BF AUCTION: 28k Mile 1982 Fiat 124 Spider Turbo!

Sold For: $6,350

UPDATE – After reading some of the comments, Doug went out and pulled the spark plugs. After cleaning them, the car started right up, had good power, and ran great until it fouled the plugs again. He went ahead and recorded some video of the engine running and of the car driving, which you can view below!

I always enjoy helping our readers find new homes for their classic cars, but every once in a while something shows up in our inbox that gets me wanting to skip the listing and buy myself! This find is one of those and for several reasons. I’m a huge fan of the Fiat 124 Spider, so I’m definitely biased, but this one is something really special. Not only is it a low mileage car but a rare Turbo model! It comes with lots of documentation and several boxes filled with some very important parts. If you’d love to give this special Fiat a new home, be sure to bid below and you can find it in Silverton, Oregon.

By 1980, the 124 Spider had been on the market for 14 years. During that time, it had received a number of updates. Engines grew from 1.4 eventually all the way up to 2.0 liters, although horsepower ratings didn’t see much movement. And of course, the bumpers saw considerable growth as well. While there were buyers that still loved the looks of the Spider, the car’s performance was falling behind its competitors. In an attempt to improve performance and build some renewed enthusiasm, Fiat commissioned Legend Industries to equip just 700 cars with turbochargers for the American market. Between rust and reliability issues, very few of these cars remain today.

The seller has paperwork from the dealer that sold it new, Roy Baldwin Motor Co. of Santa Cruz, California, and the Owner’s Supplement Manual from Legend Industries, verifying that this is one of the few Turbos built. Unfortunately, the car was parked by its original owner sometime in the mid-’80s because of a mechanical issue. Even more tragically, that owner passed away shortly after parking it in their mother’s carport in Arizona. The current owner happened to live next door to their mother and in 2003 purchased the car from her. To get it rolling, new Pirelli tires were installed at the time. Soon after that, they moved to Silverton, Oregon, and had the car trailered to its current home.

Being a mechanical/structural designer, the seller was determined to get it running. As he dug into it, he discovered that the turbocharger was in need of a rebuild. He decided the quickest way to get it back on the road was to remove the turbo and install non-turbo fuel injection components. The task only required a few parts, so he found what it needed. While putting it together he went ahead and replaced all hoses, seals, the brake master cylinder, gas tank, fuel pump, had the radiator boiled, and had the fuel injectors cleaned and calibrated. With all that work done, it started right up and runs, but he quickly discovered that one of the cylinders had low compression. It still runs today but smokes and doesn’t have much power. He has put just 5 miles on it, and those new Pirellis, since then and it has remained parked in their garage since. It’s taking up space so he’s decided it’s time to move it along to a new home where it can actually be enjoyed. Don’t worry, all of the original and valuable turbo components have been retained and are all cleaned up and safely stored in several boxes.

Getting the turbo reinstalled shouldn’t actually be that difficult. The turbo’s various components can be seen in the photos and everything appears to be in decent condition. I’m sure it’s going to need all new seals, bearings and to be rebalanced, but there are plenty of specialty shops out there that deal in rebuilding turbos. These shops typically charge anywhere from a few hundred up to a thousand dollars for a rebuild, but it will highly depend on the shop and what needs to be done. You also have the option of finding a used but good replacement turbo, I believe it’s a Garrett unit so finding a replacement that will mount up shouldn’t be a challenge. Since much of this car’s value is in the turbo system, I would try to rebuild it first.

Getting the engine healthy enough to drive will require some work, as it sounds like it will need piston rings. The seller provided us with the compression numbers. Starting with cylinder one, here are the numbers: 145, 125, 142, and 143 psi (cylinder two came up to 150 after adding oil). While that’s a significant variance on cylinder two, a set of rings should even the numbers out. Thankfully, you can still get rings for the engine and with so few miles, it shouldn’t need a full rebuild.

The seller notes that the car does have a few other issues, but nothing major. There are some small rust spots on the front valance where it appears the car might have made contact with a parking block at some point, which bent the valance and also put a dent in the oil pan. At this point, it appears to just be surface rust and could easily be remedied after straightening the metal out. With the add on chin spoiler, you should be able to make the repairs with minimal paintwork! Although, you might want to delete the spoiler and the big bumpers to better reveal this car’s beautiful Pininfarina body. As for the oil pan, it’s not uncommon for these to have dents, but the seller recommends that it be replaced while you have the engine out. I would go one step further and encourage the next owner also install an oil pan guard while they are at.

