Fiat 124 (1966 – 1974) Review

Fiat 124 (1966 – 1974) At A Glance


+Solid, great to drive and well-engineered

-People will think it's a Lada 1200

The Fiat 124 was a well-engineered, cleanly-designed saloon that was practical, useful and good to drive. With disc brakes all round, pin-sharp rack-and-pinion steering and a rear axle well located on coil springs it had a good specification that outpointed rivals such as the Ford Escort Mk1.

Of course, the Fiat 124 suffered from the usual Fiat rust problems, but mostly by growing up to become the basis of the long-running and - until recently - much-derided Lada range. Revvy overhead-valve engines are even impressive in base 1200 form, but the Special T is the one to have. Sold in the UK from 1971, the Special T was powered by a 1438cc twin-cam engine, upgraded to 1600cc from 1973. It was - and is - as good to drive, despite the way it might look.

Ask Honest John

Would the DVSA require a new catalytic converter to import my 1985 Pininfarina Spider from Spain?

"I have recently bought a 1985 Pininfarina Spider Europa (Fiat 124). It is in good condition but I am currently refurbishing neglected areas. The catalytic converter has been removed by a previous owner and the adjusted exhaust system occasionally fouls on the rear suspension and makes a knocking noise. The car is in Spain and satisfies pollution regulations here because of its age. I might import the car to UK in a few years time. There are two options: reinstate the cat or adjust the existing system. Would the DVSA require a cat and would it reduce performance? Should I restore it anyway to original spec?"
Despite a US-spec Pininfarina Spider being fitted from new with a cat, this won't be required in the UK. No 1985 car will fail an MoT for not having a cat in place. Unless you're fastidious about originality, we'd be tempted not to reinstate the cat, as the car is likely to run better and be marginally better-performing without one. Our temptation would be to focus on a cat-free exhaust system, either adapting the one you have (maybe fitting a new rear section to prevent it fouling on the suspension) or investing in an all-new system. Talk to Middle Barton Garage ( and DTR European Sports Cars ( regarding new exhausts.
Answered by Keith Moody
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