Might Not Break The Bank: 1977 Fiat 124

I’m obviously missing my recently departed convertible. Given the opportunity to pen a column about an amazing Challenger, or a killer Macho Trans Am – why would I choose to present a little, dusty red 1977 Fiat 124 Spider? I’ve never been accused of making great decisions in life – and this just proves it. But hear me out as I make a case for this little Ohio barn find.

First, the mind can wander about the possibilities as you scan the pictures – mostly because the seller simply states “5 speed, good body, needs brake work (proportioning valve), nice wheels, runs.” The pictures however, can say it all. A thick layer of dust covers every inch from bumper to bumper – which leads one to assume with only 38k miles, its been stored away in Ohio for decades. And, as you scan for details – you can see that it has all the bits and parts intact, perhaps so much so that a couple weekends of serious cleaning, buffing, scrubbing, washing, and waxing might produce a quick top-down worthy driver. (One can dream).

Found here on eBay, the seller is asking $3.5k with a make an offer option. In near mint condition these little beauties are still quite affordable Italian sportsters – most under $12k, and upwards of $16k for show pieces. If you’ve got a reliable transportation option for everyday, it’s not hard to imagine bouncing around the streets in the heat of summer in this 124. I point out the need to have a reliable auto option because I will never forget the advice my Father in Law gave me about his ’74 Spider. He told me “It’s called a Fiat 124 because you only get 1 good solid 24 hours of running out of it each month.”

Still, with the rebirth of the Fiat 124 Spider in 2016, the lineage of these great little cars has been resurrected, and interest in the models is growing for a new generation who see very few on the road since ending in 1980 (although Pininfarina marketed the car at the end of its production as the Pininfarina Spider Azzura from ’83 – 85). If like me, you’ve been stashing away coins in the piggy bank for the next convertible, this dusty barn find might be the one who finally breaks the bank (and hopefully not in rebuild or repairs).

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Comments

  1. Gaspumpchas

    FIAT==fix it again tonite,or, fix it again, tony….

  2. Clark

    I have a 78 and love it! They are easy to work on and such Fun cars! This one is worth more than double the asking price! !

  3. Rex Rice

    FIAT: ‘Futile Italian Attempt At Transportation’ or ‘Fix It Another Tow’
    yet I have over 300,000 miles on my daily driver 124 Spider. I love it!

    • Dolphin Dolphin Member

      Good to see someone reporting high miles and satisfaction with a Fiat, especially a 124 Spider. I know of other Spiders with high mileage and satisfied owners.

      FIAT often gets a bad rap for building small cars that sold cheap and didn’t always last on the road. But it’s sometimes forgotten that small, cheap Fiats put people—and whole families—back on the road after WW2. That made a big difference for Italy’s recovery back then.

      Some Fiats, like the Dinos, are selling for big money. And good 124s can still be affordable, and fun.

      This car looks like it might be in decent condition and worth the ask, but you would want to check out the underside, since some Fiats have developed serious rust. I guess engineering for and protection from rust wasn’t high on the list in sunny Italy. But get a good one that’s been taken care of like any car should be and I think it can work out well, like it has for Rex with his 300K 124 Spider.

    • DonC

      Sold my ‘82 Fiat 2000 last year to a collector in Australia. My “Farina” was beautiful. I know the joys you folks talk about restoring Chevies, Fords, Challengers, etc because I bought my Italian joy in 1985 with only 13,000 on her and she was my daily driver for 25 years. Then I had the pleasure of restoring her. Body, seats, carpet, trunk, you name it. Screw the reputation. With a header and performance exhaust, bilsteins, and some tuning tricks I learned from a guy named Mario, she & I routinely ate Miatas for lunch. Rossa Corsa red with a sand beige interior….she’s a head turner. 130,000 miles and still going strong down under.

    • Mountainwoodie

      Agree with Rex. I’ve had both a ’76 124 Spider and a ’73 Coupe. Liked them both a lot. Not as tinny as you would imagine. The Coupe has a certain elegance and the Spider is a good looking car. If you can find a solid one its a relatively cheap way to fun . This one looks like it has air conditioning. Wonder if the car would still run if you had the air on (joke, relax)

  4. johnfromct

    Garr, I think the price is likely so low for a reason. Look at the rust in the engine bay. I grew up in Ohio. The combination of humidty and cold are not kind to metals. So I suspect there are no pics of the underside for a reason. Just call me suspicious.

    If it is all it is claimed to be, I’d go for it, and as soon as it were mine I’ d change out those bumpers for the Euro style.

