Automotive

Fiat 124 Spider: A little car brings a lot of history to 2017

Fiat's new car, the Fiat 124 Sport Spider, is a re-interpretation of an old favorite
Fiat's new car, the Fiat 124 Sport Spider, is a re-interpretation of an old favorite
View 22 Images
Hints of the 1960's 124 are found in the front fascia, hood work, and the badge on the deck lid
1/22
Hints of the 1960's 124 are found in the front fascia, hood work, and the badge on the deck lid
Fiat's new car, the Fiat 124 Sport Spider, is a re-interpretation of an old favorite
2/22
Fiat's new car, the Fiat 124 Sport Spider, is a re-interpretation of an old favorite
Unlike the Miata upon which it’s largely based, though, the Fiat 124 Spider foregoes the simplicity of form and austere interior of the MX-5
3/22
Unlike the Miata upon which it’s largely based, though, the Fiat 124 Spider foregoes the simplicity of form and austere interior of the MX-5
The hood is longer and more saloon-like and lines rush down either side of the car for accentuated speed
4/22
The hood is longer and more saloon-like and lines rush down either side of the car for accentuated speed
Big, round, three-light portals sit at the corners of this little roadster
5/22
Big, round, three-light portals sit at the corners of this little roadster
The most telling features are the Fiat bug eyes at the front
6/22
The most telling features are the Fiat bug eyes at the front
Hints of the 1960's 124 are found in the front fascia, hood work, and the badge on the deck lid
7/22
Hints of the 1960's 124 are found in the front fascia, hood work, and the badge on the deck lid
On the Los Angeles Auto Show floor, where the car debuted on Wednesday, the Fiat 124 Spider was definitely one of the most polarizing of the unveils
8/22
On the Los Angeles Auto Show floor, where the car debuted on Wednesday, the Fiat 124 Spider was definitely one of the most polarizing of the unveils
Inside the Fiat 124 Spider is an array of technology
9/22
Inside the Fiat 124 Spider is an array of technology
Two trim levels will be offered, starting with the Classica and going to the higher-end Lusso
10/22
Two trim levels will be offered, starting with the Classica and going to the higher-end Lusso
An optional Bose premium sound system kicks it in the pants
11/22
An optional Bose premium sound system kicks it in the pants
About 175,000 of the Fiat 124 Sport Spider had been sold here when production ended in 1985
12/22
About 175,000 of the Fiat 124 Sport Spider had been sold here when production ended in 1985
The rear haunch carries dual muscular lines to make for a more racey look
13/22
The rear haunch carries dual muscular lines to make for a more racey look
A ducktail spoiler and jutting tailpipes adorn the rear end
14/22
A ducktail spoiler and jutting tailpipes adorn the rear end
Back in the day, the Fiat 124 was the Miata of the time
15/22
Back in the day, the Fiat 124 was the Miata of the time
In November of 1966, the Fiat 124 Sport Spider debuted at the Turin Auto Show
16/22
In November of 1966, the Fiat 124 Sport Spider debuted at the Turin Auto Show
The car came to the U.S. in 1968, which became the largest market for the little convertible
17/22
The car came to the U.S. in 1968, which became the largest market for the little convertible
To kick off sales, the first 124 of the 2017 Fiat 124 Spider will be sold as exclusive limited-edition Prima Edizione Lusso
18/22
To kick off sales, the first 124 of the 2017 Fiat 124 Spider will be sold as exclusive limited-edition Prima Edizione Lusso
Fiat promises more details on the car as its launch date approaches
19/22
Fiat promises more details on the car as its launch date approaches
The Fiat 124 Spider will enter showrooms in the summer of 2016 as a 2017 model
20/22
The Fiat 124 Spider will enter showrooms in the summer of 2016 as a 2017 model
The Fiat 124 Spider is powered by the same 1.4-liter MultiAir Turbo four-cylinder found in the 500 series
21/22
The Fiat 124 Spider is powered by the same 1.4-liter MultiAir Turbo four-cylinder found in the 500 series
The classic Fiat 124 Sport Spider in an advertisement from the early 1970s
22/22
The classic Fiat 124 Sport Spider in an advertisement from the early 1970s

Fiat is working on building its brand in North America. It started with the iconic little 500, then expanded on that with the 500L and the 500X. Now it's finally ready to look beyond its smallest car and offer something else. At the Los Angeles Auto Show, Fiat unveiled a new rendition of an old favorite, the Fiat 124 Spider. Based on the MX-5 and to be built at Mazda's Hiroshima facility, the Fiat 124 is a small, beautiful modern roadster.

In November of 1966, the Fiat 124 Sport Spider debuted at the Turin Auto Show with a body designed by the famous Pininfarina. The car was an immediate success, powered originally by a 1,438cc engine called the 124 AC 040, which put out 89 hp (66 kW). The car came to the U.S. in 1968, which became the largest market for the little convertible, with around 175,000 of the Fiat 124 Sport Spider having sold there when production ended in 1985.

Back in the day, the Fiat 124 was the Miata of the time
Back in the day, the Fiat 124 was the Miata of the time

Back in the day, the Fiat 124 was the Miata of the time, selling primarily to top-down sport driving enthusiasts who wanted a back-to-basics sports car with few frills and a lot of fun. Exactly the market that the Mazda Miata has been exploiting for the last 25 years. So it's fitting that the latest-generation Miata, the MX-5, underpins this new Fiat 124 Spider.

Unlike the Miata upon which it's largely based, though, the Fiat 124 Spider foregoes the simplicity of form and austere interior of the MX-5 and aims for a more upscale, dynamic, and singularly Italian appeal.

