The Fiat 124 Spider is the Affordable Way to Drive Italian

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.