The Alfa Romeo Spider had a number of updates over its thirty year production run but the basic formula stayed the same over that time (1966-1994). The late series 3 spiders are not one of the more desirable versions with their rubber bumpers, porky curb weight, and smog-throttled engines, but this next example looks cool in black-on-black-on-black. Find this 1987 Alfa Romeo Spider offered for $4,400 in Miami, FL via craigslist. Tip from FuelTruck.
Is a late model Dodge Dart the perfect car? Not likely. It was launched (with supposed Italian DNA) as a replacement for the hideous Caliber in 2013 and was canceled by the end of 2016…hardly the fate for the perfect car. Since then Dodge has been out of the economy car game, and here is the funny part…I didn’t even know that the Dart had been canceled. This means one of two things — either, I live in a cave, or the Dart was so forgettable that zzzzzz…hey, wake up, this thing has a turbo and a manual gearbox. Can you even hear me with all the cave noises (bats and dripping water) in the background? Find this 2013 Dodge Dart Rallye offered for $5,300 in San Jose, CA via craigslist.
In an earlier post today, I wrote; Anybody who tells you that you need to spend a bunch of money to drive a nice classic car is full of it. But some of you felt that the N600 is just a bit too pedestrian, too slow, and not going to be fun, fast, or exciting to drive. Okay. I know what you want. You want something, a little more…Italian, but for the same low price. Ok, I’ve got something in mind. Find this 1973 Fiat 850 Sport Spider offered for $6990 in Orange County, CA via craigslist.
This next car is expensive. Mighty expensive. More than a reasonable person should spend on a car…but, it isn’t that much more than the average person spends on a new car. Yup, the average new car price just crossed $40k for the first time last year. Which is insane. But you know what’s not insane — is owning a piece of Italian history for a few more bucks. Because gated shifter equipped Ferraris without turbochargers and electronic motors are a thing of beauty and, regrettably, a thing of the past. The best part is that you can own uno Ferrari for less than the price of a modified MkIV Supra Turbo, and that ain’t bad. Find this 1997 Ferrari F355 Spider offered for $64,980 buy-it-now or make-offer in Beaumont, TX via eBay.
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.