It hasn’t been long since Fiat unveiled the 124 Spider, a stylish roadster based on the fourth-generation Mazda MX-5. Now, word has it that the Italians are also planning a racing version for the World Rally Championship. If this proves to be true, the modern-day 124 Spider will follow in the exact footsteps of its predecessor, which also spawned a rally car, despite Fiat not offering a production coupe model. But, as exciting as it may sound, Abarth’s return to rallying is still a rumor as of December 2015.

It’s not because the Italian brand wouldn’t be able to turn the roadster into a tarmac-eating machine. The main problem is that a WRC-spec 124 Abarth currently has no class to race in, as the World Rally Championship has become a competition for superminis only.

In November 2015, Piston Heads reported — quoting sources close to Abarth — that the FIA is considering a new sports car category for the WRC. The class will be designed "to restore some petrolhead credibility to the series" and will allow larger vehicles, such as the Fiat 124 Spider, to race. For the uninitiated, WRC used to allow a wider range of cars in the 1970s and 1980s, from the Porsche 911 to the significantly larger, four-door Audi 200 Quattro.

We won’t find out whether FIA will indeed create a new class anytime soon, but the thought that Abarth might return to rallying is exciting to say the least. With that in mind, we decided to create a rendering of the Abarth 124 WRC and talk about as to what it might bring to the table. Find out more in my speculative review below.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2018 Abarth 124 Spider WRC.

Exterior

2017 Fiat 124 Spider High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 656085

Note: Fiat 124 Spider pictured here.

The exterior design will be one of the most important challenges in creating the 124 WRC. Because the road car was designed as a roadster, Abarth will have a lot work to do to transform the car into a coupe. Back in the early 1970s, when Abarth transformed the 124 Sport Spider into a rally car, the problem was solved by "gluing" a fixed hard top onto the cockpit. However, that’s not an option nowadays with the FIA’s strict safety rules, so it’s safe to assume that Fiat’s performance arm will have no choice but to rebuild the 124’s shell into a conventional coupe.

It's safe to assume that Fiat's performance arm will have no choice but to rebuild the 124's shell into a conventional coupe.

The roof alone will bring major changes to the 124. There will be a taller windshield, revised side windows, and more importantly, it will result in a shorter rear deck due to the new C pillars. The revised trunk lid will also become the base for a fixed rear wing, which will increase downforce and change the rear end’s appearance rather dramatically.

Up front, however, the headlamps and the overall shape of the engine hood and bumper will remain pretty much the same. Certain features, on the other hand, will differ from the road car. The daytime running light and fog lamps assembly on each side of the bumper intakes will be replace by large vents, while the a pair of additional light units, often so necessary in rallying, will be added into the main grille. The apron will also gain new features, such as a revised grille, a tow hook, and a new splitter. On the sides, look for revised side skirts, lightweight wheels wrapped in racing tires, and larger brakes.

Of course, like any rally car, it will come wrapped in a colorful livery. Our rendering shows a typical Abarth presentation garb with the usual white, red, and green, but the final version will be crowded with various brand logos.

Interior

2017 Fiat 124 Spider High Resolution Interior
- image 656060

Note: Fiat 124 Spider pictured here.

Much like any modern rally car, the Abarth 124’s interior will be stripped to the bone. The dashboard shell will probably remain in place to keep some vital components together, but other than that, the Italians will ditch most of the familiar MX-5 elements. Racing gear should include an Alcantara-wrapped steering wheel with a simple instrument cluster behind it, Recaro racing seats with six-point harnesses, lightweight door panels, and an array of switches and buttons on the steering wheel and on whatever will remain of the standard center stack. Naturally, the coupe will leave the factory with a full, FIA-approved roll cage.

Drivetrain

2017 Fiat 124 Spider High Resolution Exterior
- image 656065

Note: Fiat 124 Spider pictured here.

The drivetrain of the 124 WRC is a complete mystery that’s rather difficult to solve due to the fact that we don’t know anything about this new WRC class that the FIA reportedly plans to create. For instance, current rules mandate 1.6-liter turbo engine with direct injection, so it’s safe to assume that all cars that will race in the new category will have to use power units with identical displacements as well. Turbocharging will most definitely be allowed, but it remains to be seen whether the powerplants will displace more than 1.6 liters.

Should the FIA vote in favor of a 1.6-liter similar to the current unit, Abarth will most likely build a brand-new engine.

Making this speculation that much more difficult is that we still don’t know what kind of engine the road-going Abarth 124 Spider will use, with sources pointing toward either an uprated version of Abarth’s 1.4-liter or a detuned variant of the Alfa Romeo 4C’s 1.75-liter mill. Should the FIA vote in favor of a 1.6-liter similar to the current unit, Abarth will most likely build a brand-new engine.

The engine will be backed by a quick-shifting transmission and a rally-spec chassis with the latest suspension and braking technology.

Competition

2017 Fiat 124 Spider High Resolution Exterior
- image 656063

Note: Fiat 124 Spider pictured here.

Since we know nothing about this new WRC class the FIA is rumored to introduce in a few years, we can’t speculate as to what cars will compete alongside the Abarth 124. A new category for larger vehicle could draw various automakers to the series, but it all depends on the specific regulations it comes with. In 2014, Toyota announced plans to build an R3-spec rally car based on the GT 86 coupe. This model could be updated for the new class. We’ll be back with more details as soon as we know them.

Brief Abarth 124 Racing History

Fiat joined the World Rally Championship with a works team in 1971, when Abarth took the 124 Sport Spider and turned it into a coupe, while also making various modifications to make it eligible for the series. The vehicle had relative success between 1972 and 1974, with four wins and a 1-2-3 at the 1974 Portuguese Rally. Notable drivers included Markku Alen, Hannu Mikkola, Bjorn Waldegaard, and Bernard Darniche. To homologate the car for WRC events, Abarth also built a limited-edition model for road use. It was known as the 124 CSA and had a fixed hard-top.

Conclusion

2018 Abarth 124 WRC Exterior Exclusive Renderings Computer Renderings and Photoshop
- image 658731

Considering neither Abarth nor the FIA have confirmed plans for a rally car and a new WRC respectively, it’s best to take this review with a grain of salt. The Abarth 124 WRC might never happen, but if it does, it will be one of the brand’s most exciting vehicles yet. The fact that a racing coupe could eventually spawn a road-going version is also pretty exciting for Miata fans who have been clamoring for a full-fledged coupe for decades.

  • Leave it
    • * Just a rumor for now
    • * No official word on FIA’s new WRC class
What do you think?
Show Comments
Car Finder: