Restored S.F. Bay Area Fiat Spider 124
Considerable Mechanical & Cosmetic Improvements / Upgrades!
Very Low Mileage California Car
Finished in Ferrari “FLY” Yellow, Custom Interior & Canvas Top
THIS 1971 FIAT SPIDER 2000 CONVERTIBLE
Frankly, we have a history with Fiat Spider’s that goes back more years than we care to admit. Our owner purchased an early Fiat Spider as his first car after college graduation. The car, only a few years old at the time, was already showing significant rocker panel rust and rust behind the lower quarter panels as a result of the harsh Chicago climate. He enjoyed the car despite the less than perfect Midwest weather and has owned more Fiats and Alfa’s than he can count since the 1970’s.
Unlike Fiat’s that “grew-up” in parts of the country that used salt on the road and had severe winters, this California Fiat has “lived” in Northern California for many years. The previous owner has and currently owns an extensive collection of vehicles ranging from Ferrari’s to this Fiat, and a wide range of cars in between. Due to the large number of cars in his possession he is making room for another car and has decided to let the Fiat go to a new “caregiver.” We should note that the owner has very high standards and acquired the Fiat because of the cosmetic and mechanical upgrades, earlier and more attractive chrome bumpers, and its overall drivability.
The prior owner purchased the car from a neighbor who reported the mileage as original at its current reading of 74,227. He apparently owned the Fiat for 20~ years, and completed virtually all of the upgrades. While, mechanically, the car is largely stock with the exception of improved carburetion and a few other enhancements, the cosmetic improvements are what attracted the cars previous owner to the Fiat and clearly separate it from the “average” Fiat. In fact, this is far from average not only in appearance, but in drivability, mileage, and its California lineage.
IMPROVEMENTS / UPGRADES
– Complete re-paint in striking “FLY” Ferrari Yellow including all door jambs, trunk, etc. (“Complete” repaint including door jambs, under hood, and underside of trunk lid)
– Beautiful completely re-upholstered custom interior in black with exterior color coordinating seat piping
– Custom door panels with very subtle color coordinated stitching
– Custom matching dash with stitching consistent with seats and door panels
– Quality canvas convertible top (not the inexpensive vinyl as was original to the car)
– 15” 8-spoke Panasport wheels mounted on highest quality Pirelli tires (P700) 205/50/15”
– Chrome luggage rack
During the previous few years the Spider has only accumulated fewer than a few thousand miles and has been used as an occasional, weekend car. It is important to note that the car has not remained “stored”, but used and enjoyed on a regular basis.
From a mechanical perspective, the car remains in largely stock configuration with the addition of a few minor improvements to improve performance and drivability. The car retains the 1600cc, normally aspirated engine mated to a 5-speed transmission. Added is a Weber, 2 bbl. downdraft carburetor, stainless steel manifold, and a K&N filter. The valve cover has been polished, braided radiator hoses added, function dual air horns are mounted on the fender well.
Mechanically, the Fiat has passed the California safety inspection with functional lighting systems, excellent brakes (including a working e-brake), matching high quality tires (Pirelli P700) with considerable remaining tread, and functional seat belts.
By category, the following is a summary of some of the highlights of the Fiat:
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE 1971 FIAT SPIDER 124
- Previous long term California owner
- Complete re-spray in “Racing Yellow”
- Custom interior to coordinate with exterior (Black / yellow piping)
- Black Canvas convertible top replaces the inexpensive vinyl original
- Properly working, latching and sealing convertible top mechanism
- Chrome luggage rack
- Owned as part of a collection by a local Northern California enthusiast
- Desirable 5-Speed transmission
- Clean transferable California title
- Includes original owner’s manual & other repair / parts manuals
- Straight rust free body
- Replacement and upgrades of the following cosmetic items:
- VERY high quality complete re-paint (complete including door jams, underside of hood / trunk
- Complete high quality interior including seats, dash, & door panels (Finished in high quality custom leather with stitching on beautifully crafted interior) – VERY well done and unusual on a Fiat Spider!
