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Discussion Starter #1
Good morning, everybody!

So I know this has somewhat been covered ad nauseam, but I'd specifically like to hear from owners who daily-drive a 124 as their ONLY car. Some of the information I've read on this forum has almost scared me off (dealership service department scams, highway driving failures, clutch/water pump failures, etc), but I just really prefer this to the newer MX-5's.

To give you a little background, I love little roadsters and have owned 7 miatas over the last 15 years. However, I had to sell all of my fun toys to help fund my return to college (and to help me remain focused on school in general). I have been driving one of the most boring cars ever produced (Versa) for the last few years, but I just can't take it anymore. I recently found out that I may have been accepted to a PhD program, which will limit my income substantially for the next 3-5 years. However, I also know I will go absolutely insane if I'm stuck with this Versa for another 5 years, which leads me to my dilemma...

While I MUCH prefer the styling and sound of the 124 Spider, some of the reliability stories on the forum make me hesitate. I know the 2016-2017 Miatas have issues with the transmissions, but I also know that they've been REALLY good about replacing them, even if they're tracked and out of warranty, simply because of the reputation that transmission has gotten. FCA dealers on the other hand have a TERRIBLE reputation and it sounds like it's not uncommon for customers to be left without a car for weeks or MONTHS on end. Whatever route I choose, I will need to sell my Versa to be able to afford it. This car would be my only mode of transportation, and it will need to be capable of driving from Alabama to South Carolina at least 2 or 3 times a year, as well as light duty around Tuscaloosa to-and-from school. If I do the 124, it'll probably be an Abarth. If I do the MX-5, it'll likely be the RF if I can swing it.

So, TLDR, I'm torn between the Abarth and RF. It will be my only car, so it needs to be as dead reliable as possible. Thoughts?

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Every car has minor issues, NO MAJOR ISSUES or in other words it's not a LEMON.
The major diff. between the MX5 vs 124 spider(beside the look) is the engine. Transmission is the NC trans., breaks are the same, suspension differ but same make, inside the car the 124 had better quality, correct me if wrong, but Mx5 caught up to it.

LOOKS, that's what brought you here, but we don't buy the car based on the looks and kicking the tire. Hood or Bonet, Fenders and back hatch is aluminum, only door skin is metal

The 124 turbo engine, is a perfect match for the car, although this turbo engine is in the 500 Abarth and some other cars, it seems the issues are barely known in the 124.

The drive and feeling well that becomes personal and you only you can decide which suits you better. Good luck
 

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It really depends on the dealer. Some suck, some are ok, some (few) rock. Just need to do your research on dealer(s) in your area. Overall I’d expect the number of available dealers to go down, as Fiat is reducing its footprint in the NA market.
Keep in mind though that the number of posts re. unreliable 124s is not necessarily a sign that our cars are generally unreliable. Folks are much more likely to post when they encounter issues than when they don’t. Personally I’ve had my 124 for >4years, plenty of abuse, zero issues.

HTH, SL
 
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Discussion Starter #5
Arthur, thanks for that. That's exactly the kind of feedback I'm looking for!

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Discussion Starter #6
Every car has minor issues, NO MAJOR ISSUES or in other words it's not a LEMON.
The major diff. between the MX5 vs 124 spider(beside the look) is the engine. Transmission is the NC trans., breaks are the same, suspension differ but same make, inside the car the 124 had better quality, correct me if wrong, but Mx5 caught up to it.

LOOKS, that's what brought you here, but we don't buy the car based on the looks and kicking the tire. Hood or Bonet, Fenders and back hatch is aluminum, only door skin is metal

The 124 turbo engine, is a perfect match for the car, although this turbo engine is in the 500 Abarth and some other cars, it seems the issues are barely known in the 124.

The drive and feeling well that becomes personal and you only you can decide which suits you better. Good luck
Thanks for the feedback, but I'm already well-aware of the differences between the cars. Like I said, I've owned 7 Miatas in the past, so I read up on the 124 for a LONG time before it was ever released. I'm really trying to get a feel for the car based on people that DD theirs and whether or not they've had problems.

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Discussion Starter #7
It really depends on the dealer. Some suck, some are ok, some (few) rock. Just need to do your research on dealer(s) in your area. Overall I’d expect the number of available dealers to go down, as Fiat is reducing its footprint in the NA market.
Keep in mind though that the number of posts re. unreliable 124s is not necessarily a sign that our cars are generally unreliable. Folks are much more likely to post when they encounter issues than when they don’t. Personally I’ve had my 124 for >4years, plenty of abuse, zero issues.