    • arizman2

      I don’t see any evidence of rust of any consequence in the engine compartment, only evidence of a lousy respray from white to red

  5. Gord

    great fun cars… this has been repainted
    the big issue is selling to north american market… at the time few cars had timing BELTS as this did.. .much like the yugo (also an italian design once removed)… you had to take care of them… we had a few, parted out too many (rust was the killer), final was a turbo spider, very rare.. .but peppy (better than the 1st one with an automatic (from factory using a gm chevette tranny!)
    look for a twisted top frame… many opened while sitting… opening not too bad but reffing on the top while sitting would tend to bend it toward the driver over time… other point… bad grounds… lucas was not the only god of darkness! Not sure about parts these days but at one point there were places like bayless etc. where could get most stuff. Rust is the key though, everything else is doable. The respray and what looks like a cracked/deformed dash suggest 138 k not 38k miles… success in the sale,
    gord up in wintry ontario canada under a few feet of snow now
    fiat up here was fix it again tony (funnily at the time our mechanic’s name WAS tony
    oh yeah… bleeding the cooling system was a toughie too… due to where the rad was relative to the engine.

  6. Klharper

    I have driven these all over the place including one epic trip from Mebane NC to Manzanillo Mexico. Most of the problems stem from poor service by mechanics rather than the car themselves.
    I would check this one over carefully. It has been resprayed as the engine bay should be the same color as the car. It also has some rust issues, the hinges on the hood have already been repaired and I would have to see the undersides of the car before I put an offer in. On the plus side it does have dealer installed AC and it still has the air pump which is amazing.
    I recently looked over a 74 for a client and it was in better shape than this one and had the benefit of the early chrome bumpers. it sold for 2700.00 and given that perspective it really knocks down the price that i would offer for this one. Having said that Spider values are on the rise, and nice spiders are now selling for well over 10k.
    Oh parts are available for these and the supply is getting better. Best places are Midwest Bayless and Auto Ricambi

  7. Warren

    There is a reason this has an asking of $3500. Based on the pics, especially the drivers side rocker, I would inspect this one before even thinking of putting an offer in.

  8. Maestro1 Member

    I had a 1979, drove it for years without trouble, sold it to a neighbor who still has it and he’s not having any trouble either.

  9. David Miraglia

    Always liked the Spider. A poor mans Alpha.

    • DonC

      David, really? I’m a former Fiat 2000 owner, my brother has an Alpha Spider. We looked good going down the road side by side, but his repair bills were twice mine. He’s the poor man

      • Kevin Sellwood

        DonC and David Miraglia it’s ALFA not Alpha. Alfa stands for Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili

  10. arizman2

    I’ve owned several 124 spiders. First I bought new in ’71, raced it in the SCCA showroom stock sports car class in the northwest and held the track record at Seattle International Raceway. Later I converted it to E production, did some suspension work, installed the dual weber 40IDF carb setup the car came with standard in Europe. Did not do so well with the fully prepared MGBs and Triumphs. I will say that the car never broke down, ever and so believe that the rap against the reliability is baloney…. I would run this car back and forth between San Francisco and Seattle at very high speeds and it always ran like a champ.
    I just bought a rust free straight ’76 124 spider in Tucson for $300 cash which I plan to use for parts.

  11. Steve

    Dash appears to have at least one major crack and 2 other areas look as if they may be cracked. And the dash panel has been pulled out for a repair or ?

  12. Rodney

    We have a 79 also and love the car. Ours has an auto trans so it’s not quick by any means but it’s fun and easy to drive. There’s a ton of knowledge on fiatspider.com and a few US retailers that carry most parts you need for them so for the most part easy to fix.

    The other big bonus to us was the back seat. While it’s not big enough for adults our 60 pound dog fits in well which we couldn’t do with MG’s or other small convertibles.

    But the $3500 I think is a stretch. They are often for sale for $3000 or so down here in Arizona and here’s one in better shape it looks on Craigslist. I think you would be better off paying for the shipping than dealing with the rust.
    https://phoenix.craigslist.org/cph/cto/d/1981-fiat-spider-124-sport/6376474217.html

    • jesus bortoni

      Good looking car for $3000. If my wife let me I would
      snatch it up.

    • arizman2

      That looks like a bargain. I’d snatch that up, lose the cowcatcher bumpers for some early model ones, do the suspension and that would be a nice ride

  13. Miguel

    I worked at a Chevy dealer back in 1987 in California. It was my job to make sure the used cars ready for sale.

    We had a 1986 model of this car with like 12,000 on it.

    I tried to take it home on multiple occasions to see what it needed, but I never made it out of the driveway. It always had an issue that would not allow it to drive.

    I thought that if it had so many problems only being 1 year old and with so few miles, it would not age well.

    One odd thing was that it was a 1986 model. I verified the VIN many times. The car had no third brake light on it. I wonder if Fiat was exempt from that or was there another reason it didn’t have it.

  14. John

    Easy to see in enlarged pics this is a heap of rust.

  15. Kevin Sellwood

    Fiat are the second or third largest car manufacturer in the world, they own Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Lamboghini, Lancia amongst others. Before all you Americans start knocking them don’t forget they own also Chrysler as well, after having to bail them out a few years ago.

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