This seems as good a thread as any to ask whether the 124 Spider's appearance or the way it drives is more important? I suspect forum participants will fall somewhere in the middle. I'm biased toward the driving side but am always happy that a car I enjoy driving also happens to be attractive.
For me it's probably 70% driving and 30% looks. I do have to say that the 30% looks is important and the main reason why i'll be buying a 124 over a new Miata. It's also why I'm waiting until next year for a color I like. I'm really hoping for a blue classica manual (so jealous of the EU market). I would buy a red one, if something happens to my 1990 Miata, but seeing that I get at least 90% of the performance and smiles of the 124 I am in no rush.
Mostly style for me. The Miata has a modern style. The Fiat has a classic style. I do not care for how the older Miatas have aged and believe that the ND will look similarly dated in a decade. I think the Fiat will age better.
Truthfully, neither car knocks my socks off performance-wise. I think they are nice sporty roadsters, but not serious performance cars. I think they are great at what their built for though and am looking forward to possibly buying one.
I think the FIAT badge has bit more allure in the US as well, perhaps as much out of absence/ignorance as anything else. That probably goes two-fold for the Abarth badge. I imagine this will be the Italian sports car many enthusiasts want once in their lifetime but can't justify an Alpha, Ferrari, Lambo, or Maserati (myself included).