love this car, even with the maintenance issues. It had been covered in a barn for 25 years after having been driven 80,000 miles as regular runner for it's first 8 years of life. The prior owner spent 2 years tinkering- replaced brake lines, timing belt,and did a lot of cosmetic stuff- gold paint looks pretty good and almost no rust anywhere. I stupidly assumed he fixed all the basic stuff that needed fixing, because the car looked great and he had a fistful of receipts. What he did was try to make it run safely, which is fine. It's a 36 year old car that will require some attention. What I've found is this is a well made vehicle that is a heck of a lot of fun to drive, but it's best to be informed about and involved in it's maintenance needs. My first issue was a throttle cable that slipped off once in a while. This happened in the first week and after tightening it for a couple months, I finally discovered that the clip to hold it on was completely missing. I've slowly discovered several original items that just are not with the car now. Mostly little trim items, almost all of which are easily fixed with affordable parts readily available online. Then it overheated in traffic. worked that issue out with new radiator (US$180)and a new switch. Very easy to replace with minimal tools. Then the original top ripped- bought a new upgraded top and took my time installing it over a week. then the carb started doing bad things. worked on it for a bit until I found a brand new upgrade direct from weber web site. After studying on this installation on fiatspider.com, I was able to install the new carb. oh, did I mention an exhaust leak in the downpipe? found an upgraded exhaust manifold and downpipe (didn't know what a downpipe was a month ago)that were salvaged in ohio for $50 total. Added a performance exhaust system behind it- had to pay an expert to get that stuff in. headlights are dim, wipers slow so spent a few weeks educating myself on the wiring solutions for this car, including something called the "brown wire fix" and a headlight relay harness system. then a starter issue- got a new upgraded one, half the weight,more power generated, less power used- US$200 There is more, but that's the big stuff. I should mention that I drove the car 5000 miles this Fall taking it on several round trips to Chicago, a 7 hour excursion. If this were any other car, I'd be done with it now. But for me the thing about this car outside of it's style and pizzaz is that it reconnects you with the experience of driving. I've found it kind of empowering to have an understanding of what the heck is going on under the hood and elsewhere. One of my goals for Spring is to have her ready for a trip to the east coast and to buzz around Manhattan for a bit, especially around central park, without worrying about overheating or unplanned stops. Oh and as for those brakes, the 4 wheel power disc ones that were ahead of their time. They work great. I always know I can stop as quickly as anything around me and I'm probably more nimble as well. Awesome car that just needs a little love.