There I sat in a 2017 Fiat 124 Spider Classica on the highway in a lane between two 18-wheelers during evening rush hour traffic. Eerie. Claustrophobic. Amazing. It has been more than 30 years since this iconic two-door coupe was sold in North America, and more than 50 years since it was introduced in Italy at the Turin Auto Show.
FCA reports nearly 8,000 Fiat 124 Spiders are still registered in the U.S., making my appearance in it in Denver a rare sighting for car enthusiasts and a beautiful distraction at the very least for everybody else. With a six-speed manual transmission, it was exciting to drive too.
The modern Italian roadster comes standard with a1.4-liter MultiAir Turbo four-cylinder engine. It’s the engine’s first application in a rear-wheel-drive vehicle, and delivers 160 horsepower and 184 lb.-ft. of torque. It is not the fastest coupe on the road, but numerous awards have recognized it as the most affordable turbo-powered convertible in America.
The dimensions are 159.6 inches long by 48.5 inches high by 68.5 inches wide. As small as it is, this is not the car to drive if you’re trying to hide.
The exterior’s stylish curves and classic lines are brilliant in the Grigio Argento Aluminum exterior color complemented with a black manual soft top. Other exterior features include a dual-tip exhaust, black roll bar finish, and body-color header, side sills and door handles. It comes standard with 16-inch alloy wheels, Nero (black) premium cloth seats, halogen headlamps and LED tail lamps. Inside, soft-touch materials on the instrument panel are highlighted with light silver accents.
You will not be required to read anything that talks about how to get out of a hammock. But the low-slung seating, which is extremely comfortable, will take some getting used to when it comes to entering and exiting. Remember, it’s all part of the Spider experience.
Let’s talk about space. You’re not truly embracing the Spider experience if you’re surprised that the center console is nonexistent outside of the shifter and the parking break, which requires the old-fashion arm strength to work. There are makeshift cup holders that I didn’t choose to use because I didn’t think they could handle any weight. I placed them in the glove compartment located in the back, effectively between the shoulders of the driver and passenger.
The Classica features technology that is expected in most new cars, including keyless entry, Bluetooth connectivity, as well as a multi-information display that surprisingly knows what you want to do while driving, but won’t let you. When the vehicle is moving, nobody can change the radio station. Not me. Not my passenger. All eyes on the road. Other safety and security features include adaptive front headlamps, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross path detection and a rear backup camera.
The coupe also features a double-wishbone front suspension and rear multi-link suspension with stabilizer bars, balanced weight distribution and tuned electric-power steering. In short, it is easy to drive in most settings from neighborhood roads to winding highways. In addition to the Classica trim level, the higher-end trims include the Lusso as well as the Abarth, for the sportier ride.
Storage wise, the trunk may fit a large backpack. So at the end of the day, there’s just enough room for you and me to throw all of our cares away and go somewhere. Anywhere.
Baggage free. Drama free.
2017 Fiat 124 Spider Classica MSRP: $24,995; Combined City/Highway MPG: 30.