Maverick74's new motor

As the title says, I have once again bought another car. A couple of years ago I bought a brand new Kia Forte GT manual to serve as my daily driver.

It was a fine enough car, but I always felt it was a bit too big for my tastes. I imagine most of my fellow Americans would think calling a compact sedan “too big” to be a silly thought, but it’s kind of true. It wasn’t all that smaller compared to say an early 2000’s W body Impala, and that was considered a fullsize. While it had several nice features and a nice engine, it just wasn’t quite what I wanted in a car. So I decided to get rid of it for something smaller and a bit more characteristic. So this is what I replaced it with.

It’s a 2018 Fiat 124 Spider Lusso. After seeing one of the Launch Editions at a race years ago, I’ve kind of fell in love with the looks. And after the 300 mile trip bringing it back home, I can say I’m in love. Despite it’s size, it manages to have better forward visibility and more headroom than the Kia did. The interior layout is pretty much perfect. The controls for everything seem to be placed exactly were I’d like them to be. The clutch is taking a little getting used to, it’s a bit heavier than I’m used to, but shifter is brilliant.
The car wasn’t terribly happy doing 80mph down the interstate, but it’s right at home doing 60 on two lane roads, which is were most of my driving takes place anyways. And it rides super well too, cars with short wheelbases tend to suffer in that regard.
Sure, there do seem to be a few small issues with it. The driver’s seat and the lettering around the volume control seem to be showing more wear than one would expect from a car of this mileage. But given the number of trashed clunkers I’ve owned, that’s something I’m not too bothered by. The other thing is it’s a smidge too quiet. The engine makes a nice note when you start it up or when you really give it the beans. But it’s not quite as sonorous as I’d like it. So I’m thinking an aftermarket exhaust may be in order. :wink:


Nice ride. They were some collab with Mazda, based on the Miata, right?


It was. However, the Abarth 124 Spider is even sportier still; that said, an actual ND MX-5 (especially the post-2018 2.0 version) is still a better driver’s car, although the 124 in general was, for a time, the next best thing.

I test drove Miatas as well, since they’re a little more common (the local Chevy dealership also sells Mazdas) and I would say the difference between the two is minute. Maybe if your really pushing it or at a track day there’s a bigger difference, but for ordinary driving they seemed basically the same. And since I prefer the looks of the Fiat, it’s what I decided to go with.

Spent a couple of hours giving the Fiata a full detailling to get a good idea of any blemishes and chips in the paint, only to open the garage door to find that it was snowing! Life in Minnesota I guess. :sweat_smile:

While I do plan on driving this during winter, I’d prefer to not do so with summer tires. So it looks like I’ll be relying on my little Mazda for a bit longer.


“As reliable as coming third in a challenge hosted by Knugcab”… :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:

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So, a month’s ownership with the Fiat has come to be. And I can say, it has a few idiocricricies. Second gear tends to be a bit cranky when it’s cold out (I’m thinking this is a Mazda thing, since the 2 has similar issues), the radio is rather slow to load up my Ipod (though it does at least remember my settings, the Kia never did that), it revs higher on the highway in sixth gear than the Mazda in fifth, and the doors lock themselves every time you move a couple feet away (a really annoying thing when all you’re doing is filling it up with fuel or checking the oil).

But you know, all of that is forgiven when you get it out on the road. Gosh, I had forgotten how much I love owning a convertible. Being able to just throw the top back and let the sun and wind in after a tough day is better than any antidepressant. I owned an old MGB years ago, and this thing has the same effect. I had also forgotten the joy of a rear drive car, being able to rotate it around gravel or snow covered roads with the throttle. I’ve already put on something like 1200 miles so far. :sweat_smile:

That being said, it has become a little of a money sink. Though not necessarily due to any faults in itself. It started as just a basic service, some spark plugs and oil and filter. The dealership claimed to have done this prior to my ownership, but I figured better safe than sorry. And it turns out this is actually rather easy to work on by modern car standards. Though the engine is rather basic, still be a SOHC unit with an iron block. So I decided to buy a service manual for it.
…and here it is.

Apparently printing them in books is considered obsolete. By far the most expensive CD I’ve ever paid for. Pretty sure all the paper manuals I’ve owned combined cost less. And because I haven’t used the disc player on a computer in ten years, I didn’t order my current pc with one. So I’ll need to spend more money just to read this. Hooray for technology, I guess? :sweat_smile:
While I was at it, I also picked up this:

The factory muffler was way too quiet. So it’s been replaced with an axle back setup from Auto Ricambi. Now it sounds like a proper Italian sports car rather than a Buick. Around town it has a nice growl and a burble off throttle. And giving it the beans is pretty raunchy, with the occasional snarl and pop between shifts. :grin:
I’m certainly looking forward for summer.