As a general exercise, Fiat’s new 124 Spider is at its core a retro effort. The original 124 Spider first went on sale in the late 1960s and enjoyed a relatively successful production run that lasted well over a decade. The new 124 Spider apes many of the old car’s styling cues, wrapping the Italianate look around the fourth-generation Mazda Mx-5 Miata’s basic structure, albeit with a turbocharged Fiat engine under the hood. So it should come as no surprise that, when it came time to design a higher-performance 124 Abarth, Fiat once again mined its history for inspiration.
This time, Fiat’s retro-ray homed in on the Abarth 124 Rally, a special model built from 1972 to 1975 by Fiat’s Abarth tuning arm to satisfy rally-racing homologation rules. Abarth built roadgoing Stradale versions for sale in Fiat dealerships, as well as more seriously prepped full-blown rally versions; the 2017 124 Spider Abarth you see here appears to be modeled after the tamer Stradale cars. Like the ’72 model, the new 124 Spider Abarth is lighter than its regular-production counterpart, wears an “anti-glare” matte-black hood and trunklid, and packs slightly more power, albeit without a face full of auxiliary driving lights, a raised ride height, and gravel-slinging intentions. If that’s more your bag, you’ll be excited to learn of the remastered Abarth 124 rally racingthat debuted alongside the Abarth Spider at the Geneva auto show.