FIAT 124 SPIDER REVIEW

Perfect for some summer fun, we look at this stylish and peppy Italian drop-top

Chrome-bumper models are the most sought after, but all versions benefit from glorious Pininfarina styling

Chrome-bumper models are the most sought after, but all versions benefit from glorious Pininfarina styling

An intriguing alternative to the MGB and Alfa Spider, the Fiat was a Pininfarina design that was made for almost two decades. Proven mechanicals and pretty looks contributed to that longevity and with all cars built in left-hand drive, more than 80 per cent went to the USA. Regular updates kept things fresh, including the later fuel-injected 2.0-litre engines which added performance the smaller-engined models lacked


VITAL STATISTICS

Fiat 124 Spider 1800

Engine                                    1756cc/4-cylinder/DOHC

Power (bhp@rpm)                  116bhp@6000rpm

Torque (lb ft@rpm)                 113lb ft@4000rpm

Top speed                                116mph

0-60mph                                  9.6sec

Consumption                            28mpg

Gearbox                                    5-speed manual


WHAT TO LOOK FOR

BODYWORK & CHASSIS
 

Potentially hefty restoration costs make checking for rot a vital task. Take a close look at the doors, wings, and wheel arches as well as the inner wings, front suspension turrets, and jacking points. The floor pan behind the rear seats needs careful examination, but it’s the sills that probably need most attention – the three-piece construction adds vital strength and removing the cosmetic bolt-on outer cover is the only way to be sure of their condition. A check of the panel gaps and door shut-lines will reveal any signs of accident damage too. Watch for bodged right-hand drive conversions as well. Panels for early examples are getting rare – especially replacement bonnets – while doors aren’t always interchangeable between models. It’s not unusual to find incorrect items used as replacements.

ENGINE

The twin-cam engines are fundamentally strong with proper maintenance though it’s worth checking for blown head gaskets (‘mayonnaise’ under the oil cap is the giveaway), oil leaks and excessive exhaust smoke. Cambelts aren’t known for early failure but check the history to see when it was last changed. Carburettor models used Solex or Weber units and wear can cause lumpy running, while the Bosch fuel-injection system is generally trouble-free. A test drive will reveal any issues in this area. It’s worth checking for impact damage to the sump which sits quite close to the ground – even if the sump itself is okay, the impact can damage the oil pump within so a flickering oil light will need urgent investigation to avoid terminal engine damage.

RUNNING GEAR

Gearboxes that are allowed to run low on oil will lead to excessive wear and noise, while jumping out of gear can be a problem. Back axles are a weak point too – particularly on 2.0-litre models – so listen out for whines or clunks as re-builds can be time consuming and expensive. The suspension and all-round disc brakes aren’t really problematic, so very much a case of checking for wear and tear. 

Worn bushes and an ineffective handbrake are likely to be the extent of the problems assuming the previous owner was generally conscientious. A seized idler arm can cause stiff or vague steering though. One area worth checking is the front crossmember which can corrode and crack, so clunks from the front end or wandering on the road should ring alarm bells.


INTERIOR

Interior trim parts for early cars are getting scarce, replacing the upholstery, carpets or door cards on most models is straightforward. Watch for splits in the top of the dashboard – normally caused by sun damage, which can be tricky to repair. Broken seat backs can also be a problem. Check for water ingress and leaking heater units that can lead to corrosion and ensure the hood and frame are undamaged. Electrical issues are likely to be caused by poor earth connections or a degraded wiring loom.


OUR VERDICT

Interior trim parts for early cars are getting scarce, replacing the upholstery, carpets or door cards on most models is straightforward. Watch for splits in the top of the dashboard – normally caused by sun damage, which can be tricky to repair. Broken seat backs can also be a problem. Check for water ingress and leaking heater units that can lead to corrosion and ensure the hood and frame are undamaged. Electrical issues are likely to be caused by poor earth connections or a degraded wiring loom.

Recently Added

49341 1Sponsored Ad
2015
£159,950
  • 2,800
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Automatic
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • Refcode: TA1104318
Black & Green Alcantara, 5200 cc, 20'' Giano Rims In Black, 4 Layer Verdi Mantis Paint, Front & R...
31
01283 599 699
View details
48222 1Sponsored Ad
1925
£64,500
  • 0
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Manual
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • Refcode: TA1102130
1925 Bugatti Type 35 Tribute with all aluminium coachwork professionally and painstakingly recrea...
10
01794 899 419
View details
48910 1Sponsored Ad
1969
£POA
  • 0
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Manual
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 LHD
  • Refcode: TA1103477
1969 Alfa Romeo Giulia GTA 1300 Junior, LHD The delightful Alfa Romeo is one of just 500 or so Gi...
37
01621 879579
View details
47733 1Sponsored Ad
1963
£POA
SERIES V VANTAGE
  • 0
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Manual
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • Refcode: TA1100974
Coming soon - Aston Martin DB4 Series Five Vantage with the desirable Special Series engine. In S...
24
01621 879579
View details
48926 1Sponsored Ad
2004
£4,995
  • 52,000
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Automatic
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • Refcode: TA1103464
This low mileage S-Type has recently come to us as a part exchange from a gentleman who bought a ...
5
01798 849 279
View details
Prestige 3065aSponsored Ad
1964
£44,950
  • 74,500
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Manual
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • Refcode: TA1104423
1964 Jaguar MK II 3.4 Manual with Overdrive in Racing Green
28
0208 226 3039
View details
Mg31 (7)Sponsored Ad
1974
£3,950
  • 83,331
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Manual
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • Refcode: TA1104427
This 1974 original chrome bumper MGB GT represents excellent value for money. It looks good in it...
14
+44 (0) 113 322 9000
View details
1tSponsored Ad
1965
€32,950
cabriolet 1965 British Racing Green
  • 59,019
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Manual
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 LHD
  • Refcode: TA1104421
This car is a very early and originally in Holland delivered 1965 MGB convertible. In 2015 this c...
8
+31 416 751393
View details
Lk04ggu 1Sponsored Ad
2004
£33,995
C
  • 54,030
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Manual
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • Refcode: TA1104419
ARCHIVE PHOTOS, AWAITING PREPARATION TVR T350c 2004 (04), 54,030 Miles, Air Conditioning, Brilli...
12
01920 400225
View details
1tSponsored Ad
1966
€39,950
cabriolet 1966 V8 manual gearbox
  • 25,445
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Manual
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 LHD
  • Refcode: TA1104417
This Ford Mustang was delivered in the beautiful Wimbledon White colour and is in a very well res...
8
+31 416 751393
View details
See All Classic Cars for Sale