- Improved AM/FM radio with SD / USB ports
- Very subtlety mounted speakers in front kick panels (hardly visible but have two speakers on each side)
- Beautiful stock “wood” dash board & stock 2-spoke steering wheel and shift knob
- Beautiful upgraded 5-spoke 15″ alloy wheels
- Well maintained
BODY / TRIM / TOP SUMMARY
The body is finished in an absolutely striking shade of “Racing Yellow” with a custom color coordinated interior (black / yellow piping) and a matching cloth convertible top. The combination of colors and the quality of the interior, top, dash, door panels make for a beautiful, sporty combination and are perfect on this Spider. The upgrades to the entire interior are beautifully done and the complete repaint included door jambs, trunk area and underside of hood (and trunk) in addition to a very costly complete, custom leather interior. More on that later.
The paint is very good and reflects and excellent job when it was done. It remains high gloss, free from any signs of fading, peeling or significant damage or imperfections. The car presents as a much newer Fiat Spider but retains the desirable chrome, smaller bumpers, not the later Federal “rubber bumper” additions. The Fiat’s body is straight and free from the significant scratches & door dings generally seen on a car of this vintage with sings of only minor paint touch-up that does not detract from the appearance of the car.. In fact, any minor imperfections from the limited use that this car has received require a close inspection to be noticed. The paint is better than the large majority of cars that we see of this vintage and the Fiat attracts considerable attention and comments relative to its overall cosmetic condition.
There is no accident damage on the car and the mileage of just over 74K miles is reported by previous owners as original. However, as a vehicle that is over 10 years of age, California laws require reporting it as “Mileage Exempt.” Needless to say, while the car shows like a low mileage example, it is 47~ years old (hard to imagine, but true) so it is impossible to document the cars mileage back to day one.
The Fiat has black convertible top that shows well with only minimal fading, and a clear window. When the Fiat Spider was new it would have had a “vinyl” convertible top and most top replacements utilize the same inexpensive material when it is time for a top. However, the additional investment to add a canvas / cloth top adds considerably to the appearance of the Fiat and separates this car from most other Fiat Spiders. Also worth noting is the fact that the convertible top on the Fiat Spider can be raised and lowered with one hand, in just seconds, unlike some of the early British cars that require assembly of the tops.
In addition to the mechanical and cosmetic strength of this particular Fiat, perhaps as significant are the independent inspection results. The Spider is totally free from rust through and damage to the frame and undercarriage and shows no signs of rust in the typical rust prone areas of the Fiat, as a result of its time in California. An inspection of the rocker panels, rear lower fenders, under hood area, spare tire “well”, and undercarriage reveals a dry, clean and rust free car (please refer to the detailed photos). This is extremely important on the older Fiat’s as many of the cars in rust prone areas Regions of the country suffer from considerable rust in both the chassis and bodies. It is also the reason that many Fiat’s listed for sale on the East Coast, Midwest and other parts of the world show nice glossy photos of their cars but neglect to show detailed undercarriage photographs and close ups of these important areas.
The doors, hood, and trunk line up exceptionally well, with even gaps, and close easily and securely. The underside of the hood and trunk are very clean and free from oil, dirt and great having received “freshening” during the re-paint of the car.
The door locks operate properly as does the lock on the glove box door. The trunk lock has a working lock as does the glove compartment door.
The exterior trim on the Fiat is in good condition and includes a rear trunk mounted luggage rack. The bumpers are straight and free from damage and any signs of significant pitting reflecting the cars California lineage. Unlike later model examples of the Fiat that have Federalized rubber bumpers, the earlier cars have a much cleaner appearance of a classic Fiat. The side windows are free from cracks and damage, and operate perfectly and they roll up and down and seal well. The front windshield is free from any cracks or stars showing only the slightest sings of “windshield wiper marks” on the passenger side that, in our opinion, do not require attention. The chrome surround\d and rubber trim around the windshield is in excellent condition.
This is simply one of the nicest interiors we have seen on a Fiat Spider. While the interior was upgraded utilizing a number of lovely “non-stock” touches, the beauty is that the Fiat remains stock in appearance to all but the knowledgeable Fiat aficionado. There are no unattractive additions like gauges, or unattractive additional items. A nice USB/SD compatible radio is fitted along with front speakers are discreetly mounted in the front “kick panels” and the radio is able to be heard at highway speeds as a result.
