Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) has resurrected the name Fiat 124 Spider for the sports car it spun off the new Mazda MX-5 architecture in a joint development with the Japanese carmaker.
The 124 Spider (above) was a soft-top built in the 1960s and ’70s. FCA recently trademarked in the United States the names ‘Fiat 124’ and ‘Fiat 14 Spider’, and company CEO Sergio Marchionne told reporters at the Geneva motor show that the future roadster would carry the classic name. Fiat brand head Olivier François later confirmed to international media the 124 Spider name.
The new Fiat will break cover in Europe next year under an agreement put in place with Mazda during the joint development phase: it allowed for the MX-5 in 2015 and the 124 Spider in 2016. The new MX-5 will be in New Zealand this year.
FCA hasn’t officially said the 124 Spider shares its platform with the MX-5 because the original plan a few years ago was for it to underpin an Alfa Romeo roadster. But Marchionne didn’t want an Alfa Romeo built outside of Italy.
Reports then that FCA had scrapped the Alfa Romeo roadster project were misleading. Alfa Romeo itself hinted in its ‘rebirth’ plan last year that it would build a two-door soft-top of its own, although it didn’t go into detail apart from saying the car would be built in Italy.
Talk at the Geneva show was that the design of the 124 Spider will be a modern interpretation of the original 124 Sport Spider, penned in the 1960s by acclaimed Italian styling house Pininfarina. A go-faster Fiat Abarth version is also likely.
The weight of the 124 Spider car will be around 1000kg. The standard engine is expected to be a warmer version of Fiat’s 1.4-litre MultiAir turbo, generating around 120kW/245Nm. The Abarth-badged car will get the same unit but tuned to deliver around 150kW. It will also get suspension, brakes and styling enhancements.
The last Fiat two-seater roadster was the Barchetta, in the 1990s. It was based on the chassis of the first-generation front-drive Punto and used a 95kW 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine good for a 0-100km/h time of nine seconds and a top speed around 200km/h. It was engineered only for left-hand drive.
The original Fiat 124 was a sedan built between 1966 and 1974. The Russian Lada was based on it. The 124 coupe appeared in 1967 and continued in production for the global market until 1975. The 124 Spider was built between 1966 and 1980. Engines in all three body styles ranged from 1.4 to 2.0 litres.