fbpx
HomePick of the DayPick of the Day: 1974 Fiat 124 Spider sports car in cheery...

Pick of the Day: 1974 Fiat 124 Spider sports car in cheery yellow

The greatest bargain among classic Italian roadsters comes at a modest price

-

The Fiat 124 Spider is the best-value classic Italian sports car on the planet. It offers a twin-cam inline-4 designed by legendary Ferrari engine designer Aurelio Lampredi, offering strong performance for the period, and beautiful styling by Tom Tjaarda at Pininfarina.

The interior is comfortable for anyone regardless of size, and it has one of the finest and easiest-to-operate manual convertible tops ever put on a car.

fiat

It should come as no surprise to those who know me that I love classic Fiat 124s.  My first car was a 124 coupe and I have owned two others, both Spiders.

The Pick of the Day is one of these wonderful cars, a 1974 Fiat 124 Spider offered by a private owner in Dover, Delaware, who is advertising the sports car on ClassicCars.com.

The seller seems quite familiar with Fiat Spiders and claims to have owned many over the years.  This Spider has covered only 44,250 miles from new, the seller says, adding that it is a “very clean, well-maintained, low-mileage 1974 Fiat Spider.”

fiat, Pick of the Day: 1974 Fiat 124 Spider sports car in cheery yellow, ClassicCars.com Journal

The ad’s thorough description is broken up into separate parts of the car. The exterior section says the car received a quality repaint by its previous owner in its original Fiat color No. 223, Bright Yellow, and retains a nice gloss and finish.

There are no dents or nicks, body panels are straight and the rocker panels were replaced at the time of repaint, the seller notes.   The chrome is described as having slight pitting but still presentable. A new convertible top has been installed. 

fiat

The Fiat’s interior section says that the seats have been reupholstered in the correct vinyl, all gauges work as they should except for the clock, but that the dash and console could use work. The seller recommends a dash cap, although I would replace the entire dash as it is the right thing to do with a car this nice.

The mechanical section describes the car as starting easy and running strong, and that the 5-speed manual transmission shifts smoothly. The owner has done a recent full service, the ad says, including complete top-end gaskets, timing-belt service, oil change, tune-up and adjustment of the Weber carburetor.  The differential and electronic fuel pump have been rebuilt.

fiat

This classic Italian roadster sounds completely sorted, aside from the relatively minor interior issues, and looks great in the photos with the ad.  The asking price is just $13,500.

To view this vehicle on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day

Hagerty
Andy Reid
Andy Reid's first car, purchased at age 15, was a 1968 Fiat 124 coupe. His second, obtained by spending his college savings fund, was a 1966 Ferrari 330 GT 2+2. Since then, he has owned more than 150 cars—none of them normal or reasonable—as well as numerous classic motorcycles and scooters. A veteran of film, television, advertising and helping to launch a few Internet-based companies, Reid was a columnist for Classic Motorsports magazine for 12 years and has written for several other publications. He is considered an expert in European sports and luxury cars and is a respected concours judge. He lives in Canton, Connecticut.

13 COMMENTS

  1. If you aren’t a mechanic DON’T even consider this. F ix I t A gain T ony— is a true review of a FIAT. Delicate and problematic come to mind. Anything that can possibly break- will. It will be small, hard to get at and impossible or expensive to repair. If you like this as a hobby/ lifestyle you will be fine. I loved it for years. BUT- you will need small hands, patience and $$$. Unless I was Italian, I would find a much simpler way to enjoy a $13,000 vehicle.

  2. My uncle Bob bought one new, a ’72 Spider, at Continental Motors in Chicago. Within 18 months it had holes (plural) the size of your fist popping thought the body work. Fun to drive, but wow – they rusted if the air was humid. I owned one years later that had somehow escaped the tin-worm and it was a joy to drive, but I just somehow never loved the styling. Liked it, but didn’t love it. And if you’re going to put up with a car like this, you HAVE to love it. It seemed to be just “generic roadster” to me, even more bland than the mechanically more pedestrian MGB – which is FAR easier to maintain without specialized (expensive) help – at home in your own garage. Agree on the convertible top mechanism and twin cam engine and four-wheel disc brakes. A very high specification for this market segment. If – and that’s a big “if” you can find a rot-free one and you enjoy a little exotica on the cheap, they are good value.

