Tuesday, February 11, 2014

1981 Fiat Spider Turbo - A Rare Italian Roadster

Here's something you don't see very often; a 1981 Fiat Spider Turbo.

The Spider Turbo did not leave the Fiat factory as a turbocharged car. Fiat commissioned a Long Island based company, Legend Industries, to add the turbocharger and all its ancillaries after the car arrived in the US. The turbo added around 20 more HP to the Fiat 2.0 liter engine. It was a gain, but probably not enough of a gain to warrant the extra cost and maintenance of the turbo. Only 700 of these cars were built. Very few survive today.

(A little side note: Legend Industries was a very professional, highly regarded company. It was contracted to by DeLorean to create a twin turbo DMC-12. They built several test cars, which are the holy grail of DeLorean collectors. Ultimately, Legend Industries was still owed money by DeLorean at the time of its bankruptcy and became one of its victims.)

The turbocharged Spider has all the virtues the normally aspirated Spider. The engine loves to rev and makes great noises. The Pininfarina designed body has aged gracefully. The interior is well laid out, great looking, and comfortable. The top is very well designed and can be raised or lowered with little effort. It handles very well. Parts, except for a few exclusive to the turbo, are relatively plentiful and cheap.

It also has all of its vices. Electrical problems are common, but are very often cured by simply cleaning the ground connections. Brakes calipers stick. The cooling system needs to be in perfect condition in order to do its job. The timing belt needs to be changed every 25K miles. And, of course, there is the issue of rust.

This car is intriguing. The seller is selling it for his father-in-law and knows little about it. There are just 4 pictures in the ad, but based on those, it looks to be in very nice condition. The seller says it has been garaged kept and he has all of the car's service records.

The asking price is $8995.00, which is steep if the car needs work. However, if it runs well and looks as good in person as it does in the pictures, it may be worth it if you're looking for a rare, fun to drive Italian roadster.

Located in Clarks, NE, click here to see the Craigslist ad.

A big thanks to Vince for sending me the link to this car!


Max Power said...

Wow....I love this car. I was surprised that they sold so few of the Turbo models because I do remember Fiat advertising the Turbo pretty heavily in their print ads in the car magazines of the day. I have heard a while back that many of the survivors took off the turbos due to their scarcity of parts

Anonymous said...

Nice looking car but that is a lot of $$$ considering the high miles. You would definitely want to do a PPI first.