The Fiat 124 Sport Spider was an attractive front-engine, rear drive 2+2 convertible sports car, manufactured by FIAT between 1966-1982 and by Pininfarina between 1983-1985.
The Fiat 124 Sport Spider was designed initially by Pininfarina’s Tom Tjaarda, and debuted at the Turin Auto Show in November 1966. The 124 Sport Spider replaced the 1500S Cabriolet which had proved a somewhat reluctant seller with its rather staid design. If the company’s sales expectations had been dampened by this predecessor, the 124 Sport Spider would soon buck the trend, as with hindsight, the model proved extremely popular. In the model’s almost 20-year production life, just shy of 180,000 units were produced, all being left-hand drive, and with the bulk being sold to the American market.
The Fiat 124 Sport Spider featured a monocoque structure, and under the bonnet was a double-overhead cam, four-cylinder engine with an aluminium crossflow head. At the car’s launch in 1966 it was powered by a 1438cc engine which was increased to 1608cc in 1970, and to 1756cc in 1974 and then finally up to 1995cc in 1979.
In 1971 the Abarth company was taken over by Fiat, and in the same year, the 124 Spider was prepared and developed for the Group 4 class in the FIA World Rally Championship. To this end, Abarth designer Ing. Mario Colucci was brought into the picture to prepare the Fiat 124 Sport Spider for rally action.
The Fiat Abarth 124 Rally was introduced in November 1972 for purposes of homologating the car in the special grand touring cars racing class. The 124 Rally was fitted with a 1756cc in-line 4-cylinder engine which featured a 2x twin-choke Weber 44 IDF setup, boosting power to 128bhp at 6200rpm. In an effort to reduce weight, the bonnet, boot lid and the fixed hard top were fabricated in fibreglass and painted matt black. The rear window was replaced with a Perspex one and aluminium doors were fitted along with a single matt black wing mirror. The front and rear bumpers were removed and replaced with rubber overriders.
With Fiat having successfully reinvented its iconic 500, it was perhaps just a matter of time before another of the company’s popular classic names would resurface, namely the 124 Spider. In 2016, following a joint venture project between Fiat and Mazda, the new 124 Spider would make use of the new Mazda MX-5 platform. The reintroduction of the Fiat cabriolet was made at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November 2015, with customers receiving their cars in late 2016. It is powered by a turbocharged 1.4-litre MultiAir engine from the Alfa Romeo range producing 160bhp, and is mated to a 6-speed manual transmission.
You might also be interested in reading my article on the pocket rockets of yesteryear or you might want to read about one Dutch man’s tour of some of Europe’s most interesting motor museums.
However, I will be driving the new Fiat 124 Spider today, so more about the new car next week…
Written by: Glen Smale
Images by: Fiat (supplied by Virtual Motorpix)
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