Fun Driver: 1981 Fiat 124 Spider

Well, if you know anything about the Fiat 124 Spider, it is a labor of love. This silver Fiat 124 Spider shows 132,000 miles but is said to be in great condition for its age. This car is located in Flanders, New Jersey which may mean that it is from the same dealer that the 1981 Fiat 124 Spider Turbo that we covered last week. This convertible sports car is listed here on eBay and is currently bid to $5,110 with 3 days remaining.

The red leather interior and wood appointed dash look inviting in this little sports car. However, there is a crack in the dash but the soft top is said to fit well with no leaks. The gauges and electrical system works. The body is in great condition and the paint has a few scuffs but no rust is evident.

The seller encourages an in person inspection because the car is being sold as is. It may be the silver paint and shadows but some of the body panels look to be different shades. The wheels also look like they may be missing the correct caps. The 1981 Fiat 124 Spider was fitted with a 2.0 liter twin-cam inline four-cylinder engine which produced 102 horsepower and 110 lb ft of torque.

I am no Fiat expert but this seems to be a fun car to drive with its 5-speed manual transmission. My brother who owned a used Fiat 124 Spider in the 1980’s does not have any good memories of his car. He constantly had mechanical problems and added his fair share of oil to keep the car going during his ownership. I am a little surprised at the bidding. At auction, I have always seen these cars under $5,000. Let me know what you think.

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  1. Bultaco

    These are great little summer cars. Much more practical than most of the 60s-70s Brit sports cars because of the snug, easy to fold top and 5-speed gearbox. They’re a little more complicated to maintain because they have a timing belt DOHC engine, but nothing a decent Saturday mechanic can’t handle. IMO, the Fiat’s styling is more attractive than the contemporary Alfa Spider’s.

    Like 3
  2. Classic Steel

    Cute compacts. I have known three people who had these and one actually liked it with few mechanical issues with the engine and fuel injection.👍

    Granted they are old cars now and not new. I wont mention to much of the relative with her two year old one that had a engine fire 🔥 back in the day and pulled over on the interstate without s’mores to make. 😂

    I always thought these would be a fun car to beef up and put a JDM hot rod engine transplant 👍

    Like 1
  3. Howard A Member

    “Labor”, or “Labour” for some, is the key word there,,,just kidding, you Fiat geeks, this is a nice car, just remember, being an “interference” motor, by the time you hear the rattling and knocking, it’s too late. Still say, with much disagreement, the Italian MGB.

    Like 3
    • araknid78

      This is actually a Spider 2000 and the 2 ltr engine was a non-interference model IIRC

      Like 2
      • SubGothius

        …sorta. The valves can’t contact the pistons, but they can contact each other, and the #2 conrod cap nut can strike the vestigial fuel pump drive lobe on the end of the aux. shaft.

  4. Rich

    Between the Lotus Elan, the BMW 2002 and the Fiat 124 I had at various times, the Fiat was the best overall sports car, the easiest to take care of and the most fun. I loved that you pull up the top cover while you were driving if it started to rain. AND it actually has a back seat

    Like 2
    • arizman2

      I agree ! In fact, I had a pristine coral colored ’71 that I put the european version dual 40IDF downdraft webbers on with a set of mild cams, a guy with a very nice Jag xke convert drove it and he immediately wanted to trade cars with me. Naturally I refused, this was around ’73 and at the time, I did not see any value in an xke.

  5. Summitrunner Member

    Had a ‘73 one of these. Was a blast to drive with the top down. You can drop the top with one hand at a traffic light. Only trouble I had was a failed fuel pump and a broken panhard rod. (That was some exciting driving.) It was a ruster though.
    Sold the car to my brother-in-law and he drove it for a year until Fiat had to buy it back after the Justice Department forced a recall.

    • arizman2

      Interesting, never heard of a justice department Fiat 124 “Buy Back Recall”

      Was this buy back recall for ’73 Fiats or all years? I have two ’75s presently that have been sitting for years, is the buy back still in force? I wouldn’t mind having them bought back at this point because I am restoring two ’63 thunderbird converts and will never get around to restoring them

  6. Maestro1 Member

    I had one, a ’79, and it was trouble free with the exception of the Prince of Darkness, i.e., when using the left turn signal the windshield wipers would engage and the headlights would blink on and off at night, greeting those in traffic. Took it to a very small Italian shop in an alley in Los Angeles (this is the old days) he fixed it for a nominal charge and the car was absolutely fine afterwards. I’m too far away. Someone near it buy it.

  7. James A. Mogey

    Lovely car and indeed fun to drive. I entered a lottery to win one back in the ’70’s, but failed to win. With no rust evident, this should be a great purchase, though it looks to me that the passenger door has been hit and popped back out sometime in its career. I wish I could afford it, but Covid . . .

  8. arizman2

    Have owned several, raced all of them in SCCA road racing events and auto-crossed them. All of them were trouble free, ran strong. IMO they have a bad rap because folks that bought them did not maintain them properly.

    Like 4
  9. Don

    We had a 131 fiat in 1976( and still do!!) that had the 124 2000cc motor n never had problems…. our 131 is now in italy( in a barn!!!) we gave it to our son ( who was born in ‘76!!) n lives in Bologna,Italy n says he wants to turn it into an ABARTH replica…
    Anyhow as for the 124/ the turbo one was a better deal, but that’s my opinion for the$$$

    Like 1
  10. Jim

    I have owned numerous Fiats in my life & I never had any exceptional problems with them. Maintenance is the key. Almost without exception, those who had problems with them were the people that didn’t take care of them. Even the rust issue wasn’t a problem for people who followed suggested maintenance. I can’t remember which particular car it was for sure, (I think it was the 128SL) but the owners manual recommended spraying oil on the rust prone areas of the vehicle as part of regular maintenance. I still remember how surprised I was to see that in an owners manual. My step-dad taught me to do that to ALL vehicles back in the early 60s & I consequently never had a problem with rust on any vehicle that didn’t already have rust when I acquired it.

    Like 1
  11. t-bone bob

    Ended:Aug 16, 2020 , 6:13PM
    Winning bid:US $6,675.00[ 34 bids ]

    Item location:Flanders, New Jersey

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