By on March 4, 2015

1980-fiat-124-spider-in-better-days

Sergio Marchionne had a surprise for Geneva Show attendees: a confirmation that FIAT’s version of the stellar new MX-5 will have an old-school name.

Talking to Auto Express, Marchionne revealed the name “124 Spider” on an apparent whim. Not that this comes as a surprise to the Internet, which has been vaguely aware of plans to name the car thus for a while now. Answers to the main questions — what will the car look like, and what kind of powerplants will it have? — are still up in the air, but the production location is set as Hiroshima, Japan.

Given that the car will share a production location with the MX-5, it would be unwise to expect too many Italian (or Mexican) engines under the hood. There is likely to be an Abarth version. There will not be an Alfa Romeo variant, however; Marchionne suggested that Alfas need to be built in Italy, not Japan (or Mexico).

Images of the car on the Web are photo illustrations by people who haven’t seen so much as a prototype, so take them with the proverbial grain of salt.

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72 Comments on “The FIAT MX-5 Will Be Called 124 Spider...”


  • avatar
    JMII

    Fiat dealers must be jumping for joy… finally something other then a 500 to sell.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    This will be the most reliable Fiat ever! We’re getting close to the thing where they let the Italians do the visuals, and everything else is left to the Japanese.

    I WANT a new Guigiaro designed Lexus, right now!

    • 0 avatar
      Richard Chen

      I think this was the only one: http://www.italdesign.it/en/projects/lexus-gs-300-toyota-aristo/

    • 0 avatar
      Waftable Torque aka Daniel Ho

      I owned a Guigiaro designed Hyundai Pony, does that count?

    • 0 avatar
      mkirk

      Sort of like the original Miata concept…a very British sports car with reliable electrics and a non disentigrating body.

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      “This will be the most reliable Fiat ever!”

      I still see tons of Fiat Spiders every summer. A buddy used to have one: great little car, easy to work on, cheap parts, nothing much to go wrong. I could also drive it with size 11 shoes on, unlike the Alfa spider that he replaced it with.

      Is there a specific Fiat that you’ve had issues with? There’s a half-million mile Brava on bringatrailer today and, as I’ve mentioned before, the new 500 is nearly bullet proof, other than the damn Microsoft bluetooth.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        I’ve never owned a Fiat (and wouldn’t), but I’ve seen plenty. And the X1/9.

        The 500 has not been around long enough to be proclaimed bullet proof ;).

      • 0 avatar
        mkirk

        “Is there a specific Fiat that you’ve had issues with?”

        An Uno, a Punto, a Multipla…and one of those little BIS models…it was a 2 cylinder…thats all I remember. Issues were numerous but they were generally fairly easy to fix and you usually got good at repairs because you tended to fix the same stuff over and over.

        And my Autobianch A112 had a Fiat 900cc motor which only needed 2 rebuilds.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        The new 500 is nearly bulletproof? It’s the least dependable car on the market according to JD Power, with more problems than the thrice as complex Land Rover line. Even if bluetooth elicited a complaint from every single survey respondent, that would still leave the 500 with a greater number of other problems than any car company on the list with even a tenuous association with quality. If you’re happy with yours or one guy drove slowly for half a million miles while running straight 30 weight oil, then that’s what’s known as anecdotal. My own FIAT 124 Sport Spider had the lower control arm mount tear out of the front cross member with less than 100K miles and my uncle’s Abarth had the clutch fail after a year, leading to the dealer cutting a structural part of the unit-body to replace it, followed by the dealer having to buy back the disassembled carcass of his almost-new toy. Anecdotes: We’ve all got them. What no Fiat proponent has to point to is a US index of quality that reflects well on the brand.

        • 0 avatar
          heavy handle

          Your only modern complaint is a dealer mistake: you don’t need to “cut” any parts to change the clutch.

          I got my info from a senior Jeep/Ram tech who has access to hard data: hundreds sold at his dealership, plus meeting techs from other dealers during training. He tells me his dealership has never had to take an engine or transmission apart, other than during training. That experience holds true for other dealerships techs he’s met. You may be surprised to find out that this record is unusual, even in Japanese shops.

          You would think all these unreliable cars would be fixed at dealers, they’re still under warranty. Apparently all they do is regular maintenance, and some squeaks and rattles.

          I’ve heard all the old wives’ tales and “expert opinions” about Fiat, but they don’t seem to be coming true so far.

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          A clutch failing after a year isn’t a dealer complaint. He hasn’t had any automatic cars in the time that I’ve known him, so it isn’t like it was user error. His ancient Toyota truck, VW R32 and Mini Cooper S didn’t eat clutches. He liked the Abarth a lot until the clutch went, although he seems even happier now with his VW GTI Autobahn.

          • 0 avatar
            heavy handle

            BTW, I’m sorry if I sound a bit harsh, it’s just that two very good friends run prominent independent shops, and through them I’ve met dozens and dozens of techs socially over the past couple decades. The stories they tell from the front lines are very different from what you read on the internet, and I trust their word over hearsay.

            For instance, I remember telling people for years that Subaru 2.5’s ate head gaskets, and every expert on the internet would tell me different. Until they all changed tack at once and caught-up to reality.

