Market Finds: The Fiat 124 Spider is the Affordable Way to Drive Italian

The Fiat 124 Spider is the Affordable Way to Drive Italian

By Alan Franklin
May 2, 2013
11 comments

There’s no greater bargain the world of classic European roadsters than the Fiat 124 Spider. From its soulful and revvy Lampredi-designed twincam four, beautiful and timeless Pininfarina-penned bodywork, to its capable and entertaining chassis, there’s nothing else that touches it for historical significance, looks, and handling anywhere near the same price point.

Introduced in 1966 and with nearly 200,000 built over a 20-year production run, they’re not especially rare, which explains their affordability. Though never all that reliable, even when new, they’re bone-simple in design and easy to wrench on, even for relative novices. Also, parts are easy to come by and quite affordable, especially in comparison with its Alfa cousins. If you’re not prepared to get greasy, a classic car, regardless of origin, probably isn’t right for you—besides, it’s a big part of the fun of ownership.

The price of entry for Spiders, as mentioned, is highly affordable relative to competitors, with perfect, early, small-bumper cars fetching the most—about $7,000 tops. USDOT-bumpered, smog-equipped post 1975 cars can be had for as little as $500 for a serviceable fixer-upper, and solid, rust-free runners with a decent bill of health and decent cosmetics commanding only five or six times this amount. Prices have remained largely flat for the past decade, and aren’t likely to appreciate much anytime soon—if you’re in it for the money plan on any of it being made by whoever inherits the car.

Alternatives include Alfa Graduates, MG’s, and Triumphs of all sorts—all are quite a bit more costly to purchase and run, and with the exception of the other Italian car, all are technically inferior, too. Similar open-top thrills are offered by whichever you prefer, but the two British cars go about providing them in quite a different way than either the Fiat or the Alfa, offering more of a muscular, brutish driving experience in contrast to a delicate, tip-toe kind of precision from the Italians—neither is necessarily a better way of doing things, just suited to different owners.

If you’ve ever considered getting into the classic Italian car game, there’s no better way to do so with minimal risk or outlay.

If you’re inspired, click here to check out Fiat 124s offered on eBay.

Image Sources: carsdata.net, productioncars.com, car-service-manuals.comnetcarshow.com

 

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11 Comments on "The Fiat 124 Spider is the Affordable Way to Drive Italian"

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Linda N Brian Schick
Linda N Brian Schick

I had a brand spanking new 79 bright red 2000 spider, which traded in for a new 82 Alfa spider 3 years later. I really miss them both!

Calvin Jefferson
Calvin Jefferson
I am on my third 124 Sport Spider; I made a mistake trading my “63 Chevy Shortbed stepside for the “71 Spider until I drove it up and down the freeway. I felt like I was driving a Ferrari, although I really don’t know how that feels. I sold it for more than what I bought it for after I wrecked it and welded the rear end back together. My second was a 80 1800; I never could figure out why it always reved so hi all the time, that was a bust. My current one is a “72 with… Read more »
Nick
Nick
“…….Though never all that reliable, even when new, they’re bone-simple in design….”WTF? Sorry. You are WRONG! That’s right. Bone simple in design. As far as reliability is concerned, one major important fact to consider is that due to US smog regulations in the 70’s many of these cars that were destined for the US were “troublesome’. As far as Euro spec cars are concerned they were simpler and a lot more reliable than their US cousins. Problems were always due to smog pipes added to comply for America, pollution cams, restricted carbs and in some models airpumps. In essence these… Read more »
Russ Wollman
Russ Wollman

resized photos

Russ Wollman
Russ Wollman

My ’73 dark green Spider was my best friend for 14 years. Together we scoured the US east coast from upstate NY to Key West. She never failed me and was loved by everyone, even the girls who weren’t all that crazy about me. Her paint and upholstery gave way after a short time, but no matter, so I treated her to new duds. Just before I sold her, people asked me how much the payments were. I still become emotional when I see them. The 124 was transcendent.

Fiat124
Fiat124

I had two. One of my best memories was driving through the mountains with a group of vintage British cars. The other cars were about $10k or more and I had just as much fun in my $1,500 Fiat. I also found that many of the interior components were common with my friend’s Ferrari 308 GTB. True fun on a budget.

Leucea Alexandru
Leucea Alexandru

Today i ran into this forgotten Fiat showroom, on a small street just a couple of blocks away from where i live. And i remembered this topic. Inside there were 2 Fiats, a 124 Spider, a Ritmo Cabrio, both in showroom condition, brand new. I was surprised when i saw what stood next to them. A Toyota MR2 mk1 that looked like it came straight from the factory (and it was for sale) and another Toyota from the nineties, the Celica..the showroom walls were hosting some nice vintage Fiat pictures and advertisements. It made my day.

OctaneBlood
OctaneBlood

My dad had a Fiat 124 Coupe in New Orleans in the late ’70s and his lasting memory of the car, as told many times, was “It’s trunk was perfect. It held 86 pounds of marijuana.”

Rod Williams
Rod Williams

“In the day”, I had two friends with Fiat 124s. If you were reeeal quiet and leaned in close, I swear you could actually hear them rust. Both friends bought them new and both sold them after two years, full of rust and only occasionally running. Started with smiles and ended with tears. Always felt bigger and more “grown up” than other affordable sports cars of the era.

Ray Beltran
Ray Beltran
A green 124 Spider was ALMOST my first car. Wanted it so badly. I sought it out; I knew exactly what I wanted. Just couldn’t afford it. Distant second, an 850 Spider. Didn’t much care for it. Was sorta weird. Did not have the gorgeous lines or the condfidence-inspiring balance of the 124. Not to mention just plain gutless. I ended up with a… VW Rabbit, while all my friends were driving jacked-up Camaros and Mustangs. FUN car. Began my long love affair with German cars, although I did at one time own the 124’s big brother, a 131 with… Read more »
Davis Kinzell
Davis Kinzell

I kick myself everyday for not appreciating this car more when my parents had one for over 30 years. Only had 75k when they sold it in 2003. Ansa exhaust and black roll bar, but no Pansports. Oh well. Still scouring Craigslist looks for a decent orange example to fulfill my plans for the little spider.

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