Since its launch in 1966, the two-seat Fiat Spider has been a popular choice among American car buyers. The 1979 model debuted the Italian automaker's revised line and an official name change from the originally titled 124 Spider to the 2000 Spider.
In 1966, Italian designer Pininfarina and car manufacturer Fiat launched the 124 Spider at the Turin Auto Show. Through 1975, the Spider was sold throughout Europe and North America whereafter the two-seat convertible was exported exclusively to U.S. markets. In 1979, the 124 Spider officially changed its name to the 2000 Spider and again in 1982 to the Pininfarina Spider Azzura when coach-builders Pininfarina assumed sole marketing rights to the line. Pininfarina manufactured the Spider car through 1985.
The 1979 Fiat Spider model or 200 Spider debuted a much-improved 1995 cc engine, designed to suit American driving tastes. Older model Spiders contained a double overhead cam and an engine capacity of 1438 cc's in the inaugural model and 1756 cc in the 1974 version. The newly designed engine in the 2000 Spider allowed for a maximum speed of 102 mph and a performance of 0 to 60 mph in less than 11 seconds.
The 1979 Fiat Spider convertible or 2000 Spider contained the line's standard five-speed manual transmission. The 1979 model was the first such model to include a 3-speed, automatic transmission option. Brakes were dual circuit. The tires on the 1979 model measured 5.5 by 14 inches. The vehicles measured 13.58 feet long, 5.29 feet wide and 49.2 inches high. The car weighed approximately 2,363 pounds. The 2000 Spider's fuel tank held 13.5 gallons and traveled 22 miles per gallon of gas.
Since debuting the line in 1966, Fiat (and later Pininfarina) produced an estimated 200,000 Spider cars that encompassed nine different versions. The 1979 model was assembled at Fiat's plant in Turin, Italy. Three-quarters of all Spider cars were exported to the U.S.
The 1979 Fiat Spider convertible is prone to rusting, most notably inside the front fenders and on the floor pan. Door hinges are also prone to cracking. The driver's seat frame in the 1979 model also typically breaks, particularly if the car is operated by a heavy driver. The suspension on a 200 Spider is also known to crack, especially if the car has been driven forcefully, which can also negatively affect the front chassis and might even cause it to bend. The electric fuel pump on a 1979 Spider is also notoriously unreliable.
- Photo Credit retro car, wheel image by strokine from Fotolia.com
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