Imagine if Sergio Pininfarina developed the Spider progressively like Porsche had done with it's 911 model. A few more years of improvements with out a change to it's classic 60's design. The upside of the Pinin's lesser fame is that prices are not nutty crazy like the Porsche 911 is now. And not much chance the Pinin Spider "values bubble" will burst since you really can't find any for sale.
Of course the Porsche 356 shown was more about engineering innovation and the first Fiat 124 Spider's were about the growing market for affordable sports cars. But for the "retro fun" of driving a small light sports car, dollar for dollar the Pinin era Spider seems like the last real bargain in vintage autos. A few tweaks to these cars can get you 125 HP in a car that is less than 2500 pounds. The 59Hp Porsche is great but....
In an empty room, late in the day at Bonhams The Scottsdale Auction 2016 - the '83 Pininfarina Azzurra Spider shown in this site sold for $26,400.00. A world record for the model at auction, yet still a remarkable value in the world vintage Italian sports cars.
2 Cars I love, the other being an '89 R107 Mercedes 560 SL. In one roadster you can barely feel a speed bump. In the other you know what size pea gravel they made the speed bump out of. And oddly the 124 spider has more leg room. But...... If i had to sell one - I'd keep my Pinin Spider.
My wife loves the Mercedes (i'm no dummy) as it has a calm and strong demeanor with "giddy-up and go" when needed. A better cross country GT cruiser for sure. The Mercedes was over twice the price and it shows. But the sexy German tank also drinks 3 times more gasoline. And getting the soft top up or down? No contest.
To drive? Pushing a small sporting Pininfarina roadster to within 8 tenths of its limits around town is pure boyhood joy. Much closer to a Lotus Elise in it's drive ethos. Grab the wheel toss the car and feel.... everything.
The Farina family name goes back to Italy's middle ages, sculpting fear evoking suites of armor.
Leather wrapped Pinin "F"arina steering wheel.
The 124 Spider, designed in 1964 by Tom Tjaarda while working for Sergio Pininfarina's iconic design team in the epicenter of 60's design, Milan Italy. The design was magic. Everybody wanted one. Ferrari, Ferrari, Ferrari, the name was spoken more at Fiat dealers than at the Ferrari dealerships of the day. The Lampredi dual cam 4 was the longest running 4 cylinder in history, small quick and with solid Ferrari DNA...... But rust and bad electric terminals tainted the name and Fiat was asked to leave the US market. B,B... But it's so pretty! So.. in '83 Pininfarina takes the 18 year old design into their own factory and upscales the car 100 ways. Badged only as a Pininfarina now it's priced more like a Corvette. This web site is about that car. The Pinnfarina Azzurra. The last and best 124 Spider, offering the best rust warranty in America, and much more... Please, read on. Or go to the links below. Updated every month. (kinda)
Up close. Here you can really see the graceful curve rise over the Ferrari style door handle. See the graceful sweeping line back up to the swallow tail rear of the car. Very Pretty in person but hard to capture in photograph.
This minty original '83 still wears a round badge on the hood. But look close it has the "F" ...not for Fiat, but for Farina....... Pinin Farina that is.
Pinin Spiders are divided into 3 generations:
1) '82-'83 round badge.
2) '84 and 85 "Square Badge"
3) the very rare 1985.5 ..
Pininfarina had never marketed a line of cars before. They made cars for other brands, but they never had a real sales team. (Read our "Fiat is out.. " page.) They went thru existing Fiat dealers in Europe, but Fiat was ousted from the USA and left behind hard feelings. New dealers were now scarce in the US. For the American market they hung their hats on the Ferrari connection, and marched on. We will show you some vintage ads where you can sort of see what the Pininfarina ethos now was... via the links below.
Pininfarina was still doing custom coach work and prototypes.... not just Ferraris.
In fact 1960's cool is best represented by the name Pininfarina. The 50 year old name was magic even in the 80's. Most of the worlds most sought after cars - ever - wear the Pinin badge.
The panache of owning a car of Italian design unchanged from it's 60's concept is quite compelling. But to drive one thru twisty roads on a summer evening is downright therapeutic. The Lampredi in line 4 is a gas sipping jewel that is music to the ear.
No GPS, no traction controls or other items that isolate you from the road. Just you, that vroom, and whatever lies ahead.
A great view. From here you can see the subtle beltline sweep up from the Ferrari style "tear drop" door handles up over the rear quarter panel. One of the 124's most endearing design angles. The swallow tail back side is beautiful with a classic blending of angles and curves. Pininfarina's are never overdone.
The kid in me seems to always play the James Bond Theme song in my head every time I approach any mid-century designed Italian Pininfarina Spyder.
(dum dee dee dum - dee dum)
I toss Miss Moneypenny's bag behind the seat. (what a novelty having room for her bag in a sports car) Scenic back roads map. Check. Sunglasses... Check. Moneypenny applies matching lipstick.. we're ready.
