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A House Full Of Spiders: Fiat 124 Spider Package Deal

Whether it is deserved or not, Fiat hasn’t had the best reputation for reliability in this country. A Ford dealer that I worked for briefly in the 1970s would not take a Fiat in trade for any new or used car. But when they were new, Fiat 124 Spiders got very good reviews by the automotive press citing their slick design, great performance and easy to stow soft top.  If you’re feeling nostalgic- or brave- a five car 124 Spider package is for sale on eBay in Manchester, Connecticut for $2,500 OBO.

Do you need more out of this deal than five Fiat 124 Spiders? How about a bunch of extra parts to go along with the cars? The seller states that he has “a barn stall full of parts” but judging from the condition of the cars in the listing photos, the majority may be out of the cars he’s selling. But that’s fine, too since most of the disassembly work has already been done for you.

The seller states that he has three 1979 models, a 1980 and a 1981 available. He also says that some of them are runners and one- a 1979- is “pretty much just scrap metal.” Four of the cars are five speed manuals but the 1981 is an automatic transmission car.  He is up front about which cars have titles and which ones do not, so at best some of the package is best considered parts cars.

At the time, the 124 Spider was one of the lowest-priced Italian open sports cars on the market. Where the British competition was still using pushrod engines, Fiat gave the 124 dual overhead cams. The Fiat 124 had a five speed transmission, four wheel disc brakes and a more comfortable interior. It was also a very attractive car, with its clean Italian styling.

Looking at this package, a competent restorer could probably get two good cars out of the deal and depending on the mix of extras available, part of the project could be financed by selling off some of the extra pieces that are not needed.  Fiat 124 Spiders are great driving cars and their styling has aged well over the years. Heck, the “new” 124 Spider being built by Mazda in Japan for Fiat-Chrysler even drew some of its appearance from the original.  What you think Barn Finds reader? Can you learn to love Spiders or would this interrupt your curds and whey?

Comments

  1. Rex Kahrs Rex Kahrs Member

    Wow, $2200 for 5 cars and parts, but no takers. Maybe this guy would be better off parting these cars, and just crushing those bodies. That said, there probably isn’t much of a market for the parts either. So why doesn’t this car get any respect? Just askin’

    Like 1
  2. h5mind

    I have owned at least 20 Fiats of various models over the years, and thoroughly enjoyed all of them. The rarest was probably a Spider Turbo, but I also never saw another to match my 1981 Brava coupe (most were 4 door). Rust is the huge bugaboo because they are uni-body cars and thus more difficult to repair than something you can unbolt. Word of advice to anyone buying one– strip out the carpets and remove the felt-backed tar that is molded to the floors– it retains moisture like mad. Miata seats can be adapted to replace the OEM seats which often break internally. I never had reliability problems with any of mine, in spite of all the jokes about ‘F/I.A.T.’

    Like 3
  3. Ben T. Spanner

    I bought a brand new 1974 Fiat 124 Coupe. No mechanical problems until I tried to drive home. The volt meter dropped to zero. A wire had fallen off the fuse block. Never happened again. 2 repairs under warranty; a front wheel bearing and a clock. I installed an earlier distributor and timed to earlier specs and it ran great.
    I lived in the rust belt and the iron worm quickly ate Fiats. Once they became ratty they got little care and soon were junk. I tradd a dead VW for a running Fiat 850 which my Wife adopted as her daily driver.

    Like 1
  4. Healeymonster

    I grew up on my uncle’s foreign car lot in the 60-80s.
    The Italian cars had so much more tech than the Brits did of that era. That being said the skills needed to repair and maintain them went beyond the average shade tree mechanic used to changing waterpumps and single carb adjustments on their Ford or Chevy. Most never realized the timing belt needed servicing at intervals and a interference engine didn’t get good press when the belt broke. In my opinion Alfas with their twin cam timing chain motors were far superior but got tagged for poor reliability because of association with the Fiat. Americans liked big American cars at that time and looked down on these imports. Too bad as they were a blast to drive. I still own a 1960 fiat Cabriolet that has held up well here in California. Its going to be passed along to the kids when I’m gone.

    Like 1
  5. Marco

    These cars were great fun to drive- more torquey than my Alfa spider. But after a year or so I had the wheels off frequently to free up the dragging brakes. That was just the start of the problems at which point I learned the meaning of FIAT- “Fix it again Tony” No Fiats Spiders now but still own several Alfas with no issues.

    Like 1
  6. Dave

    My family bought into a Fiat dealership in the early 1970’s and I went to work there when I got out of the military. I had so much fun with these cars. I would purchase almost any fiat that I could find that needed repair, fix them up, drive them for awhile, and then sell them. To me, they were easy to repair, except for the wiring at times, and so much fun to drive. Had all versions of the 850, the 124’s and even new a 128 and 131. Good times!

    Like 1
  7. chad

    “Had all versions of the 850, the 124’s and even new a 128 and 131. Good times!” agreed – a lower mid-class fam that lived/appeared above it’s means – the Fiats were great on all accords until trading off into the Lancias.

    Like 0
  8. t-bone Bob

    Wow. Wish I had the space. I would love to have this collection and build one good car at a time. ‘Course getting it all the way across the country to my home in Oregon would be a chore.

    Like 0

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