Dad’s Forgotten Car: 1973 Fiat 124 Sport

While I understand that some family members don’t want to deal with their parents’ old cars when the time comes to create some garage space, there are some vehicles that just seem too special to kick out of safe harbor. This 1973 Fiat 124 Sport is a rarely seen 1970s sports coupe that appears to be in incredible survivor condition with some rare period-correct tweaks that indicates someone loved this car for many years. The seller clearly has no interest in bringing this rare machine back to life, so let’s hope its next owner will keep it in its preserved state with the accessory wheels and driving lamps intact. Find it here on craigslist with an asking price of $13,000.

We often talk about the 124 in drop-top form when it comes to barn find Italians, but the hardtop coupe shows up far less frequently. The Fiat may not have been overly powerful but it was still sporting. Gorgeous lines and a driver-focused cockpit, this is a later car that lost some of the beauty of the Series 1 models but was still a looker compared to other models in the same category. Unlike later Fiats that gained unsightly safety-inspired bumpers that cut into the gorgeous lines, this 124 Sport Coupe still has its pretty chrome bumpers that sit snugly against the body. Alsmo note the old-school dealer plate frame and California blue plates, which almost guarantees a lifelong California existence.

The cockpit is just plain awesome, loaded up with auxiliary gauges, a racy three-spoke steering wheel, and cardinal-colored upholstery. Of course, it’s a manual gearbox that is essential to stirring its twin-cam Lampredi engine, which supposedly had ties to an ex-Ferrari engineer that designed it. The Fiat was loaded up with impressive technical features, including four-wheel disc brakes, a double-wishbone front suspension, coil springs, and an electric fuel pump. The Fiat may not have been an outright performance car, but it certainly came with a level of equipment that suggested it was no bargain-basement economy car. The interior is in excellent shape with no evidence of major cosmetic flaws, including what looks like a crack-free dash.

The seller’s listing is short and sweet, and among the few details he offers is that his father bought the car in 1985 and then parked it in the garage since then, drained of all of its fluids. This suggests an intentional decision to let this Fiat sit unused for many years, or perhaps it was meant to be just a short sojourn before life and other events got in the way. Given this car is already a rarity these days and that this one is entirely complete with some choice add-ons and no evidence of rust, it could very well be one of the best ones left. Though the seller’s description is off-putting, the rest of the car is compelling enough to make the trip and see it in person. When’s the last time you spotted a survivor Fiat 124 Sport Coupe?

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Comments

  1. alphasud Member

    Good find Jeff! The title could also read America’s forgotten Fiat. Super rare and somewhat unappreciated but a real gem. My friend used to own one and he loved his but unfortunately the tin worm killed it. I could see this parked next to my Lancia Fulvia and Alfa Romeo 75 Verde in my poor man’s Italian dream garage.

    Like 5
  2. angliagt angliagt Member

    For some reason,I see a lot of Fiat Spiders (124/2000),
    but no coupes.They look much nicer without the big bumpers.
    I hate those wheels! When I bought a Cortina MKII wagon,
    it had the same wheels.I took them off & sold them shortly after
    I bought it.

  3. Steve R

    It has a California blue plates, but the license plate frame from Daly City dealership isn’t necessarily a good thing. Daly City is one of the few cities in the Bay Area not located directly on the coast subjected to coastal fog. Cars that spent time outdoors there are almost guaranteed to rust from the top down. On the other hand, if the car was bought there but spent it’s early years 2 or 3 miles to the south that wouldn’t be an issue. A personal inspection would be wise with this one.

    Steve R

    Like 6
  4. KEVIN L HARPER

    Good find, and it even has the optional AC. The car has obviously been painted as the engine compartment should be the same as the body. These are fun toys to drive, easy to hotrod and parts are relatively cheap. I would have to see it in person because they do rust, and that shiny paint can hide sins. If it checks out the price is right.

    Like 2
    • George Member

      My 1971 Kia 124 coupe had the same vents on the dashboard.

      They are heat and fresh air vents and they are not air-conditioning. I don’t believe any of these cars was ever equipped with air conditioning from the factory

      • SubGothius

        My folks had a ’71 124 Sport coupe with A/C, which was a dealer-installed aftermarket kit that added extra vents and ducting to the lower half and underside of the dash, including right in front of these center console eyeball vents for some reason.

  5. Ben T Spanner

    I bought a new 1974 124 Coupe. Had no problems until the drive home. On the freeway the volt meter dropped to zero. I called my friend the Italian,Italian car mechanic who said the big orange wire had fallen off the fusebox. He was right.
    I bought a blown up earlier engine for $25 and used earlier parts and tuning specs to avold some of the emmission control penalties. I also ripped out the seat belt interlock system. I used belts, and didn’t need a nanny. The clock and 1 wheel bearing replaced under warranty. The plastic iinterior door handles broke, and were replaced with earlier metal ones.
    One of the best handling cars i ever had. It got great mileage even at high speeds. I sold it to a kid who blew it up in 2 weeks. I am certain it was not the car’s fault.