            Right now, the Fiat thing is similar. The people who work on them love them, but the internets will tell you they are junk! 9 times out of 10, they will repeat some tale from 1975.

            Contrary to popular belief, problem cars usually manifest themselves within a few months of release. You don’t hear about it because it’s fixed under warranty. People only complain when they have to pay out.

            That’s why I asked about your Fiat experiences. It could be that a different environment (“SD” is San Diego?) has exposed some issues that won’t spread to colder climates for a few years. That’s been known to happen.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            FWIW, my uncle lives in Rhode Island. I live in San Diego.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          You will forgive me if I consider the JDPower argument rather ‘stacked’. I’ve owned a Fiat 500 for several months now and can’t claim to experience ANY of the issues you say they’re reporting–not even the Bluetooth issues. It Just Works. And is a blast to drive.

        • 0 avatar
          GeneralMalaise

          Here he goes again with the BS about the 500. No recalls due to any mechical failures that I’m aware of. If they’re out there, please share the link. Real car guys don’t consult JD Power.

      • 0 avatar
        GeneralMalaise

        Here, here! We’ve not lived until we’ve had the pleasure of owning any number of American cars that fall apart or suffer major mechanical maladies after 100k miles.

        • 0 avatar
          mkirk

          Soooo you are upset that people stereotype FIAT’s as junk because they were junk in the last time they were sold here yet hold to the stereotype that domestics fall apart after 100k.

          • 0 avatar
            GeneralMalaise

            My opinions about American cars are informed by my experience from late 70s thru about 2005 with GM, Ford and – to a lesser extent- Chrysler.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Nice. I hope it will have a bit more style than the MX-5 (read: chrome trim).

  • avatar
    mjz

    The best of both worlds. Italian style, Japanese build quality. I think they are going to have a hit on their hands with this one.

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    There was also a coupe version of the 124. I suppose it would be too much to expect a coupe version of the new car.

    • 0 avatar
      chuckrs

      A 124 Sport Coupe with a twin cam I4, 5 speed MT and disk brakes at all corners? The 68 124 A Coupe I had was a lot of fun, but appalling build quality. 93HP, 2100lbs weight, the above features, but the most unreliable car I’ve owned.

      • 0 avatar
        CliffG

        Had a ’71, still think it was one of the most attractive small coupes ever made. Compared to my friend’s English sports cars (MG’s, Healey’s, etc.) it actually had heating (although theirs did have the warm oil drip on your trousers as a form of heat) and modern controls – not to mention that the Fiat didn’t look like it was manufactured in a 1930’s factory, goodness the castings were crude on those things. But at about 75,000 miles it had to go before Armageddon ensued. Alas all the several other Fiats I owned (yeah…) were similar in that respect. I do think the handling of the coupe was superior to the convertible, the extra cc’s of the later years were cancelled out by late 70’s smog control systems. Anyway, good luck for Fiat.

  • avatar
    Speed3

    This is what I’m talking about right here. It would have made a great Alfa as well, but I think it will fit well within the Fiat Brand and improve its product portfolio.

  • avatar

    A Fiat version of the MX5 makes sense in a lot of ways! An Italian version of the Miata with an Abarth engine would be compelling depending on the price point. Plus it also increases traffic for Fiat and it lowers the cost of development for Mazda. I also think a Fiat/Alfa version of the Mazda 3 would be attractive as well.

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    Having Mazda function as the contract manufacturer is a great thing for both Mazda and Fiat. I look forward to seeing the renderings of the 124 Spider, but if I were a gambling man, I’d bet that the badge engineering on this will be as distinct as the Consonant Twins from Toyota & Subaru.

    If you suffer from arachniphobia, get the Miata.

    • 0 avatar
      bosozoku

      I’m guessing the distinction will be more DSM than Toyobaru. There’s always a chance that FIAT will work some styling magic with their version, but it would be a lot cheaper to leave the styling mostly indentical and allow the FIAT to push sales in the southern Europe, Brazil, etc, while Mazda dominate elsewhere.

      This, along with the contract to build mini Toyotas bodes well for Mazda. I hope this means they stay in the US market and continue to grow.

  • avatar
    robc123

    So how much HP on this one? 200?

    Maybe it gets the alfa Carbon Fiber treatment….

    200hp carbon fiber mx-5 ohhhh.

  • avatar
    Chocolatedeath

    Are they calling it the 124 because they are expecting to sell 1 every 24 days?

  • avatar
    izzy

    I don’t see the point. Why would anyone buy a Miata disguised as a Fiat?

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      If it looks different enough. If there is a more powerful engine option. If the struggling Fiat dealer is willing to cut a better deal. I’d love to survey some FRS/BRZ owners to find out why they bought one and not the other. Maybe just dealer location?

      • 0 avatar
        bosozoku

        It’s interesting to hear the arguments between BRZ and FRS fanboys. They’re all but identical cars, but the Subaru guys are certain that paying more for a lower-production version makes their’s superior. The FIAT/Mazda split will probably be similar.

    • 0 avatar
      James2

      Not everyone will know it’s a Miata disguised as a Fiat.

