Fiesty, Flirty, Fun – My Italian Geisha

Her name is Belle – my 50th anniversary 124 Spider by Abarth.

To spend my time listing specifications, drive reviews, etc only repeats what every other ‘English-speaking auto critic’ has already done, so I won’t. I will point out one major misconception perpetuated by these reviewers – you see they review this car and tell you why it is (or isn’t) ‘another Mazda MX-5’ yet they overlook something critical, something vital to us enthusiasts – they don’t tell you what makes this car an Abarth or indeed a 124 Spider.

hey don’t describe the rush of dopamine delivered by the small-but-feisty 1.4L Multiair Turbo engine – an engine that’s not only tried-and-tested across a wide range of FCA vehicles (Alfa included), but also characteristically Italian in its power delivery between 3-5000 RPM.

They don’t tell you how the body, chassis and suspension caress the curves of the road with purpose, hugging it solidly like a basse danse with all four wheels. Or how the soft top (yes, a Japanese innovation) lets you go top-full to top-less, with one hand, in less time than it takes to read this sentence.

They seldom mention how the acoustic windscreen and extra sound deadening make it easy for you to converse comfortably with your passenger with the top down, or how it lets you enjoy your soundtrack of choice via the 9-speaker Bose stereo system.

And then there’s the roar. That seductive pop and roar. Courtesy of those three magical words: Record. Monza. Exhaust. They don’t tell you about that… (hint: you have to hear it for yourself! 😊)

These reviewers try to compare apples with oranges and fall short because the Abarth doesn’t look good on paper. You and I both know very well that what looks like utter madness on paper is a symphony on the road – particularly if it’s Italian, especially if it’s an Abarth!

To me, Belle is the complete package. An anthology. A 21st century reminder of the allure of the Italian automobile. I remember my first ride in a fiat when I test-rode my first 124 Coupe . I was very quickly seduced by that ‘symphony of madness’ and very promptly purchased that car.

50 years later, she’s still got it!
– Sam Mancarella

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