Junkyard Find: 1979 Fiat 124 Sport Spider

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1979 fiat 124 sport spider
Back in the early 1980s, when I began my junkyard-crawling career in the East Bay, I would find examples of the Fiat 124 Sport Spider on a depressingly regular basis. I still find them today, in about the same quantities; the only difference is that now they’re 40 years old instead of six years old.Here’s the latest: a black ’79 without a speck of corrosion, spotted in my old East Oakland junkyard stomping grounds (though at a yard that didn’t exist in 1982).
124 Sport Spiders can be purchased for next to nothing in restorable condition, and such has been the case for about a half-century. This means that any broken or registration-challenged example lives perched on the edge of doom, teetering over the abyss with the front wheels pointed straight down at the nearest Ewe Pullet. These cars sit for years or decades in driveways, garages, and yards across the land. A few get fixed and returned to the street. For most, that little shove over the cliff comes… eventually.
These cars were much more fun than the engine specs might suggest. This one came with the 2.0-liter Fiat Twin Cam, rated at 86 horsepower.
I’ve always admired the clever placement of the truck lock on these cars.
My collection of FASTEN SEAT BELT lights, mostly harvested during the 1989-1992 period, includes several dozen of these units.
From the Fiat 508 Balillo Spider of Benito Mussolini’s Italy to the 124 Sport Spider of the Ayatollah’s gas lines, Fiat had been there for those wanting temperamental sports cars at a reasonable (and rapidly depreciating) price.
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2 of 18 comments
  • SoCalMikester SoCalMikester on May 28, 2019

    basically goes to show how much of a ripoff BHPH places are. there was a lot of room to drop the price before it went to the scrapyard.

  • BillSellwood BillSellwood on May 29, 2019

    The body design of the spider still gets positive reactions. An early assignment for a young Giugiaro.

  • Lou_BC "Owners of affected Wrangles" Does a missing "r" cancel an extra stud?
  • Slavuta One can put a secret breaker that will disable the starter or spark plug supply. Even disabling headlights or all lights will bring more trouble to thieves than they wish for. With no brake lights, someone will hit from behind, they will leave fingerprints inside. Or if they steal at night, they will have to drive with no lights. Any of these things definitely will bring attention.I remember people removing rotor from under distributor cup.
  • Slavuta Government Motors + Government big tech + government + Federal police = fascist surveillance state. USSR surveillance pales...
  • Johnster Another quibble, this time about the contextualization of the Thunderbird and Cougar, and their relationship to the prestigious Continental Mark. (I know. It's confusing.) The Thunderbird/Mark IV platform introduced for the 1971 model year was apparently derived from the mid-sized Torino/Montego platform (also introduced for the 1971 model year), but should probably be considered different from it.As we all know, the Cougar shared its platform with the Ford Mustang up through the 1973 model year, moving to the mid-sized Torino/Montego platform for the 1974 model year. This platform was also shared with the failed Ford Gran Torino Elite, (introduced in February of 1974, the "Gran Torino" part of the name was dropped for the 1975 and 1976 model years).The Thunderbird/Mark series duo's separation occurred with the 1977 model year when the Thunderbird was downsized to share a platform with the LTD II/Cougar. The 1977 model year saw Mercury drop the "Montego" name and adopt the "Cougar" name for all of their mid-sized cars, including plain 2-doors, 4-doors and and 4-door station wagons. Meanwhile, the Cougar PLC was sold as the "Cougar XR-7." The Cougar wagon was dropped for the 1978 model year (arguably replaced by the new Zephyr wagon) while the (plain) 2-door and 4-door models remained in production for the 1978 and 1979 model years. It was a major prestige blow for the Thunderbird. Underneath, the Thunderbird and Cougar XR-7 for 1977 were warmed-over versions of the failed Ford Elite (1974-1976), while the Mark V was a warmed-over version of the previous Mark IV.
  • Stuart de Baker This is depressing, and I don't own one of these.