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Brief History of the Fiat Spider

Fiat 124 Sport Spider

Manufacturer: Fiat 1966-1982

Pininfarina: 1983-1985

Also called: Pininfarina Spider (1983-1985)

Production: 1966-1985

Assembly: Turin, Italy

San Giorgio Canavese, Italy (Pininfarina)

Body style: 2-door cabriolet

Layout: FR layout

Engine:

1,438 cc (1.4 L) I4

1,592 cc (1.6 L) I4

1,608 cc (1.6 L) I4

1,756 cc (1.8 L) I4

1,995 cc (2.0 L) I4

1,995 cc (2.0 L) Turbocharged I4

1,995 cc (2.0 L) Supercharged I4

Transmission:

4-speed manual

                5-speed manual

                3-speed automatic

Wheelbase: 89.75 in (2,280 mm)

Length: 156.25 in (3,969 mm)

Width: 63.5 in (1,613 mm)

Height: 49.25 in (1,251 mm)

Related: Fiat 124

Designer(s)

Tom Tjaarda Designer, Franco Martinengo Design Director, Battista Pininfarina, Pininfarina

The 124 Sport Spider is a 2+2 convertible sports car marketed by Fiat from 1966 to 1980 – having debuted at the November 1966 Turin Auto Show. Designed and manufactured by Italian Carrozzeria Pininfarina, Fiat and Pininfarina continued to market the monocoque-bodied car as the 2000 Spider from 1979 to 1982. Pininfarina itself assumed the car's marketing from 1983 to the end of its production in 1985 – as the Pininfarina Spider Azzura.

The body of the car was designed and marketed by Pininfarina. The convertible body was designed by Tom Tjaarda, who used his earlier designs of Chevrolet Corvette “Rondine” and Ferrari 275 GTS. Several years later, in 1981, on the 50th anniversary of Pininfarina, this fact was further emphasized by producing a Fiat Spider 2000 Pininfarina 50th (Golden) Anniversary Edition. In 1972, a sports version of the Spider was revealed. This was required for a type-approval of its rally version, which earned some remarkable success. The models sold in showrooms were marked as 124 CSA (C-Spider-Abarth). The vehicle had a capacity of 128 hp. In three years, Fiat manufactured less than 1,000 CSA models, which were intended for sale to individual clients. Apart from the Fiat Spider 2000 Pininfarina 50th (Golden) Anniversary Edition, this is one of the versions most eagerly sought by collectors.

The car was sold in Europe and the U.S. from its introduction until the 1975 model year when it was modified to comply with new U.S. regulations and no European version was produced. Sales in Europe resumed when Pininfarina took over production in 1983 under the name Pininfarina Europa Spider.

The Sports Spider and the Fiat 124 Coupé shared the numeric portions of their name with the 124 sedan along with much of their running gear – and, in the case of the Coupé, a shared platform. The Sports Spider utilized a shorter platform along with a shorter wheelbase, and in contrast to the Pinifarina styled and manufactured Spider, Fiat designed and manufactured the Coupé in-house.

Engines

The four-cylinder engine used in the Spider and Coupé was a double overhead cam, aluminum crossflow head version of the sedan's pushrod unit. It started in 1966 with a capacity of 1438 cc progressively increasing to 1608 cc in 1970 (although this reduced to 1,592 cc in 1973), 1,756 cc in 1974 and finally 1,995 cc in 1979. Designed by Dan Vano. Bosch fuel injection replaced the previously used Weber carburetors midway through 1980. In 1981 and 1982, Fiat USA, Inc. partnered with Legend Industries to create approximately 700 turbo models for US markets. There was also a supercharged model called Volumex offered toward the end of production, which was sold only in Europe, where it cost 35% more than a regular, fuel-injected Spidereuropa. This family of engines was designed by ex-Ferrari chief engineer Aurelio Lampredi and in one form or another remained in production into the 1990s giving it one of the longest production runs in history. The double overhead cam (DOHC) version was the first mass manufactured DOHC to utilize reinforced rubber timing belts, an innovation that would come into nearly universal use in the decades after its introduction. Its family powered race cars such as: FIAT 131 Mirafiori, Special T, Lancia Beta Montecarlo, Delta Integrale and many others.

1400 (1,438 cc) - 90 PS (66 kW; 89 hp)

1600 (1,592 cc) - 106 PS (78 kW; 105 hp)

1600 (1,608 cc) - 110 PS (81 kW; 108 hp)

1800 (1,756 cc) - 118 PS (87 kW; 116 hp)

2000 (1,995 cc) - 78 PS (57 kW; 77 hp)

2000i (1,995 cc) - 105 PS (77 kW; 104 hp), 102 hp (76 kW; 103 PS) for North America and Japan

1,995 cc - 120 bhp (89 kW; 122 PS), turbocharged for USA

VX (1,995 cc) - 135 PS (99 kW; 133 hp), supercharged

Suspension

Suspension was conventional by unequal length wishbones and coil over damper at the front and by coil sprung live rear axle at the rear which was located by a transverse link (Panhard rod) and two pairs of forward extending radius rods to react braking and acceleration and to control axle wind-up.

Specification

The Coupe and Spider were first sold in the US market in 1968. In 1969, the Spider featured four-wheel disc-brakes, double overhead cams, hesitation wipers, steering-column mounted lighting-controls, radial ply tires and a five-speed manual transmission. An optional three-speed automatic transmission from General Motors was available from 1979 through 1985 for North America as well as Japan. Its convertible top could be raised and locked in under a minute. When the engine was upgraded to two litres, the model was renamed as the Fiat 2000 Spider.

Fiat subsequently stopped marketing the Spider and the X1/9 — to have their marketing assumed by their respective carozzeria. In Europe, the Ritmo Cabrio was also marketed by Bertone rather than Fiat themselves. In the USA, Fiat turned over marketing and support of the Spider and the X1/9 to International Automobile Importers, Inc., headed by Malcolm Bricklin.

An early special version was the 124 Spider Abarth which featured an independent rear axle, hardtop, different seats, interior etc. and only came in 3 colors.

Rallying

In 1971 the 124 Spider was prepared for the World Rally Championship when Abarth became involved with its production and development. Abarth designer Ing. Colucci was responsible for getting the 124 Spider into Group 4 rally trim. Over this period the Abarth Spider had relative success with wins at the 1972 Hessen Rally, Acropolis Rally, 1973 Polish Rally, 19th on the 1973 RAC rally and 7th to mostly the Alpine Renaults on the 1973 Monte Carlo Rally. The Spider continued to perform with 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the 1974 8th Portuguese TAP Rally, 6th in the 1974 1000 Lakes, 4th in the 1975 Monte Carlo Rally and also with Marku Alen driving the Spider to 3rd place. By 1976 the days of 124 rallying were numbered due to the appearance of the Fiat-Abarth 131.

Production

The model line ceased in 1985 after almost 200,000 Spiders alone had been built, of which 75% were for the US market. There were nine models of the Spider, the AS, BS, BS1, CS, CSA (Abarth), CS1, CS2, CS0, and DS.

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