1981 Fiat
Spider 2000

Location: Indianapolis
VIN #:124CSO 00177807
Engine:2 Ltr DOHC 4
Transmission:5 Speed Manual

The 124 Sport Spider is a 2+2 convertible marketed by Fiat from 1966 to 1979 – having debuted at the November 1966 Turin Auto Show. Designed and manufactured by Italian carrozzeria Pininfarina, Fiat continued to market the monocoque-bodied car as the 2000 Spider from 1979 to 1982. Pininfarina itself assumed the car's marketing from 1983 to the end of its production in 1985 – as the Pininfarina Spider Azzura. The Sports Spider and the Fiat 124 Coupé shared the numeric portions of their name with the 124 sedan along with much of their running gear – and, in the case of the Coupé, a shared platform. The Sports Spider utilized a shorter platform along with a shorter wheelbase, and in contrast to the Pinifarina styled and manufactured Spider, Fiat designed and manufactured the Coupé in-house.

The four-cylinder engine used in the Spider and Coupé was a double overhead cam, aluminum crossflow head version of the sedan's pushrod unit. It started in 1966 with a capacity of 1438 cc progressively increasing to 1608 cc in 1970 (although this reduced to 1,592 cc in 1973), 1,756 cc in 1974 and finally 1,995 cc in 1979. Designed by Dan Vano. Bosch fuel injection replaced the previously used Weber carburetors midway through 1980. In 1981 and 1982, Fiat USA, Inc. partnered with Legend Industries to create approximately 700 turbo models for US markets. There was also a supercharged model called Volumex offered toward the end of production, which was sold only in Europe, where it cost 35% more than a regular, fuel-injected Spidereuropa. This family of engines was designed by ex-Ferrari chief engineer Aurelio Lampredi and in one form or another remained in production into the 1990s giving it one of the longest production runs in history. The double overhead cam (DOHC) version was the first mass manufactured DOHC to utilize reinforced rubber timing belts, an innovation that would come into nearly universal use in the decades after its introduction. Its family powered race cars such as: FIAT 131 Mirafiori, Special T, Lancia Beta Montecarlo, Delta Integrale and many others.

Suspension was conventional by unequal length wishbones and coil over damper at the front and by coil sprung live rear axle at the rear which was located by a transverse link (Panhard rod) and two pairs of forward extending radius rods to react braking and acceleration and to control axle wind-up. The Coupe and Spider were first sold in the US market in 1968. In 1969, the Spider featured four-wheel disc-brakes, double overhead cams, hesitation wipers, steering-column mounted lighting-controls, radial ply tires and a five-speed manual transmission. An optional three-speed automatic transmission from General Motors was available from 1979 through 1985 for North America as well as Japan. Its convertible top could be raised and locked in under a minute. When the engine was upgraded to two litres, the model was renamed as the Fiat 2000 Spider.

An early special version was the 124 Spider Abarth which featured an independent rear axle, hardtop, different seats, interior etc. and only came in 3 colours. In 1971 the 124 Spider was prepared for the World Rally Championship when Abarth became involved with its production and development. Abarth designer Ing. Colucci was responsible for getting the 124 Spider into Group 4 rally trim. Over this period the Abarth Spider had relative success with wins at the 1972 Hessen Rally, Acropolis Rally , 1973 Polish Rally, 19th on the 1973 RAC rally and 7th to mostly the Alpine Renaults on the 1973 Monte Carlo Rally. The Spider continued to perform with 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the 1974 8th Portuguese TAP Rally, 6th in the 1974 1000 Lakes, 4th in the 1975 Monte Carlo Rally and also with Marku Alen driving the Spider to 3rd place. By 1976 the days of 124 rallying were numbered due to the appearance of the Fiat-Abarth 131.

With almost 200,000 Spiders produced, nearly 75% of which were sold in North America, the FIAT Spider was far superior to is competitors, most notably the MGB, in nearly every catagory of performance, and particularly in handling. A very attractive car, the Sport Spider has a loyal, almost cult following, with great Club support, and numerous parts venders. The FIAT Spider has been rapidly increasing in value in recent years. A rugged and reliable car, the FIAT spider is easy to maintain, and very fun to drive!

This exceptional example has had only 3 owners from new and has always been treated with respect and garaged when not is use- that use being primarily on sunny summer days. I purchased the car from the second owner a few years back and immediately replaced the timing belt, tensioner, and water pump since the copious records from new did not indicate that work having been performed. In 1981 the spider featured power windows and leather seating, which had perished, so I had my upholstery guy do an interior that really is better than when it left the factory- with full glove soft leather and matching piping, and a new plush carpet set with piping as well. I drove the car to FFO 2014 in Chicago, and it really passed the test of Chicago traffic as I was greeted with a 2 hour delay of idling along and stopping- a real test for any car let alone an old one. The car never overheated or missed a beat. In competition in the always competitive 2 liter spider class, the car scored a win, beating out 2 of those 50k spiders those guys up in chicago are turning out. I did take a photo of the lovely top boot on one of them and had my upholsterer make me a copy to replace the wimpy embossed vinyl factory top boot.

The only real rub on the car is the paint which looks great from 10 feet but had been repainted from the now missing pin stripe down prior to my acquisition, and the hood hinge had failed so I just grabbed one off my shelf and had it painted to match, and its not a perfect match. So I guess if you want to win the class you would respray the car.

Finished in an unusual Grigio Metallic over tan color combination, this is one of the most attractive Spiders I have seen. Pampered and babied its entire life the car is in excellent running and driving condition.

Click on any image to enlarge it.