It is hard to understand how small a vintage Fiat 500 (Cinquecento!) is unless you see one in person. They are 116.9 inches in length, which is 3 inches shorter than the wheelbase of a Stellantis Chrysler 300 sedan. Haha, Stellantis. Anyway, at 1100 lbs curb weight, the vintage Fiat 500 is a zippy little city car, but if you want something fun with an Abarth badge, this is the way to do it. Find this 1971 Fiat 500 Abarth offered for $18,900 in Miami, FL via ebay.
The Lancia Beta Zagato was a quasi-convertible version of the Beta coupe along the lines of the Baur Targa-ized BMWs from the same era. The Zagato (or Spyder) is a very affordable way to get into an Italian car designed by Pininfarina produced in limited quantity, and it was super cheap…at least until a few years ago when people figured out that it was a Lancia. LANCIA! This is the Italian marque that was founded in Turin in 1906 by Vincenzo Lancia and his buddy Claudio Fogolin. Sure, Lancia was taken over by Fiat in 1969 and it turned into a has-been “other brand” like Fiat’s version of Pontiac/Oldsmobile/Buick…but Lancia was the company that won Formula 1 races in the 1950s and Juan Manuel Fangio wont the 1956 championship with a Lancia-Ferrari racing car that pioneered the use if the engine as a stressed chassis component. Later Lancia won the 1972 World Rally Championship with a rear-drive Stratos (and later the 037) when everyone else (ahem, Audi) was running all-wheel-drive. But this car is a Beta, so it is as far from racing as you could get…but Lancia won the 1981 World Sportscar Championship (with races at Dayton, Sebring, Monza, Silverstone, Riverside, Nürburgring, LeMans, Spa, Road America, and Brands Hatch) with a heavily modified Beta Montecarlo. Bottom line…buy this 1981 Lancia Zagato Spyder offered for $11,500 in Syracuse, NY via craigslist.
Exclusivity isn’t everything, but sometimes you need a car that can hang with the fancy $50k+ crowd of ’50s Vettes, ’60s Benz SL Coupes, Big Healeys, Porsche 356, and Shelby Cobras…at least in the parking lot. This next thing might not be able to keep up with anything faster than a Beetle on the highway, but it exudes a sense of charm and stateliness of the best European sports cars from the 1960s…and it just looks like it costs a lot more than $20k. A lot more. Find this 1962 Fiat 1200 VT Spider offered for $22,000 in Deerfield Beach, FL via craigslist. Tip from Rock On!
This next car comes as a tip from Erik202 who writes: I previously owned a series 3 version spider and I think outside of Duettos these S4 cars are the best looking generation. I don’t know if these cars are ever going to be worth anything but in the meantime they must be in the running for best value going, at least when it comes to fun for the money. Find this 1991 Alfa Romeo Spider S4 offered for $4888…now $4600 in Marin, CA via alfabb.com forums and craigslist.
Fiat first used the name 124 Spider on a little convertible sports car that was built from 1966 through 1985. Styling was by Dutch descended, but Detroit born Tom Tjaarda who spent most of his career with Ghia and Pininfarina. However, in 2015 the world was re-introduced to a newborn Fiat 124 with design by Virgilio Fernandez that pays homage to the original 124, but uses Mazda MX-5 ND underpinnings. Italian styling, Japanese reliability — what could go wrong? Unfortunately for Fiat, the Mazda version (MX-5 ND) is prettier, faster, sportier, and more fun to drive (that last bit is according to one famous beefsteak wielding automotive journalist.) The only thing the Fiat 124 has as an advantage is that it depreciates faster. Find this 2017 Fiat 124 Spider offered for $16,990 in Aliso Viejo, CA via craigslist.
Happy Columbus Day to all Italian-Americans out on the web, a day where we celebrate that crazy Genoese sailor who tried to find his way to the East (he probably wanted some JDM parts before you could overnight them from Japan…) by sailing West. It is also Canadian Thanksgiving (say what!?) but we’ll save our Turkey & Poutine Cacciatore jokes for the next feature. Sorey a boot that. Anyway, this Italian machine will need to get a ride on the next Niña, Pinta, or Santa Maria to head West across the Atlantic because it is located in The Netherlands, but Find this 1995 Alfa Romeo 164 Diesel offered for $3,499 buy-it-now or make-offer located in Ried, Netherlands via eBay.
To the average guy walking down the street, the Lancia you see here is just another cool older car. He probably won’t know it is Lancia, but might guess it is European and assume it is an Alfa Romeo or some kind of Fiat. However, the Lancia 2000 was the direct descendant of the Flavia and was the last car designed by the in-house team at Lancia before they were acquired by Fiat in 1969. To say it excludes cool is like saying that a foot needs a shoe. It is as cool as you can get in a 4-door car and it features a flat-4 mated to the front wheels. If Niki Lauda approves, you should too. Find this 1971 Lancia 2000 offered for $9,100 in Santa Barbara, CA via craigslist. Tip from FuelTruck.
The Cadillac Allanté was the end result of some serious white powder surfing from the guys at GM in the 80s. It started with a Pininfarina designed body assembled by Italians in Cambiano, Italy and then shipped airfreight to Detroit where the a domestic V8 was shoved up front. I can’t imagine what it cost to airfreight 21,000 Allante bodies from Italy to the Mantramck Assembly plant in Detroit (1986-1993), but they can’t have had much profit left to spend on rehab. Today’s example needs some TLC, but what Italian car from the 90s doesn’t? Find this 1991 Cadillac Allanté offered for $1,500 in Fort Myers, FL via craigslist. Tip from Dascpcu.
There is a chance that any car featured on this website will end up as a wallet draining pile of junk…that is indeed the risk we take as buyers/sellers/drivers of used and depreciated classics. But there is no car as CERTAIN to raid your wallet as this next car, because there is no way you could even get this thing home to your garage before something goes wrong. But that is okay…because it’d be worth it. Because even somebody daily driving a 70s Saab is lightweight compared to someone who has the willingness and the audacity/cojones/guts to drive something like an 80 Maser. Find this 1980 Maserati Quattroporte offered for $9,800 in Philadelphia, PA via eBay. Tip from Rock On!
Another day, another Fiero based kit car on the cover of Daily Turismo magazine. Whoa…we’ve got a magazine? No, shut up, I’m just trying to make it seem more impressive…lemme get back to this car. Anyway, this next Fiero is no ordinary Fiero — it has a 4.9 liter V8 from a Cadillac breathing through a Jaguar (?!) exhaust and is covered in a kit body that looks 2 parts Ferrari 308 and 1 part Acura NSX. It is simultaneously like peculiar and snazzy. Find this 1987 Pontiac Fiero Fierriadillac offered for $7,900 buy-it-now in Pueblo, CO via eBay.