They also note that there is a dent in one of the trailing arms, which they believe was put there by someone attempting to jack the car up. Upon closer inspection of the photos, I believe it’s actually the Panhard rod that is damaged, as seen above. These are readily available and quite cheap to replace, although I’m not sure it actually needs to be replaced as these were bent in this spot from the factory. If you do decide to replace it, you might also want to replace all the old suspension bushings while you have it apart.

Having restored a 124 Spider, the mechanical issues aren’t of huge concern to me. The real concern with these cars is rust and the condition of the interior. Both can be fixed, but neither are cheap or simple to tackle. Thankfully, this car doesn’t appear to have any real problems on either of those fronts! The interior is absolutely immaculate and shows nicely throughout. A red interior wouldn’t typically be my first choice in a Spider, but with the silver metallic paint, this combo looks great.

A closer look at the dash reveals the original turbo boost gauge and a set of clean Viglia gauges. The wood inserts look to be in great shape, as does the dashboard. Being a convertible that was often exposed to lots of direct sunlight, the dashes are prone to serious cracking and warping around the defroster vents. This one looks to be free of either issue! It really is one of the cleanest examples I’ve seen in a long time.

Long time reader Doug M is neighbors with the seller and is helping them with the listing. Doug cleaned the car, took all of the photos, and even drove it. He let us know that the car will need to be trailered home as it doesn’t have much power. He also looked the car over very closely for signs of rust and couldn’t find anything beyond what is seen up front. Looking over all 174 photos, huge thanks to Doug for that, I couldn’t find any rust in the typical areas. While all the sheet metal is available to fix these now, some areas are incredibly challenging to fix. The shock towers all look to be very solid, I don’t see any paint bubbles in the fender arches, and the rocker panels lack the holes typically found on northern cars.

If I wasn’t currently finishing the restoration of a 124 right now, I would have already purchased this car and it would be on its way to my house! Even if this wasn’t a turbo, I would still want it. You simply don’t find low mileage rust free survivors like this anymore. Add in that it’s a genuine turbo car and it is about as close to the Holy Grail of Fiat 124 Spiders as you can get! I just hope that it goes to a good home where it will be properly enjoyed. And I especially hope they will let me take a ride in it once they get that turbo reinstalled!

Special thanks to Doug for helping the seller list this Spider with us! If you have any questions about the car, please leave them in the comments or email us at mail@barnfinds.com and either us or Doug will make sure to get you the answer. You can view all 174 photos of this Fiat here on Drive. And if you or someone you know would love to have this rare Fiat, be sure to bid or to spread the word! We really do want to see this one end up with a Barn Finds Reader!

After watching this, I’m fairly confident that the issue is with the timing or fuel system.

  • Location: Silverton, Oregon
  • Mileage: 28,884
  • Title: Clean
  • Transmission: Manual

Bid On This Vehicle

Sold for: $6,350
Register To Bid
Ended: Jun 10, 2020 10:20am
High Bidder: ndr614
Buyer Premium: 5%
  •   
    ndr614 bid $6,350.00Jun 10, 2020 4:14pm
  •   
    ndr614 bid $6,050.00Jun 10, 2020 4:09pm
  •   
    pgohier bid $5,950.00Jun 10, 2020 4:05pm
  •   
    ndr614 bid $5,850.00Jun 10, 2020 4:02pm
  •   
    Peteb bid $5,450.00Jun 10, 2020 4:01pm
  •   
    pgohier bid $5,350.00Jun 10, 2020 3:55pm
  •   
    Peteb bid $5,250.00Jun 10, 2020 3:48pm
  •   
    Doyhensley bid $5,150.00Jun 10, 2020 3:47pm
  •   
    pgohier bid $5,050.00Jun 10, 2020 3:32pm
  •   
    ndr614 bid $4,950.00Jun 10, 2020 2:56pm
  •   
    ndr614 bid $4,800.00Jun 10, 2020 2:47pm
  •   
    pgohier bid $4,500.00Jun 10, 2020 2:20pm
  •   
    ndr614 bid $4,250.00Jun 10, 2020 1:42am
  •   
    ndr614 bid $3,950.00Jun 10, 2020 12:42am
  •   
    pgohier bid $3,750.00Jun 10, 2020 12:08am
  •   
    ndr614 bid $3,500.00Jun 9, 2020 9:40pm
  •   
    Barry1 bid $3,250.00Jun 9, 2020 4:44pm
  •   
    pfennig@jp-automobile.de bid $3,010.00Jun 9, 2020 3:34pm
  •   
    Barry1 bid $2,750.00Jun 8, 2020 11:46pm
  •   
    JDTexan bid $2,450.00Jun 8, 2020 6:35pm
  •   
    AUTOEXPRESS2020 bid $2,300.00Jun 7, 2020 9:55pm
  •   
    Allan56 bid $2,050.00Jun 7, 2020 2:53pm
  •   
    pgohier bid $1,450.00Jun 6, 2020 5:23pm
  •   
    shane0319 bid $1,350.00Jun 5, 2020 10:22pm
  •   
    carman5252 bid $1,250.00Jun 4, 2020 6:12pm
  •   
    samzuiderveld bid $1,000.00Jun 4, 2020 10:54am
  •   
    Djordan bid $600.00Jun 3, 2020 7:22pm
  •   
    shane0319 bid $500.00Jun 3, 2020 5:07pm

