First I should mention that your 124 spider of any year was meant to work on "dinosaur juice" that is: Real oil.. not synthetics. Casterol 10-50 oil suggested.
You can read articles from various automobile magazines in the "Brooklands Books" Book of re-prints titled: "Fiat 124 Spider, Performance Portfolio" a good book if you're thinking of purchasing a Spider. (see photo)
I'll share some quick thoughts if you've never driven a Spider or if it's been a while.
Update Summer 2018: Recenty I drove my Pinin Spider home some 400 miles, No cruise control, but a nice radio and a great open road soundtrack. With my wife we had the roof up, and packed with luggage (and guitars). Honestly the squeaks and rattles got rather old after 300 miles. We stayed on the back roads -- it can take 65-70 MPH without too much issue-- some back highways in better condition that others. It was fun.. but we were tired. I didn't drive it again for a few days as I was tired of the squeaky little thing. However, later that week, the car now empty, less weight, top down, just me.. and the birds. It was a total change, no notice of rattles, just that great motor, the car - now empty - just loves corners. As a driver you get used to waving back at people, these spiders get lots of attention. This car is perfect for short trips over an open highway... I still totally love it. Like most "sports" cars it is meant to actively drive... not sit back, relax and cruise. Her's more:
The car is designed in 1966, wrap your head around that, it's not really a late 80's car. It has squeaks and rattles and fairly poor panel gaps in the body..... again not unlike some other "cherished" brands of the era.
However all Post 1979 Spiders are fuel injected, so they start on chilly mornings. They have simple layouts in the engine bay, Tom Tjaarda has written that he designed the spider to be worked on by the owner. It can.
At 105 HP (rated near the red line) this car not gonna scare anyone, but it is a blast to drive. The engine sound is addictive. If you've not driven an old car in a while you may notice a lot of mechanical rattles, unsettling maybe but becomes part of the joy of driving. The Lampredi 4 seems happiest after it warms up, thats when you can push it harder. I still get over 30 MPG and thats not babying the motor.. Many writers have complained about the steering wheel position being too Italian. Honestly from day one it never bothered me. My Alfa Spider Duetto had a rather odd driving position that took getting used to, the Pininfarina Azzurra Spider is - in my opinion - a better drivers car. The back shelf is soon a necessity if you are traveling with two. The spider looks small but it has remarkable interior room, even if you are tall, it has shoulder room. The car has ample trunk space but gets a bit thinner as it tapers tword the rear lights.
It does not have power steering, it is a 1960's car, with no "cruise control" no ABS, no stearing wheel controls, it's a classic car with low tech features. In fact, it's so low tech the inside lighting is fairly dim at night. (easy fix) These cars are "Sports cars" that is they are really made for the joy of driving. It takes active involvement and returns in spades with a fun mechanical feel. I hate automatic transmissions so I can only relate to the 5 speed.
You will learn to expect that people point and wave. Spider are magnets, you'll meet many who will love to regale you with stories of the one Spider they loved... and lost.
You should be in the habit of checking fluids. Look under the car to see what's been dripping. The Radiator is fairly small. Check the water. An amount the size of a coffee cup can be the difference between full and too little water. Make "nice nice" with your local Fiat 124 Mechanic, grumpy or not you will need him. Maybe not always..... my car has not needed service for 2 years... but find a mechanic in your area before you jump in.
I promise you will be checking the weather all the time just to see if it's "spider weather". It does have 4 wheel disc brakes, unlike other cars in it's price range it can stop with out undue stress.
The heat works well. The air? Kinda.
The convertible top is famously easy.
If you compare to say the Ford Mustang of same years. (The Fox bodied models) The Mustang has less style, is boxy, cheaper interiors, and except for the top of line 1980's 5.0 V8- SVO edition Mustang.. they are all slower (and heavier) than the Azzurra in the 0 to 60 MPH time trials as well. - Yes the small 8 cylinder Fords are slower than the Lampredi 4. Remember it's basically a mid 1960's car, freshened by 1983-85 but you are getting a "refined" '65 Sports car. Not a fresh off the new design tables of 1982, Car. That my friends is a big part of it's charm. The 1965 design was still a timeless classic in the eyes of Sergio Pininfarina in 1985.
They cruise well at 55 MPH, all day even, the tach at 2500-3000 in 5th gear, well below the 6000 red line.