The hood is longer and more saloon-like, and lines rush down either side of the car for accentuated speed. The rear haunch carries dual muscular lines to make for a more racey look, while a ducktail spoiler and jutting tailpipes adorn the rear end. The most telling features, though, are the Fiat bug eyes at the front. Big, round, three-light portals sit at the corners of this little roadster.

Inside the Fiat 124 Spider is an array of technology
Inside the Fiat 124 Spider is an array of technology

Hints of the 1960's 124 are found in the front fascia, hood work, and the badge on the deck lid. The overall shape is only marginally throwback, being much more modern in its appeal.

On the Los Angeles Auto Show floor, where the car debuted this week, the Fiat 124 Spider was definitely one of the most polarizing of the unveils. It's a love it or hate it design, finding no gray area in people's reactions.

The Fiat 124 Spider will enter showrooms in mid 2016 as a 2017 model, powered by the same 1.4-liter MultiAir Turbo four-cylinder found in the 500 series, but this will be the first time that engine has been used in a rear-wheel drive vehicle. A six-speed manual transmission will be standard, with a six-speed automatic available as an option. The engine outputs 160 hp (119 kW) and 184 lb-ft (249 Nm) of torque. For those comparing, that's about 15 more horses and 12 more lb-ft over the MX-5, but this car is a bit larger and heavier, so it likely pans out in the end.

The Fiat 124 Spider will enter showrooms in the summer of 2016 as a 2017 model
The Fiat 124 Spider will enter showrooms in the summer of 2016 as a 2017 model

Inside, the Fiat 124 Spider sports a 7-inch touchscreen with the latest FIAT Connect 7.0 system, with the option of a Bose premium sound system. Safety features available include adaptive front headlights, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross path detection, and a rear backup camera.

Two trim levels will be offered, starting with the Classica and going to the higher-end Lusso. Six exterior paint colors slathered in Italian names meaning "red," "white," "black," etc. are also offered.

The hood is longer and more saloon-like and lines rush down either side of the car for accentuated speed
The hood is longer and more saloon-like and lines rush down either side of the car for accentuated speed

To kick off sales, the first 124 of the 2017 Fiat 124 Spider will be sold as an exclusive limited-edition Prima Edizione Lusso with an exclusive Azzurro Ital.. er.. blue paint.

Fiat promises more details on the car as its launch date approaches.

Source: Fiat

8 comments
Fairly Reasoner
You know, I WANT to like it. It's just that the body kit makers are going to hack this within 2 months, and then it really is just another boy racer Miata in the parking lot at C_stc_.
Bruce H. Anderson
I want to like it too, because I loved the 124 (it's simian-like arm reach requirement notwithstanding). An ever-so-mild refreshing of the original body would have been wonderful, but this is not recognizable as a Fiat. As an example, when looking at the new Dodge Challenger you knew exactly what it was, even though side by side with the original there are significant differences. But the character was there in spades. Without the badges, no one would think this is a 124. To me it is disappointment on wheels.
Jeff Goldstein
I have always liked the Fiat sports cars and have driven all three (850 Spyder, x1/9 and the 124 Spyder) in the distant past. Interestingly I have never liked the Miata. In trying to duplicate the feel of the old MG's I think that Mazda has never made it handle or be as powerful as I would have liked. I hope Fiat doesn't fall into that trap with their new 124. It sounds like in will need a bunch more hp. Currently there aren't many choices in sports cars that are slightly larger but a lot more powerful. I would really love to see a modern state of the art sports car like a revamped Honda S2000, Toyota MR2 and even better a Supra Convertible. Unless that happens the best choices now seem to be a used Porsche Boxter or a BMW Z3
Stephen N Russell
OK body style, looks more like Mazda vs Fiat, not Italian looking enough Maybe have Pinifarina do body style next time. & for any planned Fiat 4 doors too. Too tame.
Island Architect
Bong!! Arron, Tom Tjaarda designed the 124 Spyder. Raised in Birmingham Michigan, and a Graduate of the Architecture and Design School at the University of Michigan, he has designed many wonderful Italian automobiles. Ford decided that they wanted the Italian look so they hired him only to discover that he was a home town boy. Mazda was very perceptive to bring back the British Sports car. And it has played out very well. And Interesting to see that FCA decided to save development costs by hooking up with Mazda and then sticking a more powerful engine in it. Ralph Gilles must have been in charge of the conversion. Few have as much historic understanding as Ralph. It will be interesting to see if it sells better than the Miata. Both are very nice so at the Upcoming NAIAS we should be able to compare them almost side by side. Bill
jasc
What a childish and bigoted assessment of Italian colour names and Italy. Chicken farmer sounds about right. Azzurro is the official colour for Italian national sporting teams. BTW don't forget that Fiat owns your precious Chrysler car company. The whole article needs to be read through the above filters. I may not have lived in the country of my birth for 63 years but I am proud of my heritage and people like you remind me of the true history and achievements of this country.
BZD
It should be the most reliable FIAT ever. The engine is well tried and all the rest is Mazda and since Mazda is also building the FIAT chances are it will be as another MX-5 and they have also been at the top reliable car lists. Question is of course can the 124 really be called a FIAT? After all there are lots of cars through time where who builds the car has the name regardless of where the engine comes from, but not many where it is the other way around.
SteveRocco
Why don't they just call it a "Fiata"?
Thanks for reading our articles. Please consider subscribing to New Atlas Plus.
By doing so you will be supporting independent journalism, plus you will get the benefits of a faster, ad-free experience.