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Comments

  1. Keruth

    Actually in good looking shape, although I’d like some on the lift photos of the bottom. Complete to the fender liners (unobtanium), and needing a rear window is comforting.
    If I didn’t have two already, I’d be very interested in this.
    Oh’ just FYI, the ‘85.5 Azzura is THE most coveted, this being a close second, imho of course!

    7
  2. Jack M.

    It’s great that Doug M. covered all the bases with his photos. Many times Barnfind listings are seriously lacking in detail. I wish the buyer good luck with his sale.

    4
  3. JudoJohn

    Nice car! But, why would you un-install a turbo?

    4
  4. giorgitd

    Those compression numbers don’t add up to an undrivable vehicle. Something else is causing the loss of power. A de-turboed 124 ought to have the power of a non-turbo from the factory, which implies ‘plenty’. The one low compression cylinder is not that low and this ought to be a very drivable vehicle…

    11
  5. H5mind

    I used to own a number of Fiats years ago, including one of these turbo models. If not mistaken, the turbo cars had lower compression pistons from the factory. So just removing the turbo would leave a seriously underpowered car.

    12
  6. KEVIN L HARPER

    The turbo was installed by Legends industries in California. The cars were chosen at random with no type of sequences. There are no internal engine changes, but they did modify the advance on the distributor. The turbo is an IHI unit. It is rather small and really did not give a huge bump in performance, and when they gave problems many were simply removed.
    Given the compression #s this one should run ok. Make sure the timing is up to snuff.
    This looks like a pretty decent car with only a little work required to bring it up to snuff.
    Oh and as far as most desirable 124’s
    1st would be a 72 124 abarth stradale. Perhaps eclipsed by a works rally car.
    2nd 85 spider volumex ( only 500 sold in Europe only.
    3rd 85.5 azzura spider
    4th maybe this one but I would still prefer a good early small bumper flat hood car.

    4
  7. Philip

    Hello, I will offer $1000 for the box if Turbo parts.

  8. DonC

    I owned a 1982 Fiat 2000 Pininfarina, not referred to as a 124. I bought it in 1985 and sold it 30 years later. I went through a thorough restoration – body and interior. Got $9000 for it. The rear-ends tend to blow as they were from Spain originally instead of Milan. Also consider the head gasket as a source of low compression. This car is worth a helluva lot more than the current bid of $1000. I hope the reserve is around $9,000-10,000.

    3
  9. Mountainwoodie

    I had a 1980 124 Spider convertible….with a red interior and white exterior….and had zero problems. While the interior dash bits were sort of cheap I thought the cornering and handling were excellent. In fact the car was a blast.

    Obviously something is very wrong here, being the master of the obvious that I am. Rings could be the problem but I wonder why the seller spent all that time on removing the Turbo bits when, assuming the compression was low ab initio, that wasnt dealt with first? A compression check would have shown that.

    Be that as it may, its going to need a tear down….grrrrrrrr.

    I’d be so damn frustrated after all the seller did that I might let it sit too, so theres that

    1
  10. 914Shifter Member

    Hi, 914shifter is my “member” handle, but I am “Doug M.” who is helping Bob sell this nice Turbo Fiat. Here are some responses to questions and comments so far:
    @KERUTH: Local shop is Covid backed up and would not let me on a lift for about a week!
    @JUDOJOHN: The Turbo “un-install” was only meant to be temporary to get the car on the road a bit.
    @GIORGITD & KEVIN HARPER: Thanks for your comments on the motor and compression. What you said makes sense, and it did drive well from Bob’s house to my shop, so I will go out and tinker with it some more and see if I can find what’s holding it back. I play a lot with old cars, but don’t know much about Fiats… I mostly play with older cars, too.
    @MOUNTAINWOODIE: By his own admission, Bob is somewhat of a novice at auto mechanics. However, he is really great at designing buildings! He had actually not done a compression test before I got involved, so was not aware of the compression problem. Removing the turbo items and getting it running was actually a pretty technical undertaking for a guy that is not used to slinging wrenches! But yes, what a frustration!

