1976 Fiat 124 Sport Spider
Rust-free California import; completely restored to European spec with many upgrades including rebuilt fast road engine; very smart indeed
Launched at the 1966 Turin Motor Show, the Fiat 124 Spider was such a huge success that it remained in production right up until 1985. The classically Italianate bodywork was styled and manufactured by Pininfarina, while the running gear and platform was based on the Fiat 124 Coupe but with a shorter wheelbase.
Power initially came from Fiat’s lovely free-revving 1.5-litre twin cam with an aluminium cylinder head designed by ex-Ferrari engineer, Aurelio Lampredi, although by 1979 this had grown to 2-litres in capacity and gained fuel injection. Suspension was by coil springs all round with four-wheel disc brakes.
With a roomy cabin and features like an optional five-speed gearbox, intermittent wipers and a hood that could be raised in under 20 seconds, the Spider took many sales from the likes of MG and Triumph in America, where some 75% of all Spiders were sold – it was never officially available in the UK or in right-hand drive.
Dating from 1976, this particular car has the 1.8-litre carburettor engine and was imported from sunny California in January 2021 which is when our vendor acquired it. He has subsequently totally rebuilt the car and fitted many choice upgrades along the way, as detailed in his description below:
“After being UK registered the car was fully stripped and assessed. The body panels, structure and all metalwork were totally rust-free. The car was originally built with external side lights, side rubbing strips and US federal spec bumpers weighing 95kg! I decided to clean up the lines by omitting all of these and converting to European bumpers. The holes were welded up and the whole car given a professional respray in original Medium Blue (code 462). The boot and engine bay were cleaned and left original.
“The engine was the original Californian spec 1,756cc Fiat twin cam which came with emission controls, air pumps etc. which meant that it only produced around 75bhp compared to the Euro spec 118bhp. As there was no history, the engine was totally stripped and rebuilt with new main, big end and thrust bearings in a polished crankshaft. New piston rings were also fitted and the engine uprated to fast road spec with twin Impi (Weber pattern) carbs, new electric fuel pump, Piper BP270 cams, electronic ignition, refurbished cylinder head with unleaded valve seats, four-branch exhaust manifold, stainless steel sports exhaust to produce around 135bhp.
“A new water pump was fitted and all other components were checked and rebuilt where necessary. All new gaskets and belts were fitted. A new aluminium three core radiator was fitted with all new hoses and an electric cooling fan. The heater box was refurbished with a new heater matrix. The gearbox was checked and a new rear seal fitted along with a complete new clutch kit.
“The front and rear suspension was fully rebuilt with many new parts including all bushes. Spax PSX adjustable shocks were fitted all round. Front brakes were upgraded to larger vented discs with larger calipers. Rear brakes were fitted with new calipers, discs and pads. New Minilite 15” alloy wheels were fitted along with a set of new Bridgestone tyres. The electrics were fully refurbished with some new cables, connectors, new relays, earths etc. and a new battery fitted.
“The interior was fully refitted, seats recovered, new seals, carpets, seat belts, veneered dashboard, all gauges refurbished etc. A new radio with stereo speakers was fitted and an electric automatic aerial installed. The windscreen was fitted with new rubber seals. The convertible roof frame was refurbished with new seals and a new mohair hood fitted. Externally new headlight units were fitted with new LED bulbs fitted all round. New European spec bumpers have been fitted front and back and most of the chrome work was reused after polishing.
“Numerous other bits and pieces were fitted too many and small to list. New stainless bolts, nuts screws etc were used throughout the build. The car has covered less than 50 miles since the renovation and runs well. It is fast, handles brilliantly and stops just as well. It has been in storage over the winter and consequently could do with a detail valet. The carbs could also do with a professional tune-up and the cam valve clearances reset.
“The Fiat is registered as a historic vehicle and as such does not require an MOT and is free to tax. It comes with a V5C, owner’s handbook, Fiat tool kit, file of invoices, documents and photos, a flash drive with full Fiat workshop manual, wiring diagrams and other useful info. Not to mention 300+ hours of work!”
Since arriving on site the car has been starting promptly and running well although it definitely needs some fine tuning as it pops and crackles somewhat. Cosmetically it is in fine shape apart from a scratch down the o/s door and rear wing and a small dent at the top corner of the same wing which happened when the vendor’s foot slipped off the clutch pedal as he was loading it on a trailer to bring to the auction – ouch! Other than that though, this freshly rejuvenated and nicely uprated Spider looks most appealing indeed.
For more information contact James on 07970 309907 or email email@example.com
Reg No: PAO787P
Chassis Number: 124CS10108980
Engine Number: 1505301
Engine Size: 1756cc
Docs: V5C; US Certificate of Title; invoices; copy handbook; workshop manual; wiring diagrams; technical literature
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