The Good Thing about the Factory Tool Set that came with every new Fiat 124 Spider is that it was an excellent indicator of the kinds of maintenance tasks you could reasonably expect to do yourself. There were tools for changing a tire or a spark plug. There was a tool to adjust the carburetor. There was a wrench to change the air filter and another to remove the oil drain plug. There was a punch to help replace brake pads and you could even adjust the parking brake, replace a light bulb or bleed the brakes. The problem with the Factory Tool Set is that for many tasks you are going to need more tools than they provided. That and the fact the quality of the tools tended to be, well, for sort of an Emergency. I haven't figured out whether you would only resort to them in a genuine emergency, or if actually using these tools would create an emergency in its own right.

The wrenches were thin and flat and made out of a metal-ish type substance, plated with a green-yellow material. They certainly weren't made of tool steel or plated in chrome. They had raised seams that could have stood being filed down at the factory a little more and no other markings than the wrench size and the word Fiat stamped on them. The screwdriver had a reversible blade with a flat on one end and a number 2 Phillips on the other. The handle was made of rich Budgetwood that would split as soon as you applied any torque to it and allow the blade to slide effortlessly into the heel of your palm.


The punch was actually fairly useful. It did not need to do anything other than take up the space between a part and the hammer blows used to unstick it. Strangely enough, Fiat did not include a hammer in the set. I know early British sports cars had a lead-faced hammer included to "undo" the center knock-offs on their wire wheels. No hammer in the Fiat arsenal, though. You had to buy your own.


The jack was held down with the same type rubber strap as the tool kit, but directly opposite in the trunk over the passenger side wheel arch. It was a screw type scissors jack with a small channel in the top to fit under the rocker panel sill for lifting the car. Here is where the Fiat folks could have shown some real engineering design sense. The jack came with a ratcheting handle with a hex head that fit the jack drive. A truly clever design department would have supplied a jack handle that had a 19mm drive in it to exactly match the size of the lug bolts. One tool could have done double duty in loosening the wheels and then rotating the jack drive.


In fact, a really clever bunch might have standardized several fasteners, like the oil drain plugs for the engine, transmission and rear end to match the spark plug size and the lug bolts. You would then have one fairly straight-forward tool that turned one way would undo lug bolts and turned the other would install spark plugs. The savings realized from supplying only one tool (instead of three or four) would have allowed them to use higher quality materials and better craftsmanship.


No problem though. The tool kits that came with the car are largely academic anymore. If you are going to take your Fiat 124 Spider to concourse events and expect to get top marks, you have to have a complete one in the correct grey plastic box strapped to the mount inside the trunk. Otherwise, you can do much better at keeping you Fiat on the road with an assortment of Sears Craftsman wrenches stored in a plastic fishing lure box under the seat.

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