Engineer and program manager for the 2017 Fiat 124 Spider Leia Horton said developing the MD Mazda Miata-based sportscar was a “24-hour, 7-day-a-week job,” due to the roadster being a global project.
Horton, a 20-year employee at FCA, logged more than 1 million miles travelling between different countries during the 124 Spider’s development. She was deeply involved in all aspects of the car, overseeing aspects of design, engineering and vehicle integration.
FCA’s multi-content team worked to give the 124 Spider its own unique character separate from the Miata with which it shares a platform. They fiddled with the transmission and steering, but placed special attention on the exhaust note, with Horton saying they “care about exhaust.”
Horton was a good candidate to lead the 124 Spider project. She’s been driving manual cars her entire driving life, starting out on a 1981 Volkswagen Rabbit diesel. She also has an affinity for convertibles, starting out on the Rabbit before graduating to a 1983 Mustang convertible.
“I am very particular with my cars,” she said. “I either like a convertible car or one that has a sunroof. I like the open-air feeling,”