Most of the Great Photos, courtesy of Peter T.
(click them to enlarge)
A few lucky Abarth shoppers in Europe have already been able to scoop up some pre-releases of the new Abarth 124GT, and although they don’t have the GT emblem (part # 52117178) affixed to the decklid spoiler, they do have all of the package goodies – the primary ones being:
- the stunning new 35-pound carbon-fiber composite lined hardtop, which I predict will also become a highly sought after Mopar accessory item, despite the price, especially among those that race their cars
- and OZ’s great looking black aluminum alloy wheels that were produced exclusively for this model.
⇓ Peter T. (from Italy) not only is the proud owner of one of these vehicles, but I see that it is the new hue of blue! He has shared some close-up photos with me, so that others considering purchasing a 124GT or simply thinking of adding the removable hardtop to their 124 Spider (or perhaps a MX-5), will have an idea how they are attached to the vehicle. Take note of the great field of vision due to the wraparound rear glass that almost parallels having the top down (80% better than with the closed soft top).
Peter probably didn’t realize how much interest there would be in the OZ wheels, when he happened to include a couple of photos of those as well. 😉
Right off the bat, I hit him with a question that I deemed off-topic, but now I’ve decided that this article will be about both the hardtop AND the special wheels.
⇓ The weight savings resulting from choosing OZ’s certified alloy wheels vs. the standard wheels on the Abarth 124 intentionally counteract a good portion of the weight gain from the added hardtop, so that there would be no net-loss in performance claims, as a result in ordering the 124GT package.
⇓ This has got to be the first piece of 124 Spider glass, that doesn’t have the Mopar logo on it. Instead it has an Abarth logo prominently displayed. Is this a clue that the GT isn’t coming to North America?
The window defroster wire unplugs from the unused soft top glass and is connected to the hardtop glass via an extension harness (that should come with the hardtop; P/N shown on label photo), since the wrap-around glass connects further away ⇓ .
⇓ There are two brackets mounted in the soft-top well that the hardtop is attached to.
Peter later discovered that it is important that you not get these brackets (he identifies them as fixtures) mixed up, as they accommodate the body curve and the top will not fit as well if the brackets are not installed properly, and on the correct side of the vehicle. With all the stampings visible on the those parts, I’m surprised LEFT and RIGHT aren’t also stamped on them.
Peter and Tobias have also discovered that the “beltline molding protectors” will get marred or crushed, if:
- too much torque is applied to the hold-down bolts into the inside lateral brackets (especially when right and left are erroneously switched)
- and/or if the brackets (Fiat part numbers: 6000614068 and 6000614069) aren’t fit perfectly ⇓
and that the addition of some cushioning material might be advised, as well.
Peter adds :
Also for hardtop owners; under dry climatic circumstances, the hardtop may exhibit disturbing noises. This happens at one or both of the back fixtures. As you can see from the pictures below ⇓ , the Torx screw actually does not touch the sides of the hole through the carbon tabs. Just by inserting a rubber washer between the Torx and the tab as shown, the rather gruesome grinding noise stops at once 👍.
⇓ Looking at the fixtures from the inside of the car felt good when installing, but something kept nagging at me. So tonight, I switched right and left. Now I know it’s proper. Now when tightening the 13 bolt, the hardtop and body mate together over the length of the fixture.
The fixtures are not identical, but are each others mirror image. When looking from the side you can see lines that converge toward the back end (blue arrows), whereas the front side is the higher end (yellow arrows).
⇓ The painted plastic cover plates (body color vs. chromed metal in NA thru NC) that are normally installed on the non-GT models, to cover up the removed hardtop’s external tab wells that house a weld-nut designed to accommodate the hard top, along with plugs, washers, supports and 2 shorter Torx bolts, should all be found in a bag in the trunk, since they are all removed from the decklid plate area, in preparation for installing the hardtop.
⇓ Here’s a close-up showing the header latch and liner.
⇓ and here is a good stock photo from abarth.com/124-gt that I adjusted the brightness level on, to reveal the hardtop’s underside and mating to the header. Very nicely done!
