Blink and you’d have missed them. The Fiat 124 Spider and its sister car, the more powerful Abarth, were on sale for just two years, from 2016-18. Fiat gave no explanation for their abrupt demise other than to say they were no longer on sale.
Pundits reckoned its failure to get the Multiair engines through the tough new WLTP tests was the reason. Whatever the truth, their departure was a sad loss for sports car enthusiasts who were now denied a capable and distinctive alternative to the brilliant but ubiquitous Mazda MX-5 Mk4 on which they were based (they even share interiors).
That’s enthusiasts wedded to buying new, by the way. The good news is there’s a decent number of used Fiat and Abarth 124s on the used car market at prices ranging from around £11,000 to £22,000. We’ve already covered the Mazda in this section (24 April 2019) and we’ll resist the temptation to refer to it again here, save to say that it’s useful to compare its prices with the 124’s.
For example, as this was written, £11,800 would bag you an approved used 2017-reg MX-5 1.5 SE with 15,000 miles but, for the same money, there’s a younger, approved used 2018-reg Fiat 124 Spider 1.4 Multiair Classica with slightly less mileage. So, based on this snapshot, the 124 looks a better buy, except there are many more MX-5s for sale at a wider range of prices.
Anyway, we said we wouldn’t dwell on the MX-5. The 124 is powered by a 1.4 Multiair engine producing 138bhp; the Abarth the same engine but making 168bhp. It’s the sportier of the two with stiffer suspension, stiffer anti-roll bars, a limited-slip diff, stronger brakes and a ‘racing anti-glare kit’ (a matt paint finish on the bonnet, to you and me). It comes in automatic Sequenziale Sportivo or manual guises. You might think the manual would have been the more popular version, but on the used market availability is split 50:50. The auto’s appeal probably lies in its steering wheel-mounted paddles and provision of a Sport mode. Price-wise, the auto costs about £1500 more with a 2017/17-reg on 12,000 miles coming in at around £18,400. Meanwhile, the manual is available in standard and what, at the time, Fiat described as more elegant Scorpione trim. Prices start at £16,400 for a 2017/67-reg Scorpione with 14,000 miles.