I start that DOHC italian motor with Ferrari DNA. whoosh, purr. As always, I get that big dumb smile. Let it warm... Pump the gas. Ah the allegro of a mechanical symphony. Italian motors have a special way of saying vroom. With the road ahead quick and twisty we always get lots of thumbs up or as we pass by they say: "Nice Carrrr"
Then... every time, after we get home, I put it away in it's toy box. I try to just walk away, but can't help it.. One last look over my shoulder... Those great lines in her figure. And the cooling motor softly going, ping. ping. But what I hear is "come back - come back".
In 1966 Fiat introduced the 124 Sports Spider, a sports car that is regarded as the most commercially successful automobile in Fiats history. That same year Battista "Pinin" Farina passed away... his son Sergio took over as president of the company. (the family name was changed from Farina to Pininfarina in 1961) Since 1952 Pinin Farina (pre '61 name) had a virtually exclusive pact with Ferrari, the worlds most iconic sports car. Pininfarina made the painfully beautiful and timeless designs for Ferrari that remain the most sought after cars in the world. See our History page, below.
Then.. in 1982, after more than 50 years of designing cars for other companies, Pininfarina became a true automobile manufacturer, taking over from Fiat the companies most successful design, the Sport Spider. (you might look at the "Fiat is out.." link below) To this timeless sports car design - now 17 years old - Sergio added "over 100 design and engineering improvements", and renamed his beauty The Azzurra in America and Spider Europa in Europe. The last of the 124 Spiders had a multitude of upgrades making it the most desirable of all the models. Then it was upgraded again for the '86 model year.. see the 85.5 link below.
From late 1982 until 1985 1/2 (until the Cadillac Alante' deal) The Pininfarina factory alone made these new more upscale Spiders. For the USA market they were called Azzurra's. Now priced at $16,900 it cost as much as a Lincoln Town Car, or a BMW 3 series sedan. In Europe they were sold as The Spider Europa see links below
It was a curvy 1960's classic design, even if it was 20 years old. It was stubbornly sexy in a boxy K car and VW Rabbit world. This site is for the admiration of these now truly classic Italian cars. " Sergio's 911"
The fuel injected Lampredi designed DOHC 4 motor.
Fiat was able to buy Chrysler without spending any money because of its advanced small motors. The longest running 4 cylinder motor in history is also the godfather of small motors -the "Lampredi Dual Cam", produced from '66 to 2000 for Fiat, Lancia, Morgan, Pininfarina and Alfa Romeo.
A photo from the Fiat Freak Out 2014 in Chicago. About 30 of the124 Sport Spiders gathered from all over the USA. Of the 17 cars seen in this photo only 3 have the "Ears" of the upscaled Pininfarina Spiders. Side mirrors sticking out of the quarter windows is one of the first "tells" it's made in Sergio Pininfarina's factory.
Rare? here is the shipping math:
For every 10 Pinin Spiders there is 400 Fiat Spiders. A (40) to (1) ratio.
Ferrari shipped more 308GTS Spiders than Pinin Spiders in the same time frame.
Try to find more than one '83 -'85 Spider for sale - at one time - in your home country...... We bet you can't.
This '83 is the car we use as reference to originality. No mods. Nothing. Note that the factory color Roso Vivo looks kinda orange indoors, yet vivid red (thus the name vivo) when viewed outside in daylight.
There is only one place each year to feast you eyes and ears on this many Spiders... The annual Fiat Freek Out! For more photos go to our links below.
At the Lemay Museum in Denver. I still like the looks of a Pinin Spider best. The Mercedes Gullwing 300SL is a real auto legend clearly in another class, hand made for the affluent buyer. Go get one! But if the $1.5 million it takes for a clean example Gullwing does not fit the budget this month you might be drawn to the light Italian Spider with the eager DOHC 4 motor designed by a famous Ferrari engineer. You may save enough to get that ocean view condo in Hawaii.
Both cars stand equal chance of breakdown on the way home.
Pininfarina factory shot, Spiders coming down the line on the left. Ferrari's top right. This photo from a 1985's UK auto show brochure found at the Pininfarina Booth. The baby Ferrari was made in same room with the same tools by the same mechanics on the same day. Sergio Pininfarina's pride and joy! Ask an experienced Ferrari mechanic who's been inside both cars... The term Baby Ferrari is not a misnomer.
- Fiat above ('66-1982)
- Pininfarina, round
------ and -------
- Pininfaina Square badge
The Pininfarina Spider. Here is a one stop place to get information on these cars. They've been undervalued and under appreciated for some time, so there's been little motivation for a site like this. I hope you find it entertaining. These baby Ferrari's have flown under the radar for to long.
I strive to make the information as accurate as I can.
I'm a fan of the beautiful design. I love what it is not. It is not unattainable, yet it's exclusive. It only looks expensive. Yet it's very sexy, more so in person than in photos. And it's art, plain and simple.. art in its classic shape and its low tech mechanicals. Rare as approx. 3000 Spiders made it into the USA.. how many are left? Who knows. Some say the DMV lists only 400
But... If you tell an investor/collector with say, a 250GT Ferrari or a Gullwing Mercedes that you have a spider, they will smile politely, look just past you and find someone more important to talk to. In truth 20 years ago those million+ dollar cars were selling for 10% of what they are today. Back then they had the same quirks as any old car -rust, poor ventilation, quirky urban road manners - now that they are over a million dollars nobody speaks much of the inherent troubles you get for your money. But when the rare Azzurra's sell for $50K or more in the future they may look back at the original reviews. " .. this spider sticks like glue" or "... 83% buyers would buy again", or "gorgeous lines and hugely entertaining to drive."
