Fiat owners made the convertible 124 Spider one of the most successful and beloved cars the Italian automaker has ever exported to the United States.
After nearly three decades, Fiat announced Wednesday that it is bringing the iconic sports car back to the United States.
The new Fiat 124 Spider is a two-seat convertible that is true to the heritage of the iconic roadster, but updated for the modern consumer.
Using the original 124 Spider as a guide, engineers and designers in Italy and in the United States went to work to create the new convertible.
“(The original Spider) was the rear-wheel-drive roadster,” Bob Broderdorf, director of Fiat Brand North America, said of the Spider, which sold more than 170,000 convertibles from the late 1960s through the early 1980s. “It was affordable and offered performance features (that were) brought down to the mainstream and drove a lot of enthusiasm.”
Those tasked with creating the new Spider channeled the Italian spirit of the car and were inspired by the Italian phrases “for the art of travel” and “for enjoying the moment.”
“It’s not enough to call it a Spider … slap a 124 badge on it and call it a day,” Broderdorf said of the trans-continental effort to design the car that was unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show today.
The new generation Spider convertible comes in two trim levels and features a horizontal line that emerges from the front fender, kicks up over the rear fender and flows toward the rear headlamp, which is an interpretation of the original 124.
Looking at the car from the front, designers incorporated a human look with a “little smile” through the shape of the lower grille and LED front headlamps.
These features channel Fiat’s “playful” side, which doesn’t make the 124 Spider “a full technological car,” said design manager Felix Kilbertus.
The lightweight, rear-wheel 124 Spider has a 1.4-liter MultiAir Turbo four-cylinder engine that delivers 160 horsepower and 184 lb.-ft. of torque.
It also offers twin exhaust pipes that provide a distinct sound, sport pedals and tailored seats with Italian design touches, such as a leather-wrapped steering wheel, dashboard and gear shift.
“This car is all about the touch, the happiness, the fun experience of driving this car,” Kilbertus said.
Prior to its debut, the Spider was tested all over the world in all possible weather, road and driving conditions.
“This car can really cover the needs of 100 percent of the customer in any driving condition,” said Enrico Genchi, an Italian-based Fiat engineer who worked on the Spider.
It has been five years since Fiat announced that it was returning to the U.S. market during a press conference in Los Angeles. Since the return of the brand with the 500, Fiat has diversified its lineup with the 500X crossover, the spacious 500L, the 500c, which offers a retractable roof, and the sporty Abarth.
These vehicles are helping drive the brand and are attracting a younger demographic who are seeking a fun ride. Sixty percent of the Fiat buyers are Millennials and Gen Xers, and one out of five purchase a Fiat because it is “fun to drive.”
For those considering the 124 Spider, Fiat is offering a limited-edition Prima Edizione Lusso.
The first 124 vehicles will be individually numbered with a commemorative badge and available in exclusive Azzurro Italia (Blue) exterior paint with premium leather seats.
The 2017 Fiat 124 Spider will be available in the summer of 2016.
If you missed the reveal live, you can watch it on-demand on FCA’s YouTube page.