The interior has benefited from considerable but very attractive improvements. The seats, dash, door panels and even the center console were upgraded using beautiful high quality black vinyl that has the appearance of leather with color coordinated yellow piping on the seats and subtle piping on the door panels and dahs. The treatment reminds us of the material that is used on some very expensive exotic cars. It is important to note that the stock seats and dash were used but the interior was disassembled for the custom upholstery to retain the initial impression of originality but improve the interior significantly.
The factory door panels received the benefit of the same stitched look with the stock door and window hardware being retained. The door panels are in very good condition and have subtle matching stitching that may be difficult to see in the photos. The carpet is stock and in very good original condition and has insulation to minimize any unwanted noise. A roll bar is fitted but only mounted with one bolt on either side. It could easily be removed, or permanently fastened depending on the new owner’s choice.
New style seat belts are fitted for front passengers and rear seat belts are also installed.
The shift knob, steering wheel and “wood” dash trim are stock but the leather dash has been upgraded to match the rest of the high quality interior. It is finished in rich material with stitching on the leading edges. There are no cracks on the dash or upper parts of the door panels as is often times the case with the classic Fiat Spider’s. Also, the lower dash pad (knee pad) is free from damage and cracks.
The lights, gauges, and entire electrical system are 100% functional.
The trunk cover is clean but the spare and jack is missing and will need to be located. A tire inflator is included for emergency purposes. The trunk and trunk “well” are totally free from any rust, signs of leakage, or damage (refer to photos). And are very tidy (please refer to additional photos on listing).
The Fiat runs and drives extremely well. As carbureted example with an upgraded Weber carburetor, the car starts immediately when warm or cold. The care that this car has received becomes apparent with one glance under the hood.
The engine is very strong and does not smoke, or exhibit any problems. As is typically the case with older sports cars, it does “seep” some oil. The Fiat idles smoothly at just below 1000 rpm, and does not hesitate, have any unusual noises or issues. It runs cool and has excellent power.
The transmission is excellent and all of the synchromesh gears function perfectly. There is no noise in the driveline and the clutch engages properly, and without slippage, chattering or fuss.
The Fiat steers straight and has a tight, solid feel. The brakes have also been re-done and are well within acceptable limits. The emergency brake is functional and correctly adjusted.
The undercarriage shows very well and an underside inspection makes it apparent that the car has spent considerable time in California.
The engine and engine bay are clean, unmodified and free from excessive oil, dirt and grease. We have owned / driven a large number of Fiat cars over the years, and can say with confidence, that this is an excellent running / driving car that will provide years of future enjoyment.
ABOUT THE FIAT SPIDER
In April 1966 FIAT started production of the Fiat 124 with a push-rod 1187cc engine. Working at Fiat was the legendary engine specialist Aurelio Lampredi, who, while at Ferrari, had brought about the down-fall of the mighty Fiat Romeo 158/9s in 1952 with his un-supercharged 4.5 liter Ferraris. When Vittorio Jano joined Ferrari with the disbanded Lancia team in 1955, Lampredi moved to Fiat. After designing the 1300, 1500 and 2300 engines, he drew up the classical twin cam engine designs for the Ferrari Dino V6, and 124 Spider.
Prototypes of the 124 Spider were tested in April 1966 and the first car was shown at the Turin Show in November 1966. Initial cars were powered with 1438cc engines, later enlarged to 1608cc, and 1756cc.
The Spider had a close affiliation with Pininfarina, as that styling house was responsible for design and also the building, painting and trimming of the actual bodies on the Fiat 124 cars. Fiat decided to target the USA as the main market, and had very good success with the Fiat as a comfortable, fun to drive, open air, sports car.
The Fiats were very nicely equipped sports cars and included the following standard equipment on the 1971 models:
- 1.6 Liter Twin Overhead Cam Engine
- 5-Speed, Fully Synchronized Transmission
- Fully Independent Suspension
- Front Anti Sway Bar
- Power Assisted 4-Wheel Disc Brakes
- Steel Belted Radial Tires
- “One Hand” Convertible Top Operation
- Front Bucket Seats
- Adjustable Head Rests
- Electronic Tachometer
- Water Temperature, Oil Pressure & Voltmeter Gauges
- Padded 3-Spoke Sport Steering Wheel
- 2 Speed Electronic Washer/Wipers
- Dual Power Side View Mirrors
- Vent Windows
- Day/Night Rear View Mirror
- Tinted Glass