Scuttle Shake? My E-30 BMW convertible was worse. My 67 Chevy was lots worse than my Spiders. It's a 30 year old sports car but does not feel like its coming apart after going over bumps or RR tracks.
Not a GT interstate cruiser that goes 80 mpg all day long, but 65?... yes no problem. You might say it's more of a big Vespa Scooter than a Harley Davidson.
It grips corners quite well, not like Porshe or Lotus but better than most of it's era. My Mercedes 107 was a slow tank compared to my Spider... but the Merc is really a GT.. meant for long tours on open roads. The rolling country roads, back highways and city suburban drives are magic for the Pininfarina Azzurra.... enjoy one soon.
Beware the tin worm, this car spotted at a dealer looked great on line. Triple black '85 (square badge) and ad said no rust! Not true, no rot, but many bubbles hidden by touch up paint. Disappointing, because at some point you'll be looking for a good "paint guy". However was an otherwise clean car for restoration, albeit pricey ...... maybe seems bargain now. Does it have receipts for repairs done, like timing belts? No? Best to figure in some repairs like any older car.... especially one with a Ferrari designed motor.
These specs for all Spider 2000 (since 1981)
See the "Features found exclusive to Pinin" page too.
The Lampredi i4 twin cam motor had a 32 year run. It was used by Fiat, Lancia, Alfa Romeo, and even Morgan: Lampredi was an ex- Ferrari engineer who made 4 bangers for Enzo in the 50's. "Fix It Again Tony" really means.. "Maintain you car properly". These are tried and true small motors that can go 100-150K miles with out a rebuild. One of the longest production runs for ANY motor. When set up properly the motor has proven to be quite durable!
-- 1995cc-- 2.0liter- -fuel injected-- DOHC- 4 cylinder in line with aluminum alloy head, and cast iron block. The cam shafts driven by a toothed timing belt with tensioner
........... Front engine / rear wheel drive..............
-- max Torque 110lb-ft @3000rpm
- the 2400 pound spider was rated at 105 BHP @ 5500 rpm
-- bore........ 3.31 (84mm)
-- stroke ........ 3.54 (90mm)
-- compression ratio .............. 8.1 to 1
-- Transmission - 5 speed manual standard and a
GM made 3 speed automatic was optional
-- Wheels: Fiat had optional 14/5.5 in. cast aluminum "Cromodora" brand wheels. ( 13" Wheels were standard.)
185/60hr 14 (Pirelli P6 tires came standard)
-- Brakes... all 4 disc 8.9-in. (few -if any- other cars in this price range had disc's in all 4 corners)
-- Suspension Rear- live axle , trailing arm, hydraulic shocks with anti roll bar
-- Suspension Front-- independent upper/lower A-arms
with anti roll bar
-- Steering- Worm and roller (Rack and pinion for the 85.5)
Does it fit in garage?
--- wheelbase ......89.7 in.
--- length..... 163 in (about 13.5 feet)
--- width....63.5 in (about 5 feet wide)
not if the engine is stock.
However it been suggested 92-93 octane is better for winter storage
- unleaded 87 octane (10.6 gallon tank)
-- EPA sez: 25/36 MPG... about 27 mpg mixed driving.
(I've gotten up to 40mpg in high way drives)
Compare Zero to 60 time trials with other cars of the period:
1st the Pinin Spider:
--- 0 to 60 time 10.8 seconds.... Lets compare a few others:
Ferrari 246 Dino (V6) = 7.1 sec
1980 Ford Mustang (255ci)= 11.8sec
1980 Ford Mustang Cobra (V8) = 11.3 sec
1968 BMW 2002 = 11.2
1983 BMW 320i = 11.6 sec
1982 BMW -528E (V6) = 10.2
1990 Mazda Miata = 9.0
1981 Honda Civic= 15.5
1983 Mercedes 380SL (V8)= 10.8
1960 Mercedes 190SL (now crossing the $200K mark) = 13.5 sec
Spider stopping: 60 to 0 = 153 feet
A bit more on
he wanted also to be a famous conductor and loved music (Like Enzo Ferrari) Early on he worked on aviation motors.
He went to Work for Ferrari in 1946 at a time when all unblown racing engines gave about 50bph per liter, but then would blow up rather expensively in