HTH, SL
Ok. Awesome. Thanks!

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If parts availability and dealer/OEM service & parts support are your priorities, the Miata wins hands down. The Fiat business model doesn’t work for dealers, so they are closing or devoting minimal resources. Mazda on the other hand is a strong, growing brand with new dealers being added. Customer support also appears solid per miatanet.com.

Scan this forum and you’ll find frustrated members awaiting 124 parts on national back order. We Fiat owners are also entering unchartered waters going forward since the 124 was discontinued this year. Love my 124 but it’s a summer car, so I’m in a different situation than you are.

Good luck with your choice and with school. Once you get your PhD, you‘ll be looking at Porsche 911’s.

Edit: In terms of logistics, there isn’t and a Fiat dealer in Tuscaloosa, although there is a Mazda dealer there. The closest Fiat dealer is approx an hour away on the east side of Birmingham.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
If parts availability and dealer/OEM service & parts support are your priorities, the Miata wins hands down. The Fiat business model doesn’t work for dealers, so they are closing or devoting minimal resources. Mazda on the other hand is a strong, growing brand with new dealers being added. Customer support also appears solid per miatanet.com.

Scan this forum and you’ll find frustrated members awaiting 124 parts on national back order. We Fiat owners are also entering unchartered waters going forward since the 124 was discontinued this year. Love my 124 but it’s a summer car, so I’m in a different situation than you are.

Good luck with your choice and with school. Once you get your PhD, you‘ll be looking at Porsche 911’s.
Thanks for the heads-up. That was kind of my thought process too. I just love the sound and styling of the 124, but a buddy of mine had a 500 Abarth and it was a NIGHTMARE, so I've been super hesitant.

As for post-PhD, I'm REALLY hoping to be able to snag an R8 with the gated 6-speed, but we'll just have to wait and see. The jobs for a PhD-level engineer pay pay really well, but they're somewhat few and far between .

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I have an 18' Classica manual transmission and I daily drive mine.

Yes, had the water pump done, a known issue with some 18's, plus had the rear dif done, also a known issue. All repairs under warranty. I love the car, both for trips and daily errands, but then again I am retired and dont HAVE to be anywhere.

My personal opinion is just keep the Versa and get your degree. Then go car shopping.
 

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Mazda just overtook Toyota as the most reliable car, and the MX-5 was the most reliable Mazda. With our cars being 75% Mazda I dont think you have anything to worry about. Also reference the other 25%, its mostly engine and its components. The MultiAir won engine of the year in 2010 and is tried and true. Its is featured is several other FCA products.
 

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Not a daily driver,however......Have been driving /owning vehicles since 1968 (aged 17 years), qualified engineer,car club member since early 1970's and owned (like lots of members here) Mazda MX5's previously, so....most manufacturers suffer weaknesses so recalls at some point, some much more than others, Mazda "Very" reliable of course and guess what... the 124 Spider has MX5 underpinnings, suspension tweaks but basically it's "Miata" as you say, The "MultiAir 1.4" was small engine of the year 2010 and has proven it's worth since being used,in many various forms. The failures you have highlighted, as you were looking for them reasonably enough are few and minor...water pump issue is not actually a failure in most cases but a gasket leak were "Fiat" never applied enough sealing compound it seems.
Dealerships, described here by many as "Stealerships" are generally poor on product knowledge and service sadly, but...by sharing here we let each other know, be it North America, UK, Australia or Mainland Europe and YES UK Fiat dealerships do no better than those across the pond, however.............the 124 Spider IN ANY FORM is reliable and special and as a very experienced now 70 year old driver / owner I would say, "Look for the Positives" of which there are many;
You buy your Spider and you read threads here that give you an initial guidance to ownership like..."124 Spider Basic Ownership Rules"...."some of" (contributed to by quite a few experienced members), you want to buy an accessory but are not sure..we compare our own buys / experience when fitting in "How To" videos here, you have a concern not covered, you post (like now) and we assist you and if you want to meet up with your forum buddies ( post Covid) and buy them a pint ... Having said all that I have to agree with "Fiatmidway124" run the nuts off your present car then as finances improve and Spider leases expire you will be able to hunt down YOUR Spider and "Enjoy The Ride", Cheers
ron
 

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Push come to shove, here's the short answer.

