At the debut of the 2017 Fiat 124 Spider, very non-Italian boss man Olivier François announced that the heart of the car is built in Italy. Wait, what?

The 124 Spider will be assembled in Japan, right by its platform-sharing Mazda Miata.

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How, then, does the made-in-Italy engine make its way into the made-in-Japan car? Do they ship the engine from Italy to Japan? Do they stick it on a plane? Do they build the car with no engine in Japan, then the engine is installed at the point of sale?

This is the question I posed to M. François, sticking my head into a cluster of reporters scrambling around the man on stage.

The car is produced in Japan. The engine is made in Italy. How does that work?

Olivier paused, thought, and answered:

It does.

All the other reporters laughed, then moved on to further questions about chassis tuning or whatnot.

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Several hours later, I returned to the car, once all of the journo scrum had receded. I asked the product specialist if, indeed, the engine is made in Italy. Yes, she replied. They are all made in Termoli, east of Rome. I asked if the car is, indeed, completed in Japan. Yes, she replied. Final assembly is in Hiroshima.

As to how the engines make their way from Italy all the long way to Japan, the lady did not know the specifics of the shipping procedures.

Whether or not this involves a ship, a plane, or just one very busy Italian man driving the engines one-by-one in the back of a Piaggio Ape across the Silk Road, I do not know.

I then asked a PR person if I could go take pictures of the engine. They politely informed me that no pictures of the engine were allowed, and that the hood latches had been disabled to ensure as much.

As you can see, that did not exactly stop me.

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Check out how the turbo is mounted right under the hood, so that there needs to be heat shielding mounted on the inside of the hood.

And dig the MOPAR stamp right next to it. MOPAR OR NO CAR, AM I RIGHT?

So there you have it. The Fiat 124 Spider production process spans two continents to work. Sounds efficient.


Contact the author at raphael@jalopnik.com.