A Classic Fiat 124 Spider Could Become a Valuable Collectible

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By Car Brand Experts

The 2017 Fiat 124 Spider has been the center of attention lately, but those seeking a profitable investment might want to think of something a bit more aged. If I propose that your next car purchase should be a vintage Futuristic Italian convertible with a graceful, Pininfarina-designed exterior, a high-performance independent suspension, and a sophisticated wooden and leather interior, paired with a dual-overhead-cam engine by Aurelio Lampredi, a manual five-speed gearbox, four disc brakes, and lightweight Cromodora alloy wheels, you might mistake it for a Ferrari worth a fortune. Not to mention the hefty bills for maintenance.

If I were to explain that all of these features—combined with excellent ergonomics and cost-effective servicing—could be yours for a price in the mid four-figure range akin to a Prada suitcase, you might suspect that I had been spending too much time in enclosed spaces with a Piaggio Ape. While that may have some truth to it, it doesn’t erase the existence of the Fiat 124 from 1968 to 1985. Did I forget to mention that these vehicles also offer a spacious trunk and back seats, as well as a retractable top that is among the easiest to operate on any roadster, ever (click, click, boom)?

The Spider was specifically designed for the American market, with over 75 percent of its nearly 200,000 units sold there during its almost two-decade tenure. Its popularity stemmed from its affordable price, abundant standard features, and its main competitors being outdated and inefficient rag-top vehicles like the Triumph Spitfire and MG Midget.

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Brett Berk/TheDrive.com

“The Fiat 124 Spider is distinguished among vintage sports cars because, upon its debut in 1966, it was significantly more advanced in terms of technology compared to its rivals,” explains Csaba Vandor, co-owner of AutoRicambi, a leading authority and parts supplier for the Spider. “While the British cars from that period lagged a decade behind in technology, the 124 was a decade ahead. To find similar features to those standard on a Spider, one would have had to opt for an Alfa Romeo or Jaguar, at a much higher price. The Fiat 124 Spider offered exceptional value for its cost.”


“Recently, with the launch of the new 124, the 124 Spider has seen an increase in exposure in magazines, which is also improving its reputation,” Vandor mentions. “Individuals who are just discovering Spiders and realizing what an incredible deal they are for a stylish, enjoyable sports car,” he explains. “And prices are now beginning to reflect this.”

Despite Fiat producing around 700 turbocharged models for the US market towards the end of the car’s production (1980-1981), it is advisable to steer clear of these, as the turbo system was unreliable and unpredictable, leading to many being uninstalled. The very early 1966-69 European market-only variants should also be avoided due to issues with a driveshaft-equipped torque tube and unique interior elements for which spare parts are not readily accessible.

fiat-124-spider-collectible-art-4.jpgBrett Berk/TheDrive.com

Furthermore, it all boils down to discovering the vehicle that aligns best with your financial plan and requirements. (“The real deal, obviously, is the vehicle that someone has invested a significant amount of money in, as that investment is seldom recouped from a sale,” Vandor remarks.) None of the Fiat 124 models are exceptionally swift, but each one is responsive and remarkably well-balanced. Early models feature a diminutive carbureted engine and slender, chrome bumper accents to match; later models come with enhanced engine capacity and fuel injection, albeit often laden with bulky extras like air conditioning and power windows, along with hefty hundred-pound steel tube collision buffers. Since the design remained virtually unaltered throughout the car’s life, basic components from certain emission-constrained, Malaise era mid-70s models can be effortlessly swapped with a sturdier, better-sounding alternative. Fiat’s budget-conscious legacy, coupled with extensive service and parts support (including Vandor’s workshop), render repairs and upgrades notably more cost-effective compared to those for Alfa Romeos or Lancias.

“This engine boasts formidable strength, adaptability, and a penchant for high revs,” Vandor highlights. “These cars bring joy and delight to their owners. Unless they exhibit unruly behavior, in which case they can become . . . unpredictable.”

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