Why the Fiat 124 Spider is better than the Mazda MX-5


Reclaiming the horizon in the Fiat 124 Spider

Why the Fiat 124 Spider is better than the Mazda MX-5-Fiat Spider Pininfarina greatest success

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Why the Fiat 124 Spider is better than the Mazda MX-5-mazda

Although it is no longer being built there, it fits perfectly into the northern Italian lake landscape: the Fiat 124 Spider above Lake Maggiore


The new Fiat 124 Spider hugs the curves as if it were in love. During a trip through Ticino, the pretty roadster becomes a time machine into its past for our author.

D.A friendly Ticino man explains to me that a power dome has nothing to do with the church. The new Fiat 124 Spider just happens to park in front of the Madonna del Sasso, a place of pilgrimage above Locarno above Lake Maggiore.

For a few days now people have been noticeably nice. They will stay that way for a while, the whole time I am out and about in the new Fiat 124 Spider. This is how it should be for people with cute dogs.

On the ferry over to Bellagio on Lake Como a nice elderly gentleman comes with gold jewelry perfectly matched to his chest hair, examines the shiny red roadster and asks: "How much?"

Yes, not that much, really ridiculously little, and that with the family tree. Something around 28,000 euros costs the snuffy rocket in the luxury version; leather upholstery, which you logically need, is already included.

You definitely cannot live without a leather steering wheel, not in a car that is really only worth getting into if you want to feel things: the leather, the road, the wind, the past. As for the latter, everyone has their own. Mine has a lot to do with this area, Ticino and the northern Italian lakes. The little spider is the time machine.

Why the Fiat 124 Spider is better than the Mazda MX-5-mx-5

No idea about cars, but he likes the Fiat 124 Spider – somehow: culture editor Jan Kuveler


I know as much about cars as I do about dogs, but when they’re nice I like both of them. Then I’m ready to read a little bit. Fifty years ago, in the spring of 1966, the Turin company came out with the original Spider, which was not that expensive even then, but still damn pretty.

He was apostrophized as the “Ferrari of the little man”, a bit weak on the chest, but all the more gallant. I could swear that in Fellini’s “La dolce vita” Marcello Mastroianni whizzes through Roman nights in it, but the film is from 1960.

So the truth is a higher one: the simple shapes, the arrogance matured into modesty, the snout that could belong to a trusting shark, and the perky tail have become the emblem of a time rapidly disappearing in the rearview mirror.

The roar of its engine sounds like the last boom of traditional European elegance before hippy and punk ushered in an aesthetic change. In the re-edition of the classic, the present and the past work hand in hand.

Ticino people drive Fiat – breakneck

In between, in the late eighties and early nineties, I often traveled to Ticino with my family. My father watched the sun on the mountain above the Madonna del Sasso. Unfortunately out of dark rooms, because he is an astronomer.

There is a terrible irony in the job: You come to the most beautiful places in the world, where the weather is always good, just to sit down at a computer in a basement-like room. The only good thing about these childhood computers was that they had so many brightly colored cables sticking out of them. Today it should look different.

Although – not so much, I notice that on a little jaunt up to Orselina-Monti, three times on the gas on Via Patocchi and then the three hairpin bends and the rickety bridge to the whitewashed ensemble of guest villa and observatory, the Istituto Ricerche Solari Locarno.

Michele, director of the institute and an old friend of the family, is unfortunately on the road. He, too, drives a Fiat, as far as I can remember, and, like all Ticino residents, at breakneck speed. He has a balanced mind, but no sooner is he behind the wheel than he plunges himself down some secret street on a steep flight and hoots the horn for milliseconds before racing around one of the many bends.

Why the Fiat 124 Spider is better than the Mazda MX-5-better

Car in front of the lake: Nice view of Lake Maggiore


I never found out why, because it is way too fast to prevent a collision with a possibly oncoming vehicle. The computers up here, I notice when I look in vain for him, still have a lot of cables. They have just become grayer, like so many things that were more colorfully remembered.

It seemed imperative to bring the Spider up. A car with a fabric roof that can be thrown down with a single movement for better observation of the sun. Compared to the astronomer, driving a convertible is a more pleasant job.

Protuberances on our central star may have their charms; they fade in the face of a climb up the steep serpentines into one of the many valleys – the Valle Verzasca, the Centovalli or the breathtaking Onsernone, at the end of which the bad-tempered Max Frisch lived in the shade and borrowed supplies from the "wife of the solar physicist", as can be read in his diaries. It wasn’t my father, but the astronomer Karl-Otto Kiepenheuer, who had a little house there.

