Random # 109: Fiat 2000 Spider
The Fiat 124 Spider is one of UMPH's favourite ever classic roadsters. To his mind, it's a better looking, more technologically advanced car than the MGB or the smaller Spridget; nothing from the Triumph stable can match its European good looks; it's prettier than the post-boat tail Alfa Spiders; it's more elegant than the Lotus Elan; the styling and mechanicals of Datsun's Fairlady are agricultural by comparison; and it has much more character than the first two series of Mazda MX5s (after which they stopped having much character at all!).
Now that all the owners of the cars listed above are thoroughly ticked off with UMPH, he'll back-pedal a bit and try to explain himself. It's not that he doesn't love, and wouldn't wish to own, each and every classic he's just dissed (he really did think his own Sprite was a hoot) - all he's saying is that he loves the Fiat more.
This particular version, photographed outside Italian specialists Fogarty Automotive in Wellington Street, North Hobart, is a 1979 model that was imported to Tasmania many years ago and converted to right-hand drive. It still features the shock-absorbing bumpers and repeater indicators on the lateral surfaces of the front and rear mudguards that mark it as an ex-US car. It's a 2 litre carburetor version, with fuel injection not being available until 1980 and, even then, it was never fitted to Australian cars.
The fact that it's a 2 litre version further confirms that it wasn't originally destined for Australia, as our Spiders were only ever fitted with 1.4, 1.6 and 1.8 litre twin-cam engines, following the same capacities that were available in the concurrent 124 coupes. Both the coupe and Spider were pretty much mechanically identical.
The 124 model designations were AC, BC and CC (A for 1st edition, coupe; B for 2nd edition coupe; and C for - you guessed it - 3rd edition coupe; and AS for 1st edition Spider, etc ... ), making this a CS (a 3rd edition Spider). Aussie version ACs and ASs were fitted with 1.4 litre engines, BCs and BSs had 1.6s and CCs and CSs 1.8s.
All the 124 coupes came standard with a five speed gearbox and four-wheel disc brakes. However, UMPH isn't sure what transmissions were available on the Spider, although a five-speeder seems the most likely candidate and it's fairly improbable that they wouldn't run discs all round, too. CCs also ran a limited slip differential but UMPH doesn't know for sure if that upgrade was available on CSs but it would be strange if it wasn't.
It would be difficult to write a piece like this on the classic 124 Spider without at least a brief reference to its brand new reincarnation (please see: http://www.fiatusa.com/spider.html). Quite simply, UMPH can't think of a better tribute to the original Spider than Fiat's masterful reinterpretation of that iconic model - even if it is based on the latest, and least characterful, MX5!
U M P H
All iPhone images.