By on May 28, 2019

1979 Fiat 124 Sport Spider in California wrecking yard, RH front view - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsBack 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). (Read More…)

By on November 12, 2018

Image: FCA

Some police operations are only made possible by the inclusion of vehicles with 164 horsepower, a (debatably) has-been reggae/pop singer, and the guy from Dune.

The latest marketing coup, if it can be called that, on Fiat Chrysler’s plate involves these three elements, combined with an ’80s-themed, Crockett & Tubbs-like storyline and a hysterical typo that’s still on the automaker’s media site. (Read More…)

By on March 1, 2018

Image: FCA

Fiat’s 124 Spider roadster doesn’t offer a complex “retractable fastback” like its Mazda MX-5 platform mate, but it looks like the brand isn’t satisfied offering only a soft-top version of its roadster.

There’s a new Spider crawling its way towards a Geneva Motor Show debut, and this one dons a very different hat than its siblings. (Read More…)

By on February 5, 2018

2017 Fiat 124 Spider Lusso - Image: FCA

The Downward Spiral wasn’t just a groundbreaking Nine Inch Nails album — it also aptly describes Fiat’s current sales trajectory in North America. (Sorry for the headline, Corey.)

With January 2018 figures out of the bag, the state of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ Fiat brand becomes ever clearer, though we’ve known it was in trouble for some time. Reintroduced in this market in early 2011, the four-model brand continued its downhill sales slide last month, with corporate cousin Alfa Romeo outselling it for the second consecutive month.

How bad is it?

It’s bad. (Read More…)

By on August 5, 2017

2017 Fiat 124 Spider Lusso - Image: FCAJuly 2017 was the first month in which we could ascertain the year-over-year U.S. sales direction of the one-year-old Fiat 124 Spider.

That direction is down.

In fact, the rate of year-over-year decline — 124 Spider sales fell only 6 percent in a passenger car market that was down 15 percent — was by no means severe. But it’s yet another sign that when American roadster buyers want a Mazda Miata, they buy a Mazda Miata. (Read More…)

By on June 19, 2017

1979 Fiat 124 Sport Spider in California wrecking yard, LH front view - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
For as long as I have been poking around in American automobile graveyards (35 years), the presence of the occasional Fiat 124 Sport Spider has been a constant. Even while Pininfarina-badged, Malcolm Bricklin-imported 124 Sport Spiders were still available as new cars in the United States, I was seeing 20,000-mile late-70s examples about to be crushed.

Nowadays, most of these cars show signs of decades-long outdoor storage after awaiting restorations that never came. Here’s an extremely rough and rusty one that I spotted in a San Francisco Bay Area yard a couple of months back. (Read More…)

By on September 26, 2016

2016 Ford Shelby GT350 Mustang

Even Mazda, we told you last week, is now selling more crossovers than cars.

One-third of Chevrolet’s U.S. volume is produced by pickup trucks. An SUV now generates more than half of the Bentley brand’s U.S. sales. Half of all Chrysler buyers choose a minivan.

Where are the sports cars? (Read More…)

By on August 24, 2016

2017 Fiat 124 Spider Classica

Fiat believes it can attract more buyers to the brand by offering a fixed-roof version of the 124 Spider.

According to Autocar, a coupe version of the recently released roadster is under development, and could make its appearance next year. (Read More…)

By on August 19, 2016

Fiat

If the one thing stopping you from buying an Abarth-spec Fiat model is the nagging question of whether you’ll get free track time out of the deal, consider your question answered.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles announced yesterday that anyone buying or leasing a Fiat 124 Spider Abarth or 500 Abarth model has a year to sign up for the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving, free of charge. Your tiny turbo won’t know what hit it. (Read More…)

By on August 11, 2016

2017 Fiat 124 Spider Abarth, Image: FCAThe fourth-generation ND Mazda MX-5 Miata is undoubtedly, indisputably, undeniably the best addition you could make to your garage.

