For something based on the universally acclaimed Mazda MX-5, the Fiat 124 does still struggle on occasion to garner a positive reception. Too laggy for some, too ugly for others, it hasn't quite hit the mark with enthusiasts. Arguably, of course, that was never the point; the MX-5 is there for B-road blasting, the 124 suited more to a relaxed gait, a situation in which it's actually rather likeable.
Let's not forget, either, that that was the exact remit of the original 124 Spider. The often overlooked 124 Coupe was more dynamically talented, but that's no surprise given that the convertible, launched in 1966, traded structural rigidity for a Pininfarina-penned open-top design; it was such a successful look, in fact, that many from both sides of the Atlantic lusted after the 124 during its 16 years in production. It was - and to some people still is - one of the prettiest sports cars to come out of Italy.
You could say the 124 Spider represented the best of Fiat, as it was an attractive, sweet-handling rear-drive convertible that was affordable and provided reasonable running costs. Much of the latter was down to the car's use of fairly low capacity four-cylinder engines, which grew through several updates from a carb-fed 1.4 with the original car to a fuel injected 2.0 twin-cam in 1979, which could be equipped with a turbocharger as an option.
For some enthusiasts, much of the 124's appeal came from the spawning of an Abarth competition version, which went on to rally across the globe with great success. The Fiat Abarth 124 Rally, as it was called, used a 128hp version of the 1.8 twin cam motor and it earned its stripes with titles including the European Rally Championship. In reflection of that, today's 124 has also spawned a competition version, which is R-GT eligible.
The original 124's success owed much to strong demand in the US, where, despite the eventual addition of ghastly plastic bumpers as per regulations, the model was light years ahead of the sluggish, big capacity products produced domestically when oil prices were sky high. Across its 16 years on sale, close to 175,000 examples of the 124 were sold globally.
As a 1982 car, today's Spotted is an example right from the end of the model's life, which makes it quite rare, and it comes with the best engine offered with the 124 - the 105hp fuel-injected 2.0-litre. The car has just returned from the US, where a specialist extensively restored it for £26,621. Yet bizarrely, this spotless Fiat Blue car - which is just 47,000 miles old - is on sale for £25,950. Go figure.
Not an insignificant amount by any stretch - reflecting the value rise all classics have enjoyed recently - but the 124 must surely offer all the Italian style, zest and brio that most could want. And yes, that is three for your 'Italian car cliche' bingo card. Plus, let's be honest, there's no danger of a passer-by bringing up the MX-5 with this one, either...
SPECIFICATIONS - FIAT 124 SPIDER
Engine: 1,995cc, four-cyl
Transmission: 5-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Torque(lb ft): 110@N/Arpm
First registered: 1982
Recorded mileage: 47,217
Price new: N/A
Yours for: £25,950
See the original advert here.