Number nine on the Sports & Exotic Car roadster list is the Fiat 124 spider. As with its Alfa cousin (brother-from-another-designer?), this Pininfarina/Tjaarda designed car is an underappreciated classic. While there are tangible differences between the Fiat and Alfa (Alfa uses a fancy cast aluminum hood release, for example), on a higher level these are both competent, comfortable roadsters with excellent, raspy twincam fours and five speed transmissions, as well as easy-to-use tops. You can find this 1979 Fiat Spider 2000 (which, by its chassis code, is actually a 132) in Amherst, NH for $4000.
This burgundy color suits the car really well – dark enough to be understated and elegant, yet it brings out the car’s curves and fender line in the way it reflects the light. While the Panasports are better suited for British cars, being as they are a knockoff of Minilites, they do work pretty well here. The top looks like it needs a little cleaning, but Fiat gets first place for convertible top design – while it’s a little harder to lower than the Alfa Spider’s, they optimized outward visibility by adding those little rear quarter windows.
Unfortunately the owner has not provided the most informative shots of the car. However, in this tail shot you can see the trunk seems misaligned on the lower right corner – hopefully that’s just the way the light is reflecting. It’s said to be a rust-free California car, and to have various performance parts. Hopefully some of those are in the engine, because the 1979 cars just missed the upgrade to fuel injection and have a meager 78hp (versus 103hp in the FI cars).
The wood steering wheel and dash definitely make for that classic sports car look, but you have to wonder, did Fiat do that because British sports cars were so popular in the US? That said, in 1979 the only British sports car you could get with a wood dash was the Triumph Spitfire, which was even longer in the tooth than the Fiat. Overall, though, this looks like a decent deal and is worth a look if you needn’t worry about emissions testing!