⇓ Santtu Ahonen has written a great How-to article on installing Ricambi’s GT hardtop (purchased as a kit from a dealer) for those wishing to install one onto their own Abarth 124. This grouping of photos are courtesy of Santtu Ahonen, from the same article.
Note however, that he later observed:
I do not think there is any way for you to connect the cable after you have installed your hard top. This is where the owners manual goes horribly wrong!
…yet being unable to edit his installation instructions overview post, I’ve added the corrected version here (additions in red), in hopes that it helps someone from having to start over:
I’m not sure how Mopar can rectify the missing parts for those that purchased the hardtop installation kit from the initial production runs, but Peter had his hardtop replaced under warranty due to a rear mounting tab that failed, and happily reports that
- two sets of the Torx40 bolt head covers (part # 735696829)
- along with metal washer retaining clips that they snap into (part # 735696830)
now come with recent kits (and an “even-more-outstanding” carbon fiber finish of the hardtop itself, as well).
Here is his latest report:
In the upper left corner of the photo below, you can see that I now have two pairs of hex’s to fix the internal brackets. The new ones are much longer, which helps in centering the holes in which they have to go. It does take more time to fasten them all the way (but then it’s also more work for anyone attempting to steal the hardtop).
Two pairs of Torx40 covers [and the metal washer retaining clips that they snap into, which are not as sturdy]. If those upstanding clips are not bent outwards enough, the cap will come loose easily. I invented for myself a small improvement, since I already lost one (luckily I have two and now one backup). Two pieces of double sided foam tape will take care of things not flying away haphazardly…
Also new are the rubber washers; I already used those; maybe someone saw one of my pictures and added them to the kit since then (same for the double set of covers). The diameter and thickness are a bit off, and therefore I replaced them; what happens is that with the washers provided, when you fasten the torx screws, the rubber will bulge up, pushing inwards on the retaining clips, and as such the cap will not be able fully engage with the retaining clips.
What do you see more; the cable for the windscreen heating element plus it’s fuse (now double as well), the velcro strap which sits behind the back cabin wall to keep the cable in place.
Rubber chocks underneath the softtop which replace the Fiat ones when the hardtop is in place. They are about 0,5 cm higher (also double now).
And the foam blocks. Which need to be adjusted. The beveled side is missing and as such it does not insert in a stable way. It also hinders the movement of the window since it pushes the rear window moulding to the outside.
I was spot on with the dimensions, but these blocks are much more dense. On those blocks I made before. you can see which side needs to be beveled (1x1cm 45°). Also the blocks are not in one piece, but instead made from two slices of denser foam which are 3cm high like I did. Because if you take off the hardtop and forget about these blocks, they’ll just fly away…
The soft top remains stowed away when the hardtop is in place, but will be available as needed whenever the hardtop is removed. The glass in both tops have defrosting heating elements, so the wiring is simply connected to the top in use.
Peter pointed out that installing (and removing) the hardtop is a two-person job (one on each side) and involves first engaging the forward edge into the same windshield header wedges that secure the soft-top, prior to lowering the rear edge onto the four attachment points:
- 2 internal brackets (shown above) that are each secured by an anodized 13 mm bolt (4 cm long, 6 mm diameter)
- and 2 external tabs that appear* to be integral with the top (hasn’t been absolutely confirmed yet though), that are each secured by a Torx bolt
The mounting bolts are hand-tightened, the header latch is engaged, and then the bolts all need to be properly torqued tight.
Here is a link to the Abarth Owner’s Manual for the hardtop (thank you Ovo! the 1st page reveals details for the hardtop storage rack that is shown below).
* Per Brian Goodwin, if the 2 external tabs are fixed (not relocatable), then the hardtop can not be used on the ND, since “back deck mounting spots for the tops is where the cars are not the same”.
I have not heard yet as to whether the 124GT will be sold in North America (not sure if the hardtop needs to undergo crash testing in the U.S.?) – but I hope so, so that not only will prospective buyers have a choice, but that would lead to the wheels and hardtop becoming available as “parts”. For those that want hardtop alternatives, DG Motorsports offers two aftermarket versions (fiberglass and carbon-fiber) with lexan rear windows.