    Like 4
  6. Alan Dempsey

    I’ve always hankered for one of these rockettes. Down here in NZ they were the sportscoupe de riguer in the early 70s, which suited out winding roads. They are truely one of the best handling cars built in that era, and best fun drivers ever. They’ll take on a 911 in the twisties. This car might be a bit high priced in current state methinks.. but if rust-free, $10k plus $3k fettling to make good, and you’ve got yourself a seriously fun fenster with the knowledge that an italian collector ( ie in Italy) will always buy it for a profit if you wished to sell. They’e very sought after in Italy. But you wont do that, because you’ll get it running and shining, drive it once, and fall in llove. Cheers.

    Like 2
  7. Solosolo Solosolo Member

    They were quite common in South Africa but being on the coast we could watch them rust while standing at a traffic light!

    Like 2
  8. Backintheusa

    I also had a new 1974 Sport Coupe and to this day, it was one of the most fun to drive cars I have ever owned. However, it started rusting almost immediately – two winters in Milwaukee probably didn’t help much – and I am sure it was long ago returned to the earth. This one would be a lot of fun, if it is truly rust-free.

  9. Maestro1 Member

    I owned it’s brother, the 24 Spyder which was terrific. This Seller either doesn’t know what he/she is doing or is simply arrogant and presumptuous. but because the car is unique I would put up with his obtuse behavior and be the top bidder after you put your eyes and hands on the car.

  10. Doc

    I had a 68 sports coupe and it was fast and it was one of the best cars I ever had for curves and corners it could take a 90 degree corner at fifty mph gas mileage wasn’t bad either.great cars .

  11. Martin Horrocks

    No-one wants to beilieve this but FIAT was an industry leader in this period, from Fiat 128 to Dino, all models were outstandingly good in their class.

    124 Sports Coupé was pareticularly praised by the likes of R&T/C&D and Car magazines.

    Should you want a cheaper but rust free buy, SEAT also produced this model and with the Spanish climate you can find some good survuivors. Same goes for Portugal, where the cars were imported and badged by Fiat.

    Like 2
  12. George Member

    The first car I ever bought myself was a 1971 Fiat 124 coupe, the previous generation.

    In 1971 you could get a car with a twin cam aluminum engine, five-speed transmission, and sophisticated suspension at Fiat. Amazing.

    I think it was the most fun car I’ve ever had but boy, you could hear it rust at night
    There’s a reason so few survive

    Like 2
  13. freakinutz Member

    If you aren’t familiar with Turlock, it is an extremely warm and dry area of California. If it has been in Turlock all of its life, the chances are pretty good that any rust would simply be surface. As stated previously, these are pretty rare these days. This one is very cool. Its a shame they won’t attempt to get it started. It would help tremendously with selling it.

  14. SubGothius

    “[S]upposedly had ties to an ex-Ferrari engineer that designed it”? It’s called the Lampredi twincam because it was designed by Aurelio Lampredi, who indeed had previously designed several engines for Ferrari in the postwar period up to 1955, when he left Ferrari for Fiat and oversaw all their engine development up to 1977.

    Like 1
  15. On and On On and On Member

    My first new car was a 1970 Fiat 124 coupe. Same color as this one with all black interior. Paid $3264.29 out the door, I actually wanted an Alfa but they were $1000 more, a lot then. Living in Chicago the coupe was the right choice, but winter weather eats all Fiats……..I loved that car and drove it everywhere. My father was a mechanic and he had a 1968 Fiat sedan, so we were familiar with them. Never had any serious mechanical issues, cam housing gaskets were replaced by the dealer and that was just about it. We kept them in high tune and they were dependable. I kept the cap and rotor clean, kissed the points with a proper file and set the timing every oil change which was often….I loved the sound it made, I swear the engine and transmission could sing……Good times were had by all…………It was my baby Ferrari. Still miss it and I was 19 when I bought it.

    Like 1
  16. Quidditas

    The 2.0L was a great engine, simpler and easier to maintain than the Alfa 2.0L particularly when it came to setting valves. The Alfa spider is quite effeminate by comparison and not as practical as the 124. Great cars all round except for the rust but that is quite common for all cars of that era.

  17. chrlsful@aol.com

    Y I had the 1500, 1600, 124 spyders & 128 sedans back in the day. Fix It Again wuz never prt of my language – just normal preventitive maintainence…

    Lotta fun for lill money~

  18. Free wheel'in Member

    Talked with the son. He’s firm at $13 on a 30 year old inoperative Fiat because he sees pristine examples going for$15k at auction. Sounds like the B-J syndrome.

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