The Azzurra was a sports car for the rising middle class. (Time magazine called 1984 "The Year of the Yuppie") Sergio Pininfarina intended to upscale it, the uber rare 1985.5 model showed that intent. Kinda rare? There is about 40 "Fiat Spiders" for every one Pininfarina made Spider. Here is a guide to our links located at bottom of page:
Pininfarina Spiders: update 2021 The Baby Ferrari. Offering mid-century design, a small fuel efficient Ferrari engineered motor, disc brakes and a 5 speed. The Pininfarina badge added Ferrari level paint and more luxury than the Fiat era 124 Spiders. In the age of climate concerns and Tesla leading all manufactures away from gas motors, one might find joy in a small light yet sexy sports car that does not belch gas. Now with a little investment in mechanics and paint the Pinin era Spiders are gaining interest. Of the great design houses Bertone, Touring, Scaglietti and other famous "want makers" that made you fall in love at first sight. Pininfarina was - and still is - the greatest of them all. And they made and badged only one car from '83 to '85. The upgraded 1985.5 their rarest car.
The 1986 Model year was cut short because the factory needed room for a doomed Cadillac. So, they are called 1985.5 models. These are among the rarest Italian sports car in the USA with only 186 shipped. Please enjoy this web site set up like a scrap book of information for you to revisit often.
A cool looking sports car by any measure.
A very rare, beautifully re-painted, completely restored 1985.5 Spider Europa. Is this one of the last unfound rare sports cars? With only 186 examples imported into USA and 1/2 of those now gone.. yes, I think so. Is it worth the time and expense to also do a complete rebuild of motor and transmission? Yep.. I thought so. Was there significant improvements over the Fiat model 124? Go to links just below for more.
No Pininfarina spiders here, only Fiats.... they are elusive.
an appreciation of the first and only automobiles to be totally manufactured by the esteemed Carrozzeria Pininfarina of Milan Italy - meet the baby Ferrari
Thanks for looking:
Much more info by clicking on links below.
These are exciting little cars yet to be fully re-discovered. Please bookmark this site to enjoy and learn more. Share knowledge with us, so we can pass it along.
Otherwise come back soon. I'll update often. Have fun. We have some backround on Sergio and Pinin Farina, Tom Tjaarda and Aurelio Lampredi in links below.
Go get a clean 124 spider while you still can.
This car is badged a Pininfarina. You can tell it's an Pinin from the improved dash that sweeps up from the center. Air conditioning now standard (USA cars) and you get improved ventilation with the new dash layout. Also electric windows controls and clock are in the center of dash. This amazing example is factory original. This is what the original square weave German made carpet looks like. Check this photo against any Pininfarina claiming original carpet.
More photos - and information - in the links below.
If you follow the classic car market you might have noticed how few come up for sale. We've seen very few come up for sale on Hemmings the numbers we see are less than 3 per year with Jaguar e-types having about 380 cars (or more) listed each year.
I'll be adding photos and information each month. I would buy dealer information, manuals or instructions. Also Pininfarina signs or paraphernalia. We just added more images from the original Pininfarina Catalogs of '83 - '85. Look at the "features found on Pinin"... link.
The first and the last of the classic 124's
Well.. not quite first. A '74 and an '85.5
Another Azzurra interior shot. Notice no more back seats, instead a carpeted shelf. Note the 3 chromed luggage bumpers on the shelf, an original detail. The Pininfarina Azzurra was an upscale car, at $17K ( $20K by 1985) That about $42K in todays dollar. Compare the price of the base Corvette of '82 that was $18K.
Ask someone who knows nothing of classic car values what car is most attractive. I think you'd be surprised how universally compelling as the Spider is. Pure sculpture.. I've never driven one of my Spiders with out someone stopping just to stare at it or ask to take photos next to it.
Road trip anyone?
Listen close.. can you hear it? Now pump the gas.
Yes - you can find parts.
Original Carpet, and metal trim on storage box in footwell. Storage.. just can't be found in modern cars.
Selling luxury, not an affordable price was what you saw in the images of Pininfarina Azzurra brochures. No longer priced to compete with MG. Now with a rising middle class the Spider was "refined elegance" priced like a base Corvette offering Ferrari DNA in "Uncompromising performance". Pininfarina made, designed and badged. A classic Pedigree indeed.
Go to links below for more.....
Sergio's pet project being photographed in Palm Springs
These quotes are from a dealer brochure that was used to field customer questions about the "new" 124 Spider of '84
Original Tom Tjaarda drawings of prototypes that never came to be. Top: the famous "Rondine" that was turned down by GM to be the Corvette in '63 (this was Toms favorite of all his famous designs) To the right is his first draft of the 124 Spider for Pininfarina. Note the strong DNA to the "Rondine". See other artwork in "history.." link below. Tom shared this with me to share with you.
Tom Tjaarda passed away June '17
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