It’s time to take a look at a car that was one of the quintessential Italian standards in the world of rallying in the early ’70s. Contemporary of the Lancia Fulvia, and predecessor of the Stratos and the 131, this Abarth 124 Spider was one more link in that chain of successes and glory for the Italian automobile industry. We start with a video to set us up properly:
It must be said that in production, the street model remained for a remarkable time, from 1966 to the mid-’80s. Not bad at all from a business point of view. It means that a product this durable on the market had something to offer the enthusiastic driver.
I am going to use, among other references, in addition to wikipedia, an entry that I have found to be an absolute delight available on the website of the FCA corporation , https://www.fcaheritage.com/en-uk/heritage/stories/fiat-124-sport-spider.
This vehicle, designed by Tom Tjaarda (it will sound familiar to you from a previous article on the blog, he was responsible for the design of the De Tomaso Pantera), became an absolute classic due to its elegance and clean lines. Based on the Fiat 124 platform, but shortened in the wheelbase, it immediately demonstrated its excellent qualities in terms of dynamic behavior, which did not go unnoticed by those responsible for the brand.
Initially, the interest in this rally car came from a good number of private drivers, who found in its excellent behavior a perfect ally for the assault on victory in any rally. And it cannot be overlooked that we are talking about a time when the Porsche 911, the Lancia Fulvia HF, or the Alpine A110 are already competing, among others. The bar was already very high at that time.
In this way, and after some timid beginnings with the help of Abarth, Fiat decides the official assault on the European Rally Championship, which it would achieve in two seasons: 1972 and 1975. It should be noted that in 1972, victory in the European Championship coincided with victory in the World Rally Championship by Lancia and its Fulvia 1.6 HF, which gives an idea of the Italian power at that time.
Its engine, a healthy twin-cam multivalve 4-cylinder engine , developed 215 hp at 7,000 rpm, not insignificant figures for the time. This performance, together with its low weight, provided the ideal recipe to compete at the highest level.
In its debut in the World Championship, at the 1973 Monte Carlo Rally, and already homologated as Group 4, although it did not win, it finished ahead of the 1972 title-winning car, the Lancia Fulvia. From now on, the car would gradually evolve and achieve victories in the world rally championship, mainly thanks to the duo Markku Alen-Ikka Kivimaki, while as I mentioned before, in 1975 the second European title would come, from the hand of the Verini-Rossetti duo.
The last official appearance of the Fiat 124 Abarth Spider came in Montecaro 1976, with Markku Alen at the controls, and with the well-known blue-yellow livery.
That rally was won overwhelmingly by the Lancia Stratos, while Alen finished in sixth position. This year would mean for the Spider, the return to its origins, losing the status of official car in favor of another future myth, the Abarth 131.
In this way, the Spider was once again used mainly by private pilots, in the same way as in its beginnings. The last Abarth Spider gr.4 left the factory in 1975, with a total of 995 units.
Regarding the slot version, in this case the SCX version pays tribute to the original. The proportions, shapes and attention to certain details are noteworthy. Among other things, I particularly like how the alloy wheels were reproduced, which are part of the iconic image of this Spider.
Regarding its behaviour on track, it is a slot car that with certain adjustments is rewarding, and in slot club rallies it can excel in competent hands. I share with you two web resources where improvements and small readjustments are indicated with which this nice car can become a giant killer.
To start, this video of «Back to the SCX»
And on the other hand, this website (waskalas) whose instructions I have personally tried to follow step by step. I have to admit that the improvement was immediate. However, my limitations as a slot racer can’t convert the car’s potential in great results in my club, but this is only attributable to my (poor) ability against the clock.
Let’s now delight ourselves with some of the versions that SCX made available to us, and that are still available on the second-hand market.
At the end of the article, I leave a series of links of interest and videos available on youtube about the
Dear reader, I hope this reading has been interesting. See you in the next article!