FIAT 124 Spider
Generations Timeline, Specs and Pictures
The most sold roadster in the world received an Italian heart and a different face that transformed it from a Mazda MX5/Miata into a Fiat 124 Abarth.
The Mazda MX5/Miata was a long time champion as the most sold roadster in the world, long time after the original Fiat 124 Abarth was a glorious name on the car arena. Fiat and Mazda joined their forces and developed a car that could have been offered as an MX5 or as a 124 Abarth. It was something more than just a badge-engineering.
From the exterior, the round headlights and wide grille resembled the original Fiat 124 Spider from 1966 styled by Pininfarina. The classic look of the car was different than the one on the Miata, which was styled by Masashi Nakayama. The low beltline and the almost vertical A-pillars gave the car a simple, clean aspect. In the back, the 124 GT Abarth featured four exhausts on the sides and a diffuser under the bumper.
Inside, the Italian cousin of the MX5 featured Recaro sport-bucket seats, but most of the interior was carried-over from the Japanese model. Both cars were built in Japan, in a Mazda factory. The instrument cluster was slightly different, with a big and red tachometer in the middle. The car didn’t feature a power-roof. It was manual, but it needed less than 5 seconds to open or close it.
Under the hood, the Fiat 124 GT Abarth featured a different engine than the Japanese version. It featured a 1.4-liter turbocharged engine and it produced more torque and more power than the MX5. Moreover, the gearbox was different, even though it was a 6-speed as well.
The spiritual successor of the oldschool 124 Sport Spider came in 2016 under the Fiat 124 Spider name.
The new model is completely based on the fourth generation Mazda MX-5/Miata. Although the two convertibles share the same chassis, the 124 Spider is 5-inches longer, heavier than the Miata, comes with its own styling and is powered by a Fiat designed and made turbocharged engine. At launch, the Fiat 124 Spider was available in a limited edition called the Spider Anniversary and later it received the Abarth treatment as well. Some people like to mock the model and call it a ‘Fiata’.
Based on the reborn Fiat 124, the Abarth 124 Spider was gifted with more performance features in order to be the best driving machine the Italian house has to offer in 2016.
First off, the looks have been altered to look fiercer through a new front grille, gaping lower intake, bigger rims, sport rear bumper with quad exhaust tips and a lip spoiler on the trunk. The interior got Alcantara trimmings, different seats and a contrast stitched steering wheel with a viewfinder. The engine makes more power, there’s and optional automatic transmission on the list and the suspension has been modified a bit for sharper response.
Fiat introduced a facelift for its small 124 Sport Spider in 1972.
The Italian carmaker upgraded both the exterior and the interior of the car and installed more powerful engines.
Fiat launched the first 124 Spider in 1966 on the same base as the 124 Sedan and the 124 Coupe. While the earlier models were designed only for relaxed, not-so-fast driving, the car was improved over time and became faster. The Sport Spider and the Sport Coupe were developed for racing, and thus, the street versions received more power and different rear axle assembly to comply with the FIA regulations. And those were useful additions for the street versions.
The 1972 changes included a small revamp of the front fascia, which kept the same two round headlights. There was a new set of turn-signal lamps on the front fenders. A mesh-grille was installed instead of the older design with horizontal slats.
Inside, the two-seater featured a few updates. The instrument panel showed the same five dials, with a bigger speedometer and tachometer. Fiat installed a radio under the center of the dashboard to entertain its occupants in a center stack. Underneath it, there was the speaker and interior light, plus the cigarette lighter.
Under the hood, Fiat offered a wide choice of engines ranged between 1.6-liter and 2.0-liter, either carbureted or fuel injected. A significant upgrade was the five-speed manual gearbox.
Fiat had a good time back in the late ’60s when it introduced the first facelift for the 124 Spider and installed a more powerful engine for the little two-seat roadster.
Roadsters were an excellent way to improve or to keep a brand’s image high. With a high reputation of a carmaker that built vehicles priced for the masses, but with an emotional design, Fiat introduced the 124 Spider in 1966 as an open-top version for the 124 Coupe. Its first three years proved some flaws in the engineering design that forced the carmaker to act quickly and fix those issues. It took almost three years for the engineers to fix that, and only in 1969, they came with a solution to reinforce the transmission system. Along with the engineering upgrades, the design team made few modifications to the original design.
The 1969 124 Spider featured a mesh-grille instead of the original design with horizontal slats at the front. The designers modified the hood’s look with the introduction of two bulges, suggesting that there was a V-engine installed. In the back, the taillights were bigger.
Inside, the carmaker installed two bucket seats at the front and a tiny bench in the rear, which decreased the tax income value. It was close to impossible to fit four people inside. The flat dash featured a glove-compartment on the passenger side and a five-dials instrument panel in front of the driver.
Fiat introduced a 1.6-liter engine under the hood from the 124 Sedan series and a new, 5-speed manual gearbox. Since it shared some mechanical components with the four-door sibling, it took the disc brakes in all corners that helped the car stops better.
Fiat tried to make its appearance in the convertible market when it introduced the 124 Spider, and the result exceeded its expectations.
The Italian carmaker tried to expand its lineup and conquer the American customers. It noticed the U.S. market appetite for open-top vehicles and attempted to make an affordable, fun to drive one. But it had to be a stunner and a real daily driver. For that, it hired Pininfarina Studios and offered them a free hand in developing the car.
It was an excellent result. Pininfarina discarded the Fiat 124 sedan shapes and used only its round headlights and the platform, but with a shorter wheelbase. Since it was aware that Fiat wouldn’t place bigger engines under the hood, it made the car lighter by building it on an integrated chassis. It was a mix between a body-on-frame and unit-body construction. To keep some ties with the sedan version, Pininfarina made the grille with horizontal slats.
The carmaker asked the designer to make a two-seat roadster, and that’s what Pininfarina provided. Its instrument panel showed five dials, with a bigger speedometer and tachometer. As an option, Fiat installed a radio in a center stack under the dashboard. Underneath it, there was the speaker and interior light, plus the cigarette lighter.
Under the hood, Fiat dropped a 1.4-liter engine carried over from the sedan version, which provided 90 hp thanks to its Weber carburetors. It paired it with a five-speed manual. It was an instant success, but the Italian carmaker understood that the roadster needed a bigger engine.