      • 0 avatar
        izzy

        Ok, a more powerful engine would be a good reason. I guess my point is that, after 20 some odd years, the Miata, er MX-5, owns the small roadster category by now. That is, a potential buyer will look to an MX-5 first. But may be I am wrong and James is right.
        Regardless, I am just glad that there is a new MX-5. And it sounds like a much improved car.

        • 0 avatar
          bunkie

          Which brings us to the other question which is: Does Mazda think that supplying a roadster to Fiat will increase overall roadster sales enough to make up for the inevitable cannibalization of an already small market?

          • 0 avatar
            Rod Panhard

            I’m not sure it matters to Mazda either way. If they tool up to build 4,000 units in a factory every year, does it really matter whose badge goes on it?

            This seems to work for Nissan. They slap a Chevy badge on the NV200 and send that out to Chevy dealers.

  • avatar
    energetik9

    Wouldn’t it be fun if Fiat introduced a more powerful engine that what comes in the Miata :)

    Before any Miata fans pounce, I get it, a Miata is NOT about HP.

    • 0 avatar
      WheelMcCoy

      “Wouldn’t it be fun if Fiat introduced a more powerful engine that what comes in the Miata :)”

      Hmmm… could be. The new Fiat does not have to adhere to what makes a Miata a Miata. It could be larger to accommodate bigger people. It could have a larger engine for more HP. It could be heavier without drawing a lot of criticism. And it could have scads of do-dads and luxury items without hurting the Miata brand.

  • avatar
    robc123

    the HP thing is really about light weight- but its really not.

    those old datsuns had 155hp from the 60’s. The Z4 has over 300hp.

    Someone needs to get a factory engine at 200hp for north american roads.

    Sure MGBs had low power- hell they even had suspension from the 1930s too but are they going to tout that as a selling attribute as well?

    I always thought it was an excuse to make a subpar engine. now that the mx-5 looks like it can really rip- it should have the HP to match. it used to be, that when you looked like something you weren’t you were called a poser.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    It seems ironic that they’d bring back the 124 model designation for a new car when they dropped it during the production run of the 124 Sport Spider, which spent its later years being sold as the Spider 2000 and then the Pininfarina Azzurra.

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      Technically the last few years of production weren’t Fiat at all. Pininfarina bought the rights and kept building them under their own brand (they had previously built them on Fiat’s behalf).

    • 0 avatar
      GeneralMalaise

      Too many 124 Spiders left under pine trees in SD. What car(s) do you drive CJinSD? Your uncle bought a VW GTI? Wish him good luck with that, lol.

  • avatar
    IowaCircle80

    Hopefully the dash, er, touchscreen, includes the proper 124 Spider “BRAKE” and “SLOW DOWN” lights:

    http://www.californiaclassix.com/images3/c515-console-remote.jpg

  • avatar
    danio3834

    I’ll take mine with a turbo MultiAir motor, thanks.

    • 0 avatar
      GeneralMalaise

      No complaints from me on my 2012 Abarth. And I also drive an ’81 Fiat X1/9 that has 200k miles and still runs and feels like a great handling, tossable sports car should. Don’t see many ’81 cars of ANY other make on the road… I figure it’s because they never really inspired their owners all that much from Day One.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        I like that engine in the 500 Abarth. I can only imagine I’d like it even more in a RWD sports car of similar weight.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        You wouldn’t be an ex-IBM engineer I used to know, would you? He loved his old X1/9 and drove it to work nearly every day it wasn’t snowing.

        • 0 avatar
          GeneralMalaise

          No, Vulpine, that’s not me. An engineer but I’ve never worked for IBM. Speaking of the X1/9 and engineers, I’ve noticed on the enthusiast forums that there seems to be a preponderance of engineers who own and appreciate them. A pretty ingenious design in a small package.

  • avatar
    frozenman

    With an Abrath engine, colorful interior, and some nice round 500 headlights, we have a winner!

  • avatar
    stevelovescars

    I was thinking the same thing… the Abarth 1.4 Turbo with a similar exhaust note would be amazing in an open sports car. Well, perhaps just a bit quieter, I’m getting old, and a 6-speed in place of the Abarth’s 5 with a taller top gear for better freeway economy wouldn’t hurt.

    If it also mimicked the old 124 Spider and had some vestigal rear seats, it would also be just different enough to attract incremental shoppers, I think.

  • avatar
    mkirk

    As it is being built at Hiroshima I would be surprised if it got a powertrain other than the standard Mazda fare. I am expecting unique front and rear fascias and rims. I don’t see a lot of retooling going on at the plant to make them radically different. As to the Abarth version if it gets a unique powertrain expect it to also power a Mazdaspeed Miata, which will probably get me back to a Mazda showroom.

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    I can’t for the life of me see the play on building a Fiat Miata. Nobody in their right mind is going to get a rebadged Fiat when they can just go get the original.

    Terrible brand image, not a real Fiat by any stretch, and it isn’t like the Mazda is expensive.

    Would never ever buy the Fiat version of the Miata. Never.

  • avatar
    WildcatMatt

    Fix It Again, Tetsuo?

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