The introduction of the Fiat 124 was one of the most spectacular unveilings of all time. A 124 was dropped from a plane! In its first year it was awarded the European Car of the Year award and was praised for its disc brakes, lightweight body, spacious interior, and advanced coil spring rear suspension. Under the hood was a 1.2 liter engine that produced a modest 65 horsepower. Though not a performance machine it did gain respectable reviews from Road & Track.
The 124 saloon was soon followed by the Sport Spider and Coupe variants. A luxurious and stretched version was introduced in 1967 and went by the name of 125.
Production of the 124 continued until 1974 when it was replaced by the 131.
The Fiat 124 Sport Spider was a 2+2 convertible that was introduced at the 1966 Turin Auto Show and was produced from 1966 to 1980. It was designed and manufactured by carrozzeria Pininfaria. From 1979 to 1982, the car was marketed and sold as the 2000 Spider. Pininfarina marketed the car from 1983 to the end of its production in 1985 as the Pininfarina spider Azzura.
The convertible body was designed by Tom Tjaarda, who drew inspiration from his earlier designs of the Chevrolet Corvette 'Rondine' and Ferrari 275 GTS.
In 1975, the car was modified to comply with new United States regulations. At that time, no European version was produced. Sales in Europe resumed when Pininfarina took over production in 1983 under the name Pininfarina Europa Spider.
The Fiat Sports Spider, Fiat 124 Coupe, and the 124 Sedan shared much of their running gear. The Sports Spider rested on a shorter platform and a shorter wheelbase. The engine in the Spider and Coupe was a double overhead cam, aluminum crossflow head version of the sedan's pushrod engine. In 1966, it had a capacity of 1438cc which would progressively increase to 1608cc in 1970. It was reduced in 1973 to 1592cc only to increase to 1995cc in 1979.
Several years later, in 1981, on the 50th anniversary of Pininfarina, this fact was further emphasized by producing a Fiat Spider 2000 Pininfaria 50th (Golden) Anniversary Edition.
By Daniel Vaughan | Oct 2013
Not many vehicles have reached such public aclaim as the Italian produced Fiat 124 did as it made its grand entrance whilst being dropped by parachute from a plane.
An act difficult to top, this amazing stunt may have been enough to ensure that this mid-sized sedan would achieve European's Car of the Year award for 1966. But it was the Fiat's advanced coil spring rear suspension, disc brakes, lightweight construction and spacious interior that achieved this award.
The Fiat 124 replaced the Fiat 1300 and the Fiat 1500 in the 1966 model year.
An adapted version of the 124, the Lada BA3-2101/Zhiguli (later Lada Riva), which looked almost identical to the 124, was created by the AutoVAZ car factory located in the Soviet Union.
Fiat sponsored the building of the AutoVAZ factory in 1970. Unfortunately, as the the vehicles produced tended to be manufactured poorly due to their outdated technology and basic equipment levels, this has reflected badly on Fiat's 124 line.
The Lada version continued until 1984, but production of the Fiat 124 was discontinued in 1974. Most people compare the 124 to the Lada, therefore making it seem to be an unreliable vehicle despite its technological advancements. Very few 124 sedans have survived today.
Producing 65hp (49 kW) and 70 ft.lbf (95 Nm) from the Fiat OHV straight-4 1.2 L (1197 cc) engine, the Fiat 124s small engine was esteemed by Road and Track for its accelerating performance.
Introduced in November of 1966 at the Turin Auto Show, the Fiat Spider was originally sold in the US as a regular model in 1968. The basic 124 saloon spawned the Sport Spider and 124 Coupe, which were both much sought after 1970s classic cars.
Introduced in 1967, the 125 was a more luxurious and stretched version of the 124 sedan.
Production on the 124 model line continued until 1985 when the line was dropped after over 150,000 spiders alone had been built.
Both the Spider and the Coupe were derived from the 124 Sedan, a pushrod engine four door that sold around the world. The 124 sedan/wagon was finally replaced in 1975 by the much more serious and stately Fiat 131 Mirafiori for the marketing in North American. In 1976, the sport Coupe was also dropped. The 131 shared the engine of the 124 series, but the balance of the drive-train was unique and not interchangeable.
124 Spiders were unique in their styling design. Thy lacked bumper up-rights, came with clear front turn signal lenses and headlamps, and the heater controls were located underneath the dash in a horizontal fashion rather than inside the center console.
When the 124 Spider arrived in the US market in 1968 some confusion arose over the interior placement. The center console eventually grew in length, and had held the heater controls in it. The drive-shaft was encased inside an outer tube much like older American cars, though the design was dropped in favor of common subsequent axle with trailing arms. The torque tube design was thought by some to have been superior.
Generally, 1968 vehicles didn't come standard with head rests on top of the seats. The rocker panel moldings attached to the face of the panels did not make this convenient as they didn't sit on the top edge as all subsequent models. The accelerator pedal and washer pump was also mounted to the floor.
In India, the Fiat 124 was introduced by Premier Automobile in 1986 as the Premier 118NE. Closely similar in design and body to the 1966 version despite a few cosmetic changes to front and rear, the Premier incorporated the Nissan A12 power-train rather than the original Fiat engine. Achieving amazing response at first, the Premier eventually was considered outdated by other more modern vehicles and production ended around 1999.
The Seat 124 was a Spanish version of the 124 together with SEAT from 1968 to 1976. Sold in both 4-door and station wagon versions, this vehicle was very successful in Spain.By Jessica Donaldson