On a forum, you're going to see a large amount of "negative" type posts. Here you'll also see considerably more favourable and positive posts, but when a person runs in to a snag with their Spider, this forum is where you come to get assistance and direction.

Your initial post when you created this thread reminds me of a conversation I had with a friend a few weeks ago. She was wanting to buy sometihing on Amazon but was concerned about the negative reviews. In reality, the item she was looking at had over 4,000 graded reviews, averaging 4.5 out of 5 stars... but only around a hundred written reviews of which about half were negative.

So who is more likely to spend the time to write a review as opposed to just clicking on the row of stars and saying you're done? Answer: for the majority, it's going to be those who have had issues. You can't let the 50 written bad reviews taint your perspective when the other 3,950 thought the product was great.

So it's the same here. Hundreds of owners, some of us more active on here than others, and likely hundreds more that are lurkers. (Nothing wrong with that, as many of us start out that way). With a couple of exceptions, you'll find that most everyone here has had an excellent experience with their vehicle. It's reliable, it's engineered very well, it's highly modifiable, it's fun to drive, and it looks great.

If you're dreaming about an R8, then that's motivation to complete your PhD. The guy I know who owns one is my dentist. Then again, he runs his own dental clinic with around 40 staff. We socialize in different circles. lol
 

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Only you can do the math for yourself:

If your enjoyment of the looks/sound/engine outweigh the worry over local Fiat dealership/warranty support/longterm parts availability, then by all means get the 124 Spider. Otherwise, the Miata is quite the "consolation prize."

Mine is my daily driver, for whatever that means these days. But I also went in knowing the nearest Fiat dealer is an hour away with suspect reviews, and that Fiat the brand is not long for North America. And I fully expect to DIY most of my repairs. I'm 9 months in and have:

80283


Just do your research for your circumstance so you make an informed decision. After all:

80284
 
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I specifically bought the Abarth 124 spider over the ND1 or ND2 (MX5) because of the reliability of the Abarth transmission. It uses the more robust last generation mazda transmission. I also owned 4 previous Miatas and couldn’t get past the looks of the ND... When Fiat announced the Abarth 124, I waited to see how things went and bought a 2018. Got a good deal and it is my daily drve. I also lucked into having a good dealer...although I only see him for oil changes. Life’s too short to spend time worrying about what might be.
 

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By the time you're financially comfortable with the purchase this car will be either non-existent, only available in crumbling heaps in the far corners of car graveyards, parts not wanted because no-one wants to continually fix cars that keep breaking down or ........ (I sincerely doubt that this will actually be the case with the 124).

Increasing in value because nobody is game to build another roadster unless they can sell for north of $150K (even if part or all of it is electric).

I'm not much of a gambling man but I know which way I'll go.

Be part of a last gasp, an era that your grandchildren will look back at and ask..... "grand dad, what was it like to drive a petrol, two seat, rear drive, top down roadster?" You can then toss them the fob (yes, they had fobs back then) and say..... "go see for yourself".

The '60's are fondly remembered by those of us old enough to have looked back and wondered the same thing. As bad as those cars were it didn't dispel the dream; we accepted the compromises and live with the memories.

If you love driving, just do it.
 

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I’m on my second A124. I would buy a third, but don’t have the room. I have a friend that just bought his fourth. 2 Classicas and 2 Abarths. Aside from some issues with mods I have put on my car, NO ISSUES. I have over 4.5k miles combined for both cars. If you want a trouble free car, buy a Prius. Oops there’s that battery replacement issue. If you are buying used, I would go for a 2017. That car seems, to me, to be better sorted out than the 2018.

Hope to see your initial post with your new 124 soon.

Dan
 

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I’ve got a 2017 Lusso with 41,000 miles that just went out of warranty last month. I had the reflash on auto transmission and that’s it. Tires getting flats have been my worst problem; two ruined from punctures.
 

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Mine has racked up over 45,000 trouble-free miles - Daily driver for nearly 3 years

For more, check out this thread -

 
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...Be part of a last gasp, an era that your grandchildren will look back at and ask..... "granddad, what was it like to drive a petrol, two seat, rear drive, top down roadster?" You can then toss them the fob (yes, they had fobs back then) and say..... "go see for yourself".
:)(y)
 
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