Thursday, June 2, 2011

Don't Believe The Hype: 1964 Fiat 1500 Spider

Don't let the title fool you. We are big fans of these Pininfarina designed early Fiats. But for some reason, values on these cars seem to be all over the board. As near as we can ascertain, some of it goes back to a single episode of Wayne Carini's car-dealer reality TV show Chasing Classic Cars- where Wayne speculates and hits a big home run on a 1957 Fiat 1200TV Roadster.

But while mechanically similar, the 1200TV is a much rarer and more unusual car than these Pininfarina spiders. A bit of Apples v.s. Oranges. So the much lauded auction results that Wayne achieved do not translate as a market comparable for the army of hopeful Fiat owners searching for a benchmark value.

This car is a typical example of a seller fishing for an offer and not really knowing what to ask. What makes this car desirable is the interesting color combination and the factory removable hardtop. We love factory hardtops on old Italian cars; like everything from Italy they were designed to be beautiful and not accessories or afterthoughts. Do not confuse these with the more common aftermarket fiberglass tops which were manufactured without much thought for aesthetics. Having the factory hardtop is akin to having two cars for the price of one.

Reading between the lines in this ad, we would press the owner for a real honest assessment of the rust on this car. Minnesota weather is typically not kind to Italian metal, but in the age of the Internet this car could have spent the majority of its life anywhere.

 Having driven one of the best 1500s in the country, we can tell you: prepare to be underwhelmed. The single cam makes a pleasant-but-not-potent burble and the early car's four-speed transmissions can be tedious. The 124 Twin Cam Series make much more rewarding drivers, but the delicate and classy lines of the 1500 are more evocative of the heyday of Italian design.

$2000-3000 seems a closer estimate for this old Fiat, and at that price it might be considered for just the hardtop and any usable parts.

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