Fun Stuff

Find of the Week: 1976 Fiat 124 Spider

While Fiat has just released pricing of their new 124 Spider, it's probably going to be a bit of a wait before you can get one in your driveway. It's mid spring, and demand for the new roadster will be high. And that’s just to get your place in the queue, because they aren't out yet. But if you want to get a 124 Spider today, you still have the chance. Because Fiat has used the 124 Spider name before, on a vintage roadster built from 1966 until 1985. Fiat only stopped building the car when coach builder Pininfarina retooled the factory to put together Cadillac Allantes. Those two vehicles rolling off the same line in the same year is quite a contrast in styling.

Take a look at the classic 124 and it's easy to see where Fiat got the inspiration for the nose of the new model. The original was derived from the 1963 124 sedan, which lived on well into the '90s in Lada and Vaz forms, and was being made under license by various companies into the 2000s. The spider is a much prettier shape than the sedan, though, and it has aged much more gracefully as well. The example here, for sale in Woodbridge, ON, is a nice example of a clean, low mileage 124. In forest green, with a black top over newly restored beautiful tan leather seats, it looks sharp. This car has the chrome bumpers of the early models, but is late enough to have one of the better engines. The gold cross spoke alloys suit the colour scheme well.

Under the hood is a carbureted 1.8L dual overhead cam inline four producing 116 hp. The engine is the design of Aurelio Lampredi, who also is responsible for some of the most famous Ferrari V12s of the 1950s and 1960s.  Of note, this is one of the first engines to use a rubber timing belt. While the power figure seems unimpressive at first, this car is a flyweight at just under 1,000 kg, so the power-to-weight ratio is still respectable. Coupled with the four-cylinder is a five-speed manual transmission to keep everything moving along.

Another plus of the original 124, and a rarity among small 1960s style sports cars, is that this is a four-seat car. It’s going to be crowded in the back seat, but it’s there in an emergency. Kids should fit just fine, and if there’s nobody back there it adds a nice amount of cargo space. Again this platform was originally designed as a sedan, so it’s larger inside than many of its contemporaries.

Fiat sold nearly 130,000 of these cars in North America, which means it’s not as rare as you would think, and parts availability and repair knowledge are still easy to come by. There are many aftermarket sources available, and specialists who can care for it. This 1976 example is a beautiful colour combination, and a very appealing car. You could be enjoying the wind in your hair this weekend, with our find of the week.