On the way to Intragna, where the most beautiful bathing spots in the world are hidden under the completely free-floating steel bridge of the Centovalli Railway, the Spider sticks close to the road, hugs the curves as if it were in love. If you warn him to hurry with a gentle kick, his rear, in which the 140 hp drive sits, hops in small jumps, but these always remain under control.

200 is a very relaxed drive in the Fiat

Overtaking on the mountain is also a pleasure, as long as it doesn’t have to happen too quickly. A coach is dragging three cowards behind it. A bit of clear view, down one gear of the entertaining six-speed gearbox, and a look through the windshield reports that the horizon has been reclaimed.

Do you have to mention that the main fun is not driving fast? I drove the 600 kilometers from Frankfurt to Lake Maggiore quickly behind me, with the roof closed because it kept raining.

It was okay, safe, quiet, at 160 km / h the car shook a little, from 170 km / h everything was fine again. 200 is a relaxed ride. In Goschenen I wanted to drive over the Gotthard Pass from time to time. But the fog and raindrops were already so thick on the rising highway that it was no use.

I also drive past Amsteg and the small restaurant “Zur Post”, shedding a tear in memory of the great St. Bernard who kept me company year after year during the stops of my childhood, she and the blueberry pie. At some point she was no longer there. It has recently been back, like the Spider, only its name is different now, the Spider is still called the same.

Why the Fiat 124 Spider is better than the Mazda MX-5-fiat

Nostalgic machine completely contemporary: on the streets of remembrance in the Fiat 124 Spider


The postmodern revenant of the original 124 Spider, this completely contemporary nostalgia machine, is made by Mazda in Hiroshima, Japan. Chassis etc. are based on the MX-5, the roadster for anyone who thinks front-wheel drive is a personal insult. Fiat ships its engine and receives the finished machine in Turin. But the essentials are not Japanese, but Italian – the design.

It may be that opinions will differ about this. After all, the MX-5 was voted “World Car of the Year” a few months ago. I found that incomprehensible in Frankfurt, where I picked up the Fiat. And only on the south side of the Gotthard, where the light is known to be different, just the same in which the Turin designers drew and, as is well known, their colleagues Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci used to draw.

The best way to see the differences is in a direct comparison. A Mazda MX-5 is parked on the edge of the Piazza Grande in Locarno, not far from the big screen on which Maria Schrader’s Stefan Zweig impressions “Before the Dawn” compete for the Golden Leopard of the film festival in the evening. I park next to it, get myself a coffee, sit down on a hydrant and compare.

Why the Fiat 124 Spider is better than the Mazda MX-5-fiat

Looks like a pit bull on a diet, our author thinks: the Mazda MX 5 (left) in direct comparison with the Fiat

Source: pa (2)

The differences in design are subtle on the one hand and cannot be overlooked on the other. The middle sections are most similar, at least in the upper line. Under the door, it seems like the Fiat designers cut off an inch and a half. The bottom line is clearer than the Japanese. At the rear, the rear, which can be easily hung on the Mazda, sticks out confidently.

The front sections in particular shape the character of the two cars. The Mazda looks aggressively, like a pit bull on a diet. The whole car seems to duck to jump through the downright falling hood.

Even at a standstill, it is as if it were racing, so that the time in front is compressed. In that regard, it’s like family gatherings where you just can’t believe those two are supposed to be brothers there; Of all those present, they obviously have the least in common.

The relaxed grandeur of the Spider reveals the whole, sorry, meanness of the Mazda. And that doesn’t mean that where the MX-5 tries to bite, the Spider behaves like a trusting pinscher. Instead, he exudes calm self-confidence, independence. He fails to flex his muscles, but does not hide the fact that he has them.

Why the Fiat 124 Spider is better than the Mazda MX-5-better

Like an athlete who strolls to dinner after training: the casual Spider on the serpentine


For understandable reasons, cars are built horizontally. Nevertheless, the Spider’s posture can best be called erect; his silhouette is that of an athlete strolling to dinner after a workout.

You don’t need a lot of imagination to see the MX-5 fit in fantastically with Tokyo racing utopias, in which reality becomes a dance of lines, the highways and the skyscrapers, as in the epoch-making manga "Akira". The Fiat, on the other hand, cuts a perfect figure on the pebble rubble, which has been naturally formed through eons, of the driveway to a northern Italian villa on the shores of Lake Como.

The decision is a matter of belief, depending on which style denomination you prefer. Oh yes, and Power Domes, the friendly Ticino person explained to me, are those little knobs on the bonnet. With the Fiat, they have no more sense than to remind you of the original. Which of course is perfectly fine.

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