Some people disagree.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles reported 480 U.S. sales of the Fiat 124 Spider in July 2016. The Spider is a thoroughly transformed version of Mazda’s fourth Miata: different body, distinct suspension tuning, unique powerplant.

With the 124 Spider’s arrival in the United States, 13 months of Mazda MX-5 Miata sales growth came to a screeching halt. (Read More…)

By on June 10, 2016

2017 Fiat 124 Spider Abarth, Image: FCA

If you weren’t in on the secret, much of this morning’s presentation at the Park Hyatt Aviara would have made no sense. A series of four FCA personnel stood up to talk about the new 124 Spider, which was behind them to stage right. On stage left was a pristine Euro-bumpered 124 Sport Spider from the late ’60. Each of them talked about “what’s changed on the car.”

“It’s five inches longer, with all-new exterior sheetmetal,” one presenter said. “It’s got an aluminum panel in the folding roof, and thicker rear glass,” another noted. “The suspension tuning is completely different,” stated yet another. I could see the confusion on the faces of some of the older auto journos from the newspapers. It’s five inches longer than the original 124? It’s got thicker rear glass? The suspension is different? Well, duh, right? For more than an hour, Fiat’s marketing, styling and engineering personnel talked about “what’s changed on the car.”

There was the word that never escaped anybody’s lips, not a single time. Even when I raised my hand to ask “how the weight compares,” I couldn’t quite bring myself to say the word. But we can say it here on TTAC: Miata. The new Fiat 124 Spider is based on the ND-generation Mazda Miata, the car that your humble author drove in Spain a year and a half ago and which has been quite justifiably hailed as the finest small roadster of this century. The 124 Spider is assembled right next to the Miata in Japan, with a “J” VIN. The primary difference: where the Miata has a 2.0-liter Skyactiv normally-aspirated four-cylinder, the 124 has the turbo 1.4-liter MultiAir four-banger from the Fiat 500 Abarth, built in Italy and shipped to Mazda’s assembly line.

Fiat would prefer that we didn’t mention the Miata. But, as we’ll see, the 124 Spider need not fear any comparisons with its store-branded sibling. Quite the contrary, in fact.

(Read More…)

By on April 29, 2016

2017 Fiat 124 Spider

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has announced pricing on the 2017 Fiat 124 Spider, touting it as America’s least expensive turbocharged convertible.

With an MSRP of $24,995 (plus $995 destination), the Spider tops the base price of its platform mate — the Mazda MX-5 Miata — by $255. Luxury (“Luzzo”) models will go for $28,490, while the performance-oriented Abarth model starts at $29,190. (Read More…)

By on March 22, 2016

2017 Fiat 124 Spider Elaborazione Abarth

After teasing Americans from a distance at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this month, a production version of a meaner Fiat 124 Spider has been unveiled by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in advance of its New York premiere.

The 2017 Fiat 124 Spider Elaborazione Abarth is a mouthful to pronounce, but the Old World name should help add some metaphysical distance between this massaged roadster and its Mazda MX-5 Miata underpinnings. (Read More…)

By on November 18, 2015

IMG_5052

Finally, a Fiat in North America that isn’t a 500.

The all-new 2017 Fiat 124 Spider is what happens when you give a spectacular chassis to the Italians and let them fit it with a torque-happy turbocharged engine.

The new roadster, which is based on the Mazda MX-5 Miata, was revealed today at the 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show. It will be powered by what we all suspected — a 1.4-liter turbocharged engine with 160 horsepower and 184 lbs-ft of torque. A pair of six-speed transmissions, one manual and the other automatic, will send that turbo power to the rear wheels.

(Read More…)

By on February 18, 2015

04 - 1980 Fiat 124 Sport Spider - Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWill the steady procession of Fiat 124 Spiders into America’s self-service wrecking yards never cease? So far in this series, we’ve seen this ’71, this ’73, this ’75, this ’76, this ’78, this ’80, this ’80, and now yet another sporty little Fiat from the Malaisiest year of them all. Here’s a beat-up but not hopeless example I spotted in Northern California. (Read More…)

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