    Thanks again for your logic on the compression readings. I’ll get back on this later.

    5
    • Philip

      Hello Doug, I would offer $1000 for the box of Turbo parts. I have a 1981 Turbo that will need them at some point !

    • Mountainwoodie

      Doug

      Didnt mean to throw shade on the owner. :) Vehicular frustration is the worst! Inevitably you end up reaching for your wallet,

      First a leak down test to see if the rings are bad, then a pressure test for the head gasket….and a look at the distributor and timing. I cant help but wonder if the Turbo did some damage

      In any event I hope you can get it squared away in order to sell it.

  11. Harriston Richardson

    If it WASNT for the fact i have MS and cannot drive STICK SHIFTS ANYMORE ,I WOULD SNATCH THIS ONE IN A HEARBEAT ,,,,YES ,,,I ,,,,, WOULD ,,,and be WILLING to put what EVER it took to get it as CLOSE to BRAND NEW as POSSIBLE , THAT IS A GOING TO MYRTLE BEACH ,AND TAKING THE SCENIC ROUTE CRUISER RIGHT DEAH BUBBA.

  12. Harriston Richardson

    A 1000.00 dollars,no reserve yet? Some one is getting a bargain, and can put the money into it , and get it back if they CHOOSE.

    1
    • DonC

      No…..the reserve has NOT been met. There is no way the owner is letting this car go that low.

  13. Patrick Anderson

    Fix It Again…no, I don’t wanna be that guy.

  14. JBD

    We had a new ‘74 FIAT that was well maintained and was always fun to drive.
    Turbos are hard on bottom ends. I’ve driven a 500 Pop turbo and it was also a fun car to drive. These cars IMO don’t deserve the reputation.

  15. JBD

    I also had a ‘’72 Fiat Sport Spider that was rear engines and a blast to drive. It is sad that I rarely see these cars anymore.

  16. chrlsful

    I owned 3 or 4 of these and never saw a turbo.
    I don;t believe U can just swap back’n forth on a motor like he’s tryin. Don’t turbos have lower compression? (less it only 5 or 8 lbs boost).

    Like to find out more on this specific 1 and it’s siblings…

  17. araknid78

    nice car

  18. Mountainwoodie

    After watching the video it seems like there might be more than one problem.

    . I’m wondering if the rings AND the valves in one cylinder might be amiss. While its short a couple of cylinders, my E46 wagon acted very much like that and it had a burnt exhaust valve. If the timing is set according to specs, and it still runs like that my guess is that cylinders’ exhaust valve.

    Of course a leak down and a lighted magnified scope into the cylinder head might reveal the problem. In any event it has to be done. You dont want any metal shards breaking off in the cylinder head

    • Josh Mortensen Josh Mortensen Staff

      The turbos had a different fuel map and distributor curve. I’m guessing it’s fouling the plugs because the ECU is the original turbo unit. A non-turbo ECU and distributor would likely fix the issue, or simply installing a carb. In my opinion, the best solution would be to get the turbo rebuilt and return it to the original configuration.

      3
      • DonC

        Josh is absolutely correct! I owned a 1982 2000 Pinanfarina and when I replaced the distributor, I was asked the exact same question to ensure the ECU matched properly. Thanks Josh for jogging my memory on that one.

        1
  19. Sam Zimmerman

    Cool, cool car. Had a buddy who bought one of these with the insurance money after he crashed his 128 sedan, I believe. I remember a cold, snowy drive with the top down in January in Northern Indiana. Can the owner assist in getting it shipped?

    • 914Shifter Member

      @Sam Z (I am listing this for the owner): Yes, I have shipped other cars before, and am happy to assist in US or foreign shipping.

  20. Jason N Hill

    Low or No compression in one cylinder?
    Thanks

  21. KEVIN L HARPER

    Sounds like it needs a good Italian tune up. Fill it with good gas and take it out and drive the piss out of it.

    Since it has been sitting the injectors frequently stick and give lousy spray patterns. The Italian tuneup does help this and stuck rings.

    2
  22. CCFisher

    “Fowled the plugs”? Did they turn into chickens?

    3
  23. Jeff

    AHhh! The English Lit experts have arrived !!

