A car with many personalities, the Fiat 124 Sport Spider was originally created in the mid-sixties as a laid-back convertible. It revealed a sporty side that prompted Fiat to enter it in rallies, before successfully launching in the United States and later returning to Europe in the 1980s to satisfy persistent market demand.
One of the longest-lived cars that Fiat has made, the 124 Sport Spider was created in 1966 at the Pininfarina workshops, the brainchild of Tom Tjaarda. Unlike its cousin the 124 Sport Coupé—which was designed by the Fiat Centro Stile and manufactured until 1975 on the same chassis as the saloon—the car conceived by the Dutch-American designer was based on the shortened 124 platform, resulting in a sinuous and compact 2+2 spider that was produced until 1985 in the Pininfarina factories.
The mechanicals of the 124 Sport, Coupé and Spider evolved in line with each new Fiat production: the twin-cam 1400 and 1600 cc engines with two double-barrel carburettors were followed by the 1800 cc, single-barrel carburettor engine of the Fiat 132. Due to its success in the United States, where it was introduced in 1968 by Fiat Motors of North America, the Spider remained in production when the Coupé was discontinued in 1975.
It was around this time that the Fiat Spider, as it was known across the Atlantic, was modified with protruding, impact-absorbing bumpers and larger side and rear light clusters to comply with U.S. safety standards. The engine displacement was also increased from 1800 cc (90 hp) to two litres to meet stringent anti-pollution regulations and the distributor and carburettors were replaced by fuel injection and electronic ignition, producing 105 hp but plenty of torque to match the car’s alfresco spirit.