The 2017 Fiat 124 Spider is not the most beautiful car in the world. It is not the most powerful or perfect. But to hate it is a misdeed, as I can explain.
This new 124 Spider very much echoes the original 124 Sport Spider in its place in the market and the world.
Back in the ‘70s, did the Fiat stand out above the other cars on the market? Was it more powerful or more reliable or more desirable than its rivals from Italy, Germany, Britain, or particularly Japan? Not really! A smart buyer did the sensible thing, got a Datsun 240Z, and enjoyed significantly more horsepower and significantly less maintenance than a 124 Spider buyer.
But only a fool would begrudge anyone driving a little drop top Fiat. Sure, it wasn’t the best car available, but it didn’t have to be! The roof folded away, the wind blew in your hair, and the engine buzzed away happily around you. You might have only had (an optimistic) 86 horsepower under foot for most of the Malaise Era, but that wasn’t important. The Fiat wasn’t a car that you needed to compare to its rivals in the way that you might have cross-shopped a Honda to an Oldsmobile.
You compared the little convertible to all the other bigger, heavier cars and trucks and wagons of the world.
And the same is true of the 2017 Fiat Spider.
This might not be the most originally styled vehicle there is, not the most groundbreaking or practical or whatever you might want. But it’s a Miata in a silly suit with a silly brappy 160 horsepower engine taken from the 500 Abarth.
It’s a happy addition to the car market as a whole. To hate it is to wish the car market had one less convertible, to hate is to wish the world had a little bit less joy.
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