Live Auctions

Euro Bumper Candidate: 1977 Fiat 124 Spider

Oh my, how those ugly U.S. bumpers change the looks of the pretty Pininfarina-designed Fiat 124 Spider. These are not terribly difficult cars to find, but this example is pleasingly straight and rust-free with only a coating of dust alerting you to its extended sleep. Although not particularly powerful, this is one of those cars where you don’t need excessive horsepower to have a good time. Find it here on eBay via a classifieds listing for $3,500 or best offer. 

Thanks to Barn Finds reader Will Mason for the find. These Fiats made around 115 b.h.p. via a DOHC four-cylinder utilizing Weber carburetors and an aluminum crossflow head design. A Ferrari engineer was involved in its development, giving the little Fiat slightly exotic DNA. The cars look so much better with the slim, chrome bumpers found on Euro-market vehicles, and the dowdy steel wheels and hubcaps need to be swapped for Minilites ASAP.

The interior always makes me think of a much more sporting vehicle, but it also looks incredibly fun to spend time in. The big wood-rimmed steering wheel, tall gear lever, lots of gauges – it’s like Fiat went through a list of must-haves for a driver-focused cockpit, taking some inspiration from Ferrari along the way. The wood dash inlays and the steering wheel still look quite presentable, but the shift knob will need repair or replacing. Seating surfaces look decent as well (from this vantage point, anyway).

The seller provides very limited information of the health of the motor. Given the extensive dust inside and out, there’s little doubt this Fiat 124 has sat for long stretches at a time. However, he does go so far as to confirm it runs but will need a new brake proportioning valve before it hits the road. The price is not awful for mostly complete car, and this could even be seen as a good investment down the line – but for now, offering $2,000 would be my first strike into hopefully netting a better deal.

Comments

  1. Dan in Texas

    I find it interesting that even 40+ years later, people still complain about the 5 mph bumpers. They were there for a reason, they are part of the historical record, and some cars like the Pacer (yeah, I know) would look even stranger without them.

    • Brian

      The only reason the ugly bumpers are there is government regulations. They were not designed that way as a body feature so removing them is a plus side in style. They do nothing to protect you in that car. I have two currently and have had five others throughout the years. This is a 1500 car at best.

  2. Adam T45 Staff

    I love these. It has the Euro bumpers, but I suspect that it has the US spec suspension. US cars rode higher than their European counterparts as the US has (had?) different requirements for minimum height above the road for headlights. It’s a pretty easy thing to fix (change the springs for Euro ones). Apart from that, clean it up, fix the brakes, drive and enjoy.

  3. RayT Member

    Jeff, are we looking at the same car? It definitely has had a repaint — see overspray underhood, and original (?) white paint on the firewall and inner fenders — and the interior is, shall we say, “worn.” The wood dash panels are pulling away, the dash pad itself is badly cracked, looks like at least one gauge is showing damage, the shift knob is toast, etc., etc., etc. In short, about what I’d expect from a neglected 1977 car that isn’t exactly “exotic” value-wise.

    Given all that, I wouldn’t trust the mechanicals without going through everything. This is a strip-to-the-shell-and-rebuild car to me, and while I like 124s and have driven several, that’s more than it’s worth to me.

    I really don’t mean to be so critical, but all that enthusiasm (which I understand: it’s an Italian Sports Car!) needs to be tempered with a little reality.

  4. ccrvtt

    Can’t say I disagree with anything said so far (probably not a good idea for me to do in this forum anyway!). If it’s solid and the motor isn’t completely trashed it could be a very fun driver. While it would be gorgeous with a full restoration sometimes we just need to drive them and enjoy them.

    My first Corvette had 10K on the clock when I bought it and I treated it like a museum piece. Awe and reverence are fine in their place but sometimes you just gotta have fun.

    The one I have now will need new tires soon.

  5. Fred W.

    Had a blast winding through the gears when I drove my friends in the mid ’70’s. Then he demonstrated how he could, doing about 70, ease it off the road, onto the shoulder and right onto the grass and retain complete control. Really impressed me at the time. That being said, the body looked like swiss cheese after a few years.

  6. Christopher Snapp

    I’m tired of people trashing these bumpers…
    They look better than anything on contemporary Alfas, MGs or Triumphs.

    They are there because of the US government…deal with it.

    As said earlier, they are part of the historical record of the car in its time.

  7. Beatnik Bedouin

    Along with the Earl Scheib repaint, I’d be looking very closely for structural rust, along with the aforementioned mechanical side of things.

    These cars are a lot of fun to drive, especially in Spider form. Both engines and suspension systems are quite tuneable.

  8. BarnfindyCollins

    These cars in good shape are well balanced and feel very modern. The antique shop I worked for dabbled in cars and we sent about a dozen of these cars to Germany about 30 years ago as they really wanted them. I think after Fiat quit building them Malcom Bricklin imported them for a few years until Cadillac entered the picture and agreed to another Italian made car. This car probably would have lasted another 10 years much like the 105 Alfa spider.

  9. Lawyer George

    Another patina –dirty–car. I still think it would bring a higher bid were it washed before listed.

  10. Rube Goldberg Member

    Years ago, when I had my MGB in the 70’s, we never associated with owners of these cars. Fact is, we’d laugh and drive by them when they were broke down.(say what you will about British cars, in over 200K miles, my MG never stranded me) I had a friend that was a Fiat salesman around that time. When visiting him at the dealer, there were always no less than a dozen of these parked outside waiting on parts. That’s when I felt sorry for the owners. Looking at it today, when they ran, it looks like a cool car, and a lot of people must have had fun driving it, like I say, when they DID run. Again, I’d have to wonder about spare parts. You couldn’t get parts 40 years ago.

    • Klharper

      Yeah, and we laughed at the little British cars. The Fiat will run rings around the lbc’s. Better handling, better brakes, better engines and transmission and more comfortable, oh and a much better top design.
      Parts availability is very good, with several vendors in the US and some overseas. Parts prices are great and values are definitely on the rise.
      This one has been resprayed and I would check it carefully for rust, particularly in the rockers. As a plus it does have AC. I think 3500 for this one is reaching.
      And didn’t this one appear previously in BF.

      • Rube Goldberg Member

        Oh, I know, we were a cocky bunch back then. Truth is, all these roadsters were fun to drive. They all took a beating, amazing any survived at all.

  11. Roach Cleatus Sargum

    Forget the bumpers on these cars but strap in multiple fire extinguishers as they had quite a few engine fires 🔥

  12. jdjonesdr

    The first time I saw a wood steering wheel was on one of these. Every vehicle I have owned since then has had one. Talk about an impression.

  13. Ben T. Spanner

    I am a previous 124 Fiat Coupe owner. Bought t new and had no problems until I drove it home. It quit charging. I called my friend the Fiat mechanic he said, “the big orange wire fell off the fuse box” He was right. Very dew problems in the four years or so that I had It. Iv’e had Healeys, Jags and Triumphs. Reliability about equal.

    This car is from the rust belt. (I lived in Ohio) Look at the rust on the air cleaner. You know it has body rust. A cheap paint job indicates cheap body work. (Spoken as a ex body man.)

  14. Solosolo KEN TILLY Member

    First thing I would do is to remove the bumpers and drive it as is, forever!

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