  3. I concur. I was a mechanic from 1970 to 1980 and agree that Fiats (unfortunately) were a POS. Especially the 850 Spider. I worked in a large independent repair shop with a good reputation and when word got out that we worked on foreign cars, the Fiats came-a-runnin’ ! Again, especially that 850 Spider. Young girls loved them. They were cute, little sporty convertibles and were CHEAP ! (I think they were only around 2K, new). Perfect for sunny Southern California. But boy, what a POS. Our shop was doing engine overhauls and basic ring & valve jobs on these things when they were just a little over a year old. They were out of factory warrantee and smoking like hell due to piston ring failure. All this was happening at only between 15,000 and 30.000 miles. Good thing was, the engine was easy. If the broken rings didn’t gouge the cylinder wall too bad, the overhaul was just a one day job!

  4. Sporty looking car but I had a friend that owned one & he loved it when it was running but alas it was always needing something mechanical done to it so he grew tired of the constant repairs & the money he was spending so he sold it.

  5. I totally agree had its sister coupe 124 in/ about same year. Rust you name it in/out of garage in Flushing,NY,NYC an Englishman owned (now there’s a problem brewing) I think I sold it in mid eighties for $400 paid 2 grand
    definitely a Fix it again Tony withpout a doubt You can buy some very special autos for 13 grand!
    Seller saw a sucker coming! ME

  6. As a young college grad back in the early 70’s, I wanted to buy one of these. Spent many trips to the dealer looking at it. It was either save for a house or buy the car. I went for the house. A few years later,my sister bought a used Fiat sedan and it will so full of rust, one fender was literally falling off the car. The comments on this pick of the day were great. This site is blessed with folks who know their cars, not necessarily me.

  7. So I have owned three of these cars, including my first ever car. Here is what I know.

    They require proper servicing. This means you need to do the cam belt on time and have the valves adjusted occasionally. Also typical things like plugs and such.

    Yes they can rust and in period when used as daily drivers as they were in period they were notorious rust buckets. Just for comparison all cars from the period rusted and they are honestly no worse than an Alfa, Lancia, or MG/Triumph/Healey.

    That being said, these days they are not often used as daily drivers and almost never used in in climate weather let alone in snow and ice.

    What they are is one of the best small bore classic Italian roadsters of the period, with an engine and gearbox at least as good as any Alfa and in many ways better.

    They are also fun to drive, nice looking, and the body is actually well put together with a better quality feel than a British roadster of the period. I state this having owned all the aforementioned cars as well.

    The Fix It Again Tony moniker is from the 1970s and is something we either need to outgrow or banish completely. All old cars have issues as they are old. If you get a well cared for/restored/ or nice original 124/2000 Spider they offer quite a lot for the money spent. Consider that any Aga Spider is both more expensive to buy and has parts prices twice as high as the Fiat Spider. They are in no way twice the car. Again I have owned 3 nice Alfa spiders so I am not just making this stuff up.

    The classic Fiat Spiders are an excellent classic European roadster, that are still affordable and fun to drive. It drive me a bit crazy that these classic cars are thought of as unreliable. Compare them to other classics and they are about the same. Sure some of the parts for a Camaro or Mustang are likely cheaper, as are some MG and Triumph parts, but I’ll say it again, the Fiat is no less dependable than any of those cars.

    Now for a modern Fiat Spider story. My friend Steve bought my 1968 Fiat 124 Spider, that I had sympathetically restored, from the guy who bought it for too little money at auction. He then proceeded to drive it from California to his home in Texas. When he got to Texas he decided to replace the head gasket as it was a 54k mile engine that was more than 40 years old at the time. He did this. The next year he drove the car to Monterey from Texas, won his class at Concorso Italiano, and then drove it back to Texas without a hitch. If you buy a well cared for classic Fiat spider this is the kind of story you are likely to tell in 2021. Get off the 1970s horror stories of the Fiat Spider, they all occurred 50 years ago, and the cars are used differently today and usually properly cared for.

    • Sorry Andy but, I beg to differ. As a mechanic, I have many, MANY stories I could tell about repairing these “well maintained” cars. Literally, all were newer, one to three years old, 15k-30k miles The cars were brought to our shop because the owners didn’t want to pay “dealer rates”. Now, I’ll admit we didn’t work on very many 124’s (mostly just head gaskets and valve jobs) The source of my stories come from my personal experience with the 850 Spider. And sorry, it WAS a POS. People back then bought a brand new car thinking it would be reliable, daily transportation. They were NOT. Sure, if you bought a restored one now, babied it, serviced it and kept it in the garage and just took it to a show once in a while, well, of course it would appear to be more reliable under those conditions.