    1
  24. Howard A Member

    Oh, I can’t resist. SU’s are so much simpler. I know, I’m not helping, it is a sharp car. There is some method to my madness. You want to futz with this setup for the sake of the setup, good luck. In this day and age, for me, the turbo ( and all it’s hardware) doesn’t justify having it, and a plain old carburetor, even a Weber, and motoring top down into the sunset, would be good enough for me. Wind it out in neutral until it cleared out. Those Olds motors were tough,,,
    Got a chuckle out of Kevin’s “Italian tuneup”. My old man did that with his ’65 Olds when it ran poorly.

    1
    • John H

      We never called ’em Italian tuneups but I’m very familiar with it. Had to do that periodically to my mother’s car. She drove a few miles to the school where she taught and a few home, never above 25-30 mph. Once a week she’d drive a half mile to the grocery store. Once a month or so I’d get a call that her car wasn’t running well. Easy fix, mom!

      1
  25. 914Shifter Member

    This is Doug M. (I am listing this Fiat for the owner): Thanks goes to the great Barn Finds crowd for sharing their collective knowledge and experience! As Josh stated above (I think he hit the nail right on the head!) this Spider is suffering from a difference in some specific turbo parts trying to function without the Turbo in place! I had some nice local BF readers stop by last night and inspect it, and mentioned that the Turbo injectors dispense more fuel than the stock injectors, yet the extra Turbo supplied air is not being delivered to match… Result: black sooty plugs and poor performance. It wants to be a Turbo again!

    Anyway, as the auction enters its last day, again, thanks Josh and other readers above for helping to sort all this out, and helping it to find a new home where it can return to its former 130hp. cruising glory! Cheers!

    2
    • Mountainwoodie

      Yup, Josh seems to have nailed the possibility……makes sense too.. Too much fuel not enough air….

      1
      • DonC

        Timing too – the Turbos had a different timing that non-Turbo. And if that’s off – the plugs will be fouled or burned – either way.

        1
    • Tony S Morrison

      Hey, Doug M. I had a 1980 for 10 years and totally enjoyed it – very reliable. I still have a OEM hardtop which is rough and a complete head/fi system and a complete front. bumper. All for sale. Tony S Morrison on FB. Thanks!

  26. DonC

    Current bid is only $3000. I pray the owner has a reserve of at least $10,000. The perf/cylinder/turbo issue is not that big a deal considering the rest of the car is mint.

    When I compare this to the $9000 I got for my ’82 2000 PinanFarina – this car should pull well above $10K

    1
    • JudoJohn

      Except for the engine problems. At the least, it needs the turbo re-installed (probably overhauled, first), and maybe an engine rebuild.

  27. Maestro1 Member

    The car is very nice and needs a mechanic, not a technician, who can sort out the problem whatever it is. I had an older one of these for a year in Los Angeles, the top was never up, a non turbo, no problems except when using the directional signals the windshield wipers would operate, and when the weather was chilly the heater was like the British Colonel blowing gently on the console. Loved the car. When I get more space I will buy another one.
    But not a turbo. I am suspicious of turbo cars as used vehicles.

  28. matt

    I’m in the timing and fuel mixture frame of mind similar to Josh and Don C.
    Another possibility is check compression and cylinder leak down to eliminate those as variables- which may be piston ring blow-by or valve seat issues.
    Also are the spark plugs the proper heat range, and gap correctly set? Are the plugs oil fouled after running – which might indicate oil blow-by from the pistons.

    2
  29. Stilbo

    Bolt in reliability plus go fast…

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/124184948059

    1
  30. DonC

    Hey! I’m loving ALL these comments about a Fiat Spyder!
    Way to go Barn Finds! Usually I’m reading all the Fix It Tony crappola.
    Some of us learned to work on these, love these, drive the livin daylights out of them (my Pirelli’s were good for maybe 8000 miles)…..
    Thanks folks – this site is full of good people who know a good car when they see one (and a POS when they see that too!)

    1
  31. 914Shifter Member

    Hey, (I am listing this Fiat for the owner), thanks for all your comments and bids. This auction is getting very close to breaking out of the reserve, so serious bidders only… Oh, Also, I noticed that the 10:00 AM bid end time is MOUNTAIN TIME, and not Pacific time (where I am). Just a heads up! Happy Bidding!

    1
    • ndr614

      Hi I won the auction would like to pay how do I get a hold of you and the seller?

  32. 914Shifter Member

    The RESERVE IS MET…. it was at $5100, so last bidder wins this! Congratulations!!

  33. 914Shifter Member

    Great Auction!! Lots of great comments, too! Cheers…. Great work Barn Finds, Josh and Jesse,

    1
  34. Mountainwoodie

    Wow!

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