Boano-Designed: 1969 Fiat 124 Sport Coupe

These were quite popular on the roads back in the 1970s and 1980s, to the point that I remember seeing them as a child, and yet today they’ve virtually disappeared from the roads. Why these, with about 280,000 built, would survive less than their spider equivalents is not too clear. You might suspect that a coupe lends itself better to being an all season car, and would therefore die sooner, but other cars such as Alfa GTVs, BMW 2002s, and Datsun 510s (all period competitors) have much better survival rates. And yet, this is an appealing competitor, with an attractive design, nice tall greenhouse, and a very competitive drivetrain setup.

Anyway, let’s move on to our subject – a 1969 coupe, which makes this an AC-style car. These were the earliest style of 124 coupe, with the hood dipping low between the headlights at the end of each fender. Many consider this to be the most attractive, with the later BC and CC coupes becoming less and less appealing. Additionally, the earlier cars are lighter, and should be reasonably quick even with the less-powerful 90hp 1438cc engine. This particular car is listed in Hacienda Heights, CA for the low, low price of $500!

1969 Fiat 124 Coupe front

Here you can see where this car shares a hint of similarity with the Ferrari 250 GT Lusso. Okay, you have to squint really hard, but it’s there. If you’re not happy with that, let’s say it looks like the 124 spider nose. French blue is an attractive color, and correct for the period. Notice the straight shutlines on the hood, and while there’s some damage to the bumper, it appears pretty minor. It’s not clear what’s going on between the bumper and the grill, but it doesn’t appear to have induced any rust.

1969 Fiat 124 coupe left side

As you can see, the car’s got a couple of ripples in the body from years of being a regular car. That said, it really does look quite clean, with little to no visible perforation all the way down to the sills. Thank you, SoCal! The shutlines are not entirely perfect – you can see unevenness both at the rear of the door and in the trunk lid, but with a car of this age that should not be a total deterrent.

1969 Fiat 124 Coupe rear

Whatever you do, when/if you’re replacing the right rear taillight, don’t ask for Lamborghini Espada lights, even though this car shares with the early Espada! Looks like there’s a minor dent under that light, and the trunk lid isn’t entirely straight. However, there’s nothing out of line here for a car that served as a driver for 20-30ish years. For those of you that get all hot & bothered by this, looks like we have an original California black plate on the car – unfortunately it’s hard to see whether the last sticker expired in 1985 or 1995.

1969 Fiat 124 Coupe interior

For its age, the interior is actually looking pretty good. The nice thing about fixing up a cheaper car is that vinyl seats are less expensive to reupholster. It’s pretty unlikely, but the other seats might survive with just a cleaning. Everything else is intact, and the dash is not as sun-baked as one would expect for a southern California car. Cracks in the wheel would probably get annoying, so this is a good excuse to replace with a cool period wheel or just something out of another 124.

1969 Fiat 124 Coupe engine

Finally, the likely reason why the car was laid up. Seller says the car was running several years ago, but the engine needs an overhaul. It’s definitely worth a try to get it running, but if not, you have several options in terms of 1608, 1592, or 1756 engines you could harvest from a parts Spider, or you could even grab a 2000, possibly with FI. Thanks to the high survival rate of the spiders, mechanical bits should not be hard to get. If this were in the San Francisco area, this would be a very tempting prospect.

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