Down On the Mile High Street: Fiat 124 Sport Spider

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

After seeing the sad little yellow Fiat convertible in a Denver junkyard, let’s admire a happy little yellow Fiat convertible that’s still managing to evade the cruel jaws of The Crusher.

These things didn’t change much during the first few years of production, and I’m not a sufficiently maniacal devoted Fiat aficionado to spot the subtle model-year identifiers on this car, but I’m going to guess it’s a ’70 or ’71 model. I found it parked in front of a Denver church on a Sunday, so it may be one of those much-sought-after “little old lady only drove it to church on Sunday” cars. If so, I’m impressed by the little old lady’s choice of a 40-year-old Fiat over, say, a Buick LeSabre.

This car appears to be a super-original, rust-free example; probably not worth a ton of money (if we are to go by the Hemmings Motor News Classifieds), but a lot rarer nowadays than its British competitor, the MGB. The ’71 124 Sport Spider listed at $3,382 and boasted 90 horsepower, while the ’71 MGB sold for $2,875 and had 92 horsepower. Having driven both types, I’d say both are pretty poky, but the Fiat seems faster.






Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

More by Murilee Martin

Comments
Join the conversation
3 of 28 comments
  • Ciddyguy Ciddyguy on Oct 13, 2011

    One little factoid I found on the web is that these spiders were the ONLY iteration of the 124 that had the DOHC motor, the other versions of this model soldiered on with the OHV/pushrod motors. These were first introduced in 1966 and finally ceased production in 1985, a long run indeed. This one looks to be a very nice example indeed. I have spotted several of these around Seattle this spring/summer and recently saw a nice red one being driven about a month ago. I've also spotted several of the Alpha Romeo Spiders as well, mostly from the 1980's and spotted a nice light orange 850 spider that looked to be restored zoom up the street outside work over the summer.

    • CJinSD CJinSD on Oct 13, 2011

      The Fiat 124 Coupé and the 1974 FIAT 124 TC Sport Sedan shared variats of the Lampredi DOHC engine. I once used a 1974 124TC sport sedan as a parts car to source a turn signal housing for my Sport Spider, so I know they really did exist.

  • Akirachan Akirachan on Oct 16, 2011

    Nice. I was about to purchase a 73 back in 2000, but my inner-mechanic told me he was on strike, so I didn't. But my inner-stoner wishes he did. Now both of them agree on a pre-fiat Lancia Fulvia, but the inner-wallet doesn't think it can deliver the goods!

  • Varezhka I have still yet to see a Malibu on the road that didn't have a rental sticker. So yeah, GM probably lost money on every one they sold but kept it to boost their CAFE numbers.I'm personally happy that I no longer have to dread being "upgraded" to a Maxima or a Malibu anymore. And thankfully Altima is also on its way out.
  • Tassos Under incompetent, affirmative action hire Mary Barra, GM has been shooting itself in the foot on a daily basis.Whether the Malibu cancellation has been one of these shootings is NOT obvious at all.GM should be run as a PROFITABLE BUSINESS and NOT as an outfit that satisfies everybody and his mother in law's pet preferences.IF the Malibu was UNPROFITABLE, it SHOULD be canceled.More generally, if its SEGMENT is Unprofitable, and HALF the makers cancel their midsize sedans, not only will it lead to the SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST ones, but the survivors will obviously be more profitable if the LOSERS were kept being produced and the SMALL PIE of midsize sedans would yield slim pickings for every participant.SO NO, I APPROVE of the demise of the unprofitable Malibu, and hope Nissan does the same to the Altima, Hyundai with the SOnata, Mazda with the Mazda 6, and as many others as it takes to make the REMAINING players, like the Excellent, sporty Accord and the Bulletproof Reliable, cheap to maintain CAMRY, more profitable and affordable.
  • GregLocock Car companies can only really sell cars that people who are new car buyers will pay a profitable price for. As it turns out fewer and fewer new car buyers want sedans. Large sedans can be nice to drive, certainly, but the number of new car buyers (the only ones that matter in this discussion) are prepared to sacrifice steering and handling for more obvious things like passenger and cargo space, or even some attempt at off roading. We know US new car buyers don't really care about handling because they fell for FWD in large cars.
  • Slavuta Why is everybody sweating? Like sedans? - go buy one. Better - 2. Let CRV/RAV rust on the dealer lot. I have 3 sedans on the driveway. My neighbor - 2. Neighbors on each of our other side - 8 SUVs.
  • Theflyersfan With sedans, especially, I wonder how many of those sales are to rental fleets. With the exception of the Civic and Accord, there are still rows of sedans mixed in with the RAV4s at every airport rental lot. I doubt the breakdown in sales is publicly published, so who knows... GM isn't out of the sedan business - Cadillac exists and I can't believe I'm typing this but they are actually decent - and I think they are making a huge mistake, especially if there's an extended oil price hike (cough...Iran...cough) and people want smaller and hybrids. But if one is only tied to the quarterly shareholder reports and not trends and the big picture, bad decisions like this get made.
Next