Fiat’s 124 Spider was introduced at last year’s LA Auto Show, but the story of the Italian roadster started five decades ago at the 1966 Turin Motor Show.
Building upon the Fiat 124 Sedan, the rear-wheel drive roadster adopted the 124 Spider moniker with Pininfarina handling the design
Power came from a 1.5-liter inline four with a double barrel vertical carburetor, mated to a five-speed gearbox, producing 90 horsepower. In this configuration, the car could reach a top speed of 170 km/h (106 mph).
In 1969, the 124 Spider it was revamped gaining among other things, some mild exterior revisions, including the bonnet, rear light clusters and alloy rims.More importantly, though, the small Italian sports car received a new 1.6-liter engine, with dual overhead camshaft, and two double barrel vertical carburetors, delivering 110 HP, which allowed it to reach a top speed of 180 km/h (112 mph).
Fiat renewed the 124 range again in 1972, with minor tweaks inside and the presentation of 1.6- and 1.8-liter engines, sourced from the Fiat 132. Both of them came with dual overhead camshaft and a double barrel Weber or Solex carburetor, with the former rated at 108 HP and the latter at 118 HP, allowing the Spider to go up to 180 km/h (112 mph) and 185 km/h (115 mph) respectively.
In 1978, it received a 2-liter engine with 87 HP and in 1981, Pininfarina unveiled a new model, the Spider Europa, at the Geneva Motor Show. The latter had a 2.0-liter, twin-shaft, four-cylinder mill, with 105 HP, but the last development came in 1983, with the 136 HP Volumex with volumetric turbocharger, designed mainly for the US market.
Three decades after the 124 Spider was retired, Fiat gave birth to its successor, wearing the same moniker, but unlike the original model that was an in-house creation, the new roadster shares its underpinnings with the new Mazda MX-5.