We could see the writing on the wall for more than a year, but Fiat has finally confirmed our depressing suspicions: the Fiat 124 Spider is officially dead. It already left the European market at the end of 2019, and 2020 will be its final model year in North America. Poor Fiata — it had only been on sale since 2017.
The news was buried in a press release about the 2021 Fiat 500X, of all things. Alongside the 124, the Fiat 500L — a vehicle I unscientifically consider the tallest and narrowest passenger car in existence today — is also being put out to pasture.
The end of the 124 Spider, though predictable, is upsetting to anyone who cherishes what few small and affordable enthusiast cars are left anymore, especially west of the Atlantic. Of course the Miata on which it’s based will remain a dependable source for cheap thrills, but there was always something special about the prospect of an inexpensive, Italian rear-wheel drive convertible. The fact the Abarth version had more power than the Miata (well, until the Miata got a sizable power bump last year) also helped its case.
Now, with both the 124 and 500L gone, and the regular 500 having already departed in 2019, the last surviving Fiat in North America is the 500X. Elsewhere in the world, you can order a Fiat 500 like you order your eggs. There are hardtop and convertible models, hybrid and all-electric versions and even one with an extra door. Meanwhile, in the U.S., you can have whatever Fiat 500 you want, so long as it’s a Jeep Renegade.
Fiat’s painted itself into a corner on this side of the pond, not terribly unlike Chrysler, which has only the 300 and Pacifica to its name. It’s hard to see where the brand goes from here, especially because its CEO has already gone on record and all but shot down the likelihood of a 124 successor. I don’t know — maybe give the Panda a shot?