David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
11/12/18 1:54 p.m.


This article is from a past issue of the magazine. Like stories like this? You’ll see every article as soon as it's published, and get access to our full digital archive, by subscribing to Classic Motorsports. Subscribe now.


Story by David Wallens • Photo Courtesy Fiat

The Fiat 124 Sport Spider is the Rodney Dangerfield of our sports car …

Read the rest of the story

ddavidv
ddavidv PowerDork
11/13/18 6:51 a.m.

Having owned several of these I recently browsed selling prices on Ebay. They are real bargains right now. Vastly superior to anything out of Old Blighty.

wspohn
wspohn Dork
11/13/18 10:15 a.m.

They were excellent cars with DOHC engines, 5 speed gearboxes and 4 wheel disc brakes.   Unfortunately they had this little issue with rusting in a heavy dew....

mikewilensky
mikewilensky
11/13/18 1:57 p.m.

I've always likes Fiats; my favorite model, however, is the 850 Sport Spider. There are almost no more of these cars left it seems, as I haven't seen one on the road for a long, long time. They were really pretty cars, I thought.

stu67tiger
stu67tiger Reader
11/14/18 6:47 a.m.

I had a '70, right after college.  Same color as the picture.  In '72 the rocker panels rusted through (I'm in New England).  The body shop guy got a look inside the rockers and told me to sell it ASAP.  No wonder there aren't many left, though I did see one at a show this fall.

Stu

Jerry From LA
Jerry From LA SuperDork
11/14/18 6:59 p.m.
wspohn said:

They were excellent cars with DOHC engines, 5 speed gearboxes and 4 wheel disc brakes.   Unfortunately they had this little issue with rusting in a heavy dew....

Why wait for the dew?  Some started in the showroom.  My last Spider (a '73) came with paperwork pertaining to a $1,500 "rust rebate" that was part of a settlement from a case brought by the government.  The settlement happened a few years after the car was bought but the PO pocketed a nice check.

Mr.
Mr. New Reader
1/7/19 9:43 p.m.

The original Fiat 124s were great looking, fun to drive sports cars.  I used to drive my best friend's orange one all of the time.  This is as opposed to the new 124, a terrible looking Mazda Miata.  The original was designed by Tom Tjaarda, the famed Ghia designer who also penned the De Tomaso Pantera.

rcvs1
rcvs1
11/18/21 12:48 p.m.

I enjoyed the company of a 1970 124 spider for just over 300,000 miles. It was remarkably quiet on the freeway. I recall reading, in a motoring magazine, that the 124 Spider was quite a bit quieter at 60 mph that the same year of 1970 BMW 2002 with its windows rolled up!  In addition to the accessories mentioned by others there were 2 lights in the engine compartment. Loved it so much that I bought a new'79 later on. The roofs went down with one hand while seated in the drivers seat.! 

rcvs1
rcvs1 New Reader
11/18/21 12:50 p.m.

I neglected to mention that it sported a Weber Carbuerator.

Coupefan
Coupefan Reader
1/6/24 12:04 p.m.

Usual information covered when reporting on the Fiat 124 Spider, so I'd thought I'd discuss something else mentioned in the story.  The ownership of Ferrari and how it fits into the 'organization'.  I view Ferrari's spin off as a mere accounting exercise.  Those who 'hold the cards' hasn't changed much, if at all, since 1969. That would be John Elkann, heir to the Fiat-Agnelli fortune.  The family held, and continues to hold, a majority stake in both companies (a little less overall in Ferrari now).  Mr. Elkann also sits on both boards as the CEO, allowing the family full control of all enterprises under the umbrella.  I'm not espousing corporatism in any fashion, but everything has been pretty static since Fiat's founding in 1899.  

lorenzolee
lorenzolee New Reader
1/6/24 12:08 p.m.

I bought a 124 in 1978 as it was an untitiled, dealer used 1976 model.  I have owned this car now going on 46 years and it has been one of the most satisfying classics ever.  I luckily have kept the car out of rain and snow for its whole life and it shows.  It does have some minor bleamishes from 46 years of motoring but its patina is wonderful.  I would highly recommend the 124 Spyder for collectorship.  Its way better than similar models of its day as I have owned MGBs and Porsche 914s.  If you are considering one and want more power, upgrade the stock carburator to a Weber DF series or the Weber 38-38 unit (cant remember the letters) and you will have the perfect setup.  Bigger wheels and tires help also.  They are highly reliable if you simply look under the hood once a week and check all junctions for cooling, electrical, and fuel.  Also, make sure the timing belt is changed every 20-25K miles. 

Handling is great and a rear sway bar improves plowing.  All in all, a great sports car that has all the elements of a milestone classic.  Twin cams, 5-speed, independent suspension, Pinanfarina styling, italian look and feel.  Go buy one now!

 

 

 

 

lorenzolee
lorenzolee New Reader
1/6/24 1:37 p.m.

In reply to Coupefan :

Not sure what your point is?  

gsarahs
gsarahs New Reader
1/6/24 5:09 p.m.

Many years ago in the early 1980s, my brother in law wanted to purchase a 124, so we went looking for one. We test drove an early one that looked a little tired, and as we returned to the seller's facility, I did an emergency stop to check out the brakes. Yes, we stopped, but the main result was that the whole engine came loose and was totally out of balance. I gingerly returned and told them that the only thing that Fiat was good for was a wrecking yard. They agreed.

My brother in law then went on to purchase a couple of X-1/9s, before moving onto more reliable vehicles.

I went on to purchase an Austin-Healey 3000 that I still have, along with a S1 E-Type Coupe. I have had a couple of Miata NBs that I never had issues with, other than an injury that made getting in and out more difficult. My daily driver is now a hardtop convertible Volvo C70, the best daily driver I have ever had.

gearhead51
gearhead51 New Reader
5/14/24 11:49 a.m.

It looks like everyone had better luck with theirs than I did. Fun to drive, for sure. My bright yellow coupe version displayed wonderful design but I found it executed in soft metals. A pool of oil formed between those lovely twin cams during one road trip. The handsome quilted hood insulation caught fire one morning on startup. My brakes seized when I spent a little too much time dropping off a date one night, with my foot on the brake pedal in her driveway, and within a mile I pulled over to find the rear discs brightly aglow, just before the overheated fluid blew the line. Finally, the service department of a dealer in Boston inserted a flat washer atop the cam follower during one tuneup and told me I needed a valve job. What a year. Fun to drive, though.

You'll need to log in to post.

Our Preferred Partners
RWKN3bib3AnbPmsQgvB09JHUVVIQ9q46uhloy0d2ToWlX82kxIFjhMYzMFD0MP65