As a little boy, my brothers and I (yes, the Wright brothers) got tiny plastic cars for Christmas one year with the make of car embossed over the back window. They were about the size of a spool of thread, and we thought one of them was a “FLAT”. The word Fiat, stamped on the toy, was foreign to us little guys and besides, no such cars were to be seen near Fullerton, Nebraska. We learned much later that we had been playing with a Fiat 500 replica.
Italian automaker Fiat built automobiles in New York prior to World War II, and at the start of the conflict production in this country ceased. They re-appeared in the U.S. in the 1950’s and sourced the backronym “Fix It Again, Tony” as a reference to rust and reliability problems. In fact, I bought a 1968 Fiat roadster that was riddled with rust and after a trip to the bodyshop, drove it for several years during my Air Force assignment in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
I enjoyed the little red Fiat and had a dream of trading for the bigger 124 Spider, but marriage terminated my sports car ownership days and I replaced the Fiat with a Datsun sedan.
I was thrilled in 2014 when I heard that Fiat was going to resurrect the venerable 124 Spider, and as it turned out they built it on Mazda’s MX-5 Miata platform in a joint venture project. A 2017 model was loaned to me for a week recently and I was able to give it a rather thorough analysis.
It had an M.S.R.P. of $27,285.00, and that price included a technology package with a 7″ display, XM radio, backup camera, and proximity keyless entry. Drivetrain is a 1.4 liter, 160 horsepower turbo-4 and transmission is a pleasing 6-speed manual. The vehicle is rear-wheel drive, handles like a dream and the top is a snap to put up and down (manually). This 124 is a big step forward for Fiat Chrysler.