Junkyard Find: 1980 Fiat 124 Sport Spider

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

Once 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.

The 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.

I 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.

The instrument cluster from this one was gone…

…because one of my friends thought the gauges would look cool in one of his goofy race-car projects. Hey, half price!

Yes, the same Pininfarina that did this design did the Cadillac Allanté and Volvo C70.

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.

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  • Qx9650 Qx9650 on Jan 13, 2015

    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?

  • Honda_lawn_art Honda_lawn_art on Jan 19, 2015

    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.

  • Aquaticko Problem with PHEV is that, like EVs, they still require a behavioral change over ICE/HEV cars to be worth their expense and abate emissions (whichever is your goal). Studies in the past have shown that a lot of PHEV drivers don't regularly plug-in, meaning they're just less-efficient HEVs.I'm left to wonder how big a battery a regular HEV could have without needing to be a PHEV.
  • El scotto ooops, the third shot is at the gas pump voice-over saying "Yep, you can refill whenever you want."
  • El scotto The opening shot of the ad: Show a PHEV running a quarter mile, in about seven seconds and silently with the voice-over saying "What you want to do, all on electrons"; segue to bumper-to-bumper traffic and the voice-over saying "What you really do; all on electrons for your first 80 miles".
  • FreedMike OK, as mentioned before, I tried out a PHEV today - a Mazda CX-90. And you know what? It's DAMN nice. It's no rocket, but it's suitably quick. It has enough power to feel effortlessly quick. Handling is surprisingly good - I wasn't able to really go for it with a salesman in the car, and obviously it's no match for my GLI, but that big girl likes to corner. The interior is posh. Overall, the experience is somewhat like driving a less-powerful Audi A6 - it's not aggressive, but it's got that "hammer in a velvet glove" thing going on. It's a big, fast, smooth and efficient car. And Mazda is doing some serious dealing on this car right now. Color me impressed. Might I end up eating my own anti-CUV words?
  • Bd2 For here, the (near) future are HEVs, not PHEVs.PHEVs, like BEVs, have too much of a price premium over ICE - where they need govt incentives to sell.For the vast majority of drivers, a PHEV will not recoup its price premium w/o state subsidies.Hence, HEVs being the most in-demand powertrain and that will only continue as more HEVs become available.