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Displaying all 2 1981 FIAT 124 Spider reviews.

1981 FIAT 124 SpiderReview

'81 Fiat Spider 2000 Turbo —

Overview: These little cars were never very powerful, but with the exception of the truly exotic cars, handling capabilities were far superior to most other sports cars of their time. When the EPA began to require emission controls, in the late 70's, the horsepower was further reduced and sales dropped off sharply. Fiat began to consider pulling out of the US. In an attempt to try to save the Fiat brand in the US, the importer, Fiat USA, Inc., worked with Legend Industries to install turbo chargers on several late '81 and early '82 cars, after they reached the United States. Boost was limited to only 6 psi to avoid damaging the engine, which was not designed to be used with a turbo. Even at a modest 6 psi, the turbo really awakened the little two liter four cylinder engine. Even with the extra power, sales were not good and eventually Fiat stopped importing to the US at the end of 1982. Pininfarina, the coach builder, was also having financial difficulty at the time. When Fiat told Pininfarina to stop building the Spider bodies it came as very bad news indeed. Pininfarina made a deal with Fiat to purchase mechanicals from them, and continued to build Spider bodies. The “new” car was called the “Pininfarina Spider” and was sold in the US from 1983 to 1985. So, instead of Fiat buying bodies from Pininfarina, Pininfarina began buying everything else from Fiat. Same car, different brand. Rarity: Only approximately 700 Spider 2000 Turbo models were made. These turbo models proved to be somewhat unreliable, and many of these cars were “de-trubo-ed”, leaving them as normal “Fuel Injected” cars. With the turbo failures, and the normal number of mechanical failures and accidents associated with a car nearly three decades old, there are very few of these still running and in their original mechanical condition. Handling: Truly amazing. Four wheel drifts are easy and balanced. It tends to push just a little, unless you are accelerating. Easy to carry a lot of speed through turns. Acceleration: Pretty good... by 1981 standards. It's not a Ferrari, but with the turbo it easily outruns “stock” spiders. By 2009 standards, it really doesn't accelerate all that well. I wouldn't stand a chance against most teenagers in Honda Civics, and I have been roasted by at least one V6 Ford mini van. Let me get that van on a twisty mountain road and “Soccer Mom” won't even see my tail lights for long. ;) Restoration: The car was in pretty good shape when I got it, but like most cars this age, it has some needs. I have already replaced the top, which was really bad. I haven't spent spent much on the car yet, and I hope to keep the cost to a minimum. What it needs; Transmission: 4th gear is shot and 3rd is going. I have a replacement trans that needs to be installed, and I have all new clutch parts. Brakes: Needs a new left front caliper. The original caliper sticks if the car sits for more than a week. Engine: Has an oil leak that I haven't been able to find. The leak is buried under a bunch of stuff I will need to disassemble to find the drip. I hope it isn't the turbo... $$$ Everything else is good. :) Interior: Needs to have the new seat covers properly installed, some lose leather re-attached, and the shifter boot replaced. It already has new carpets and mats. Paint & Body: Has some surface rust and needs paint, but all the original trim and information stickers are in place, including the information stickers from Legend Industries about the turbo.

Primary Use: Sport/fun (spirited driving, track racing, off-roading, etc.)

Pros: Handling

Cons: Transmissions are easily damaged.

12 of 12 people found this review helpful.
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1981 FIAT 124 SpiderReview
Cargo Capacity:
Fuel Economy:
Front Seats:
Maintenance Cost:

Great Weekend Car. — Fun to drive on nice sunny days. Great for daily road trips. Anyone lucky enough to have one of these little gems would tell you that it is a pleasure to own and can be driven daily in all types of traffic.

Primary Use: Commuting to work

Pros: Car runs good and is stylish.

Cons: Small, low to the ground and hard to see in bad weather.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful.
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Displaying all 2 1981 FIAT 124 Spider reviews.

Reviews From Other Years

1982 FIAT 124 Spider Reviews

Suzanne, I Think. By benspaul

The Fiat Spider 2000/124 Spider was one of the top three most successful sports cars ever made. (MGB being another, then maybe the Corvette.) Comfortable and roomy seats, a smooth shifting 5sp, a Blac... Read More

1980 FIAT 124 Spider Reviews

Peppy Stylish Fiat By Symbolis

FIAT got some things right with this car. And contrary to popular opinion a well maintained FIAT once sorted is not a headache to take car of. This car is peppy and has some zip, not to mention classi... Read More

A Classic By Raoul

The first convertible I purchased after relocating to California. Was on my wish list for a long time as an affordable way to drive a gorgeous car designed by Pininfarina. Rather roomy for a two seate... Read More

1979 FIAT 124 Spider Reviews

Gorgeous Zippy Little Sports Car. By lily

I love everything about this car but I live in the mountains and we get snow. So the lack of four wheel drive is something that I can't afford to have. I adore driving around and every time you stop a... Read More

Great For A Car Show! By migration_ggangala

What I liked about this car is, its easy to work on and the part are not hard to find, nor are they expensive. It's not that I didn't like the care, but I don't have the time to work on it. Its been s... Read More

1978 FIAT 124 Spider Reviews

All Italian, All The Time By Frank

The 124 Spider is a beautiful, nicely appointed sports car with wonderful Italian flair, decent performance, a terrific exhaust note and better reliability than Fiat gets credit for Read More

Owned It Since 1977 And It Has Been A Fun, Reliable Car. By philly

I am looking for a professional to help me restore a 1978 124 spider in the NC/SC area. Read More

1976 FIAT 124 Spider Reviews

Beautiful Head-turning Italian Design, Fun To Drive By Mike

While my '67 Mini Minor provided the most visceral thrill on 4 wheels, the Fiat is probably my all-'round favorite car. From it's gorgeous design (why hasn't Fiat revived this one and done a modern ... Read More

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