      • Mike with the 850 I completely agree, while a stunning design for the body the quality of the steel used, the wacky rear mounted, small displacement engine and a myriad of other things makes the 850 an endless pain in the butt to deal with. I owned one for a week and sold it and this was in the 1990s. 🙂

        The 124 is a very different car and a whole other thing altogether. The 124 was properly engineered and my experience with these cars is that they do require care but are no less reliable than a MG or other roadster from the era. Also it you start to look, the parts prices for most Fiat 124 cars are both cheaper and of better quality than the MG parts we see these days, let alone Alfa parts which tend to cost 3 times as much as those for the Fiat. Don’t believe that? Price brake calipers for each and you will end up as surprised as I was.

        My list of repairs for my three 124 cars was a head gasket on the first(I was rebuilding a car I bought in boxes so put the entire engine together as well as the rest of the car), A timing belt/tensioner, and valve adjustment on the second, a brake light switch and coil for the third(both were original and the car was almost 50 years old at the time). I drove the three cars for tens of thousands of miles and did not do anything else but standard service and consumables such as tires, plugs, points, oil/filter, and brake rotors and pads.

        While the Fix It Again Tony term might be accurate on the 850(it usually is) the 124 is a completely different story.

        What drives me crazy is the people who say they rust away. Of course they rusted when used in places where salt is used and when being used as daily drivers. None of these are being used as daily drivers anymore for the most part and if the rust has been repaired properly, or if you buy a car that came from a place that did not use salt and is rust free, they no longer seem to have this problem.

        Personally after wonting the following small bore roadsters: 2 MGBs, a TR3, a Spitfire, a 1967 Alfa Duetto, a 1973 Alfa Spider, a 1991 Alfa Spider Veloce, a 1963 Alfa Spider, a Jensen Healey, Porsche 914/4, and a Datsun 1600, the Fiats were less troublesome than everything but the Datsun and the interior, top, and engine/gearbox combination and the Tom Tjaarda/Pininfarina styling of the Fiat made it the best of them all. Also since Tom basically built a 5/8 scale 275 GTS with the Fiat 124 I am puzzled by those who do not like the design and yet love the 275 GTS. See the cars side bu side and you will quickly realize it is just about the same car only a little smaller.

    • I’m so happy to read your comment as I have just purchased a 1978 red spider. I’m retired 68 year old educator and small vintage convertible was on my bucket list. I did not even tell my husband of 46 years until I made the deal by phone and arranged to have a cracker jack mechanic gear head travel with his trailer to pick up. He told me he would not bring back unless it checked out. He found a leak in radiator and got them to adjust price. Other than that it’s perfect for what I want- just to take it out for joy riding on pretty fall and spring days. My husband is happy I bought it. Ps- it had a Queen cd in the CD player and a Beatles cd in the door panel. Blast from the past. I also cannot wait to show my grandchildren the cute little handles that roll up the windows. Love it!

  8. While in the Navy at North Island (Coronado/San Diego) in the the early 70’s, a friend left me his 124 (convertible) to use while he took a months leave back east……and while in my “care”……I began documenting every problem and stoppage and breakdown of said 124. I did not want to be blamed for its demise, or any kind of mechanical or electrical damage…as it sure acted like it was headed that way. Understand…this Italian turd was a less than one year old (new) 124. I had heard of Fiats being guaranteed pieces of fecal material…and this car did not vary from that description. It was too bad…the car was nice looking and was a “chick magnet” …maroon in color…but I could not depend on it operating normally, so after a week and a half, I parked it in a secure/safe area, called my friend and informed him, and he sold the POS (Piece Of Caa-Caa Poo-Poo) upon his return from leave, to an unsuspecting kid straight out of Navy boot camp. We would see it……more often than not……at the base “garage” area provided so you could do your own vehicle maintenance. The kid wised up and sold it to another “boot camper”…and eventually the car disappeared from the base. Good riddance.

  9. Biggest problem I had in 1973 when I bought a new 124 was vapor locking. It was constant and never could after three years get it cured. Otherwise a joy to drive.
    Bob

  10. Oh my goodness! I read these comments and giggle. 35 years ago I owned a car exactly like this, my husband fought me tooth and nail, did not want me to buy it. Should’ve listen to him, I owned it for one year and she left me stranded six different times! Wound up replacing the electrical system with a Datsun electrical system! Was a beautiful canary yellow when I bought her and within six months Rust busted out everywhere

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Recent Posts