[Peter indicated on 6/29/2018, that the Italian publication Quattroruote (July) shows that the carbon-fibre hardtop is shown as a €1200 option ($1,400) when ordering a 124GT, which seems to indicate that dealers (at least in Europe) may be able to order and sell them separately. When purchased as a stand-alone part, they do come with all of the hardware needed to mount to a non-GT 124 Spider, if you are lucky enough to find a source.]
For those that track their Abarths, the hardtop is a necessary item on race days, but for most others, the hardtop is considered a seasonal item, and during non-race days or the summertime, it will probably be suspended in the garage in some fashion, so that the convertible can readily be driven topless, as it should be. Peter is dreaming up a pulley rig to do just that, and has volunteered to share his solution, once implemented*. Any mention of storage suggestions in the Owner’s Manual, by chance?
Meanwhile, since two people are involved in handling the top anyways, I found tr6’s simple, yet effective solution for the 60-pound hardtop developed for the NC (almost twice as heavy!), on the Miata forum with instructions quite promising. ⇓
As a retired FCA automotive engineer, it is my opinion that the hardtop (rumored to have already been developed by Mazda and shelved once the RF, which adds 113 pounds back onto the MX-5, was determined to be the next iteration instead) wouldn’t have passed European crash testing if the external tabs were not capable of sustaining a substantial lateral force to keep the top in-place, but it would be great if either Mazda or Fiat/Abarth would offer confirmation that as long as the top remains static, hanging the hardtop vertically on pins, as illustrated, would be an acceptable/approved storage method.
Perhaps the tabs are actually alloy metal, disguised in “carbon fiber”? All we need is a photo of these tops going down an assembly line hanging by those tabs. 😉
⇓ Santtu actually does suspend his hardtop via the external tabs…
* [UPDATE 6/14/2018]
⇓ Peter has successfully modified a Thule 838 Kayak Carrier in conjunction with surf board slings, to hang his hardtop vertically (not by the tabs 😉 ), and he is pleased with the outcome. He shared some photos, and his realization that it can be a “one-man” job after all…
I found out the Surfcor padded straps exactly match the size of the carbon top, without the metal parts touching anywhere. Which means that, if by yourself, after having loosened the tabs and brackets and having protected the bootlid [decklid] with some padding; you can place the straps around the roof on both sides. Having backed the car up near the rear wall [of my garage where the rig is attached], the Thule drawing strings in one hand and the front side of the roof in the other, you can do the whole operation by yourself!
For Summer 2019, Peter has decided to keep the hardtop in a silk bag, for even greater protection (and perhaps to help disguise it a little).
…it is completely covered in a silk bag, which actually is a sleeping sac for two. It hangs in a way that no rubber moulding is under pressure anywhere, so no permanent deformation of rubber parts.
Ovo has provided some photos of a rolling hardtop storage rack (with cover) that is available, as well. I think the details are included in the 1st page of the pdf file for the Hardtop Owners’s Manual, that is linked above.
Now, if you wish to finish it off with a new GT badge 😉
Peter noticed a question that Jay posted today regarding foam blocks and the installation of the brackets, and replied by email, since it is no easy task getting photos to display in the comments. The following is his reply:
Here are some pictures of my brackets where the indication ‘lato guida’ means drivers side and ‘Passeggero’ is passenger side.
Another hardtop user soldered the washers on the bolts(13) to make things easier. He also fixes the brackets onto the hardtop before placing. This might make a big difference in not having to fiddle around blind trying to put the bolts in their place. I however am afraid that a wrong manoeuver might make one of the brackets scratch ones paint..
About the foam blocks; my car and hardtop came without. After trying to contact FCA and Adler directly, to no avail, I decided in doing some DIY.
3cm thick foam pad. Even better if one can find 6cm thick pads. I just glued one half on the other.
Long side: 6cm
Short side: 4cm
Indent: 2cm x 1cm
Beveled part is 1cm x 1cm cut diagonally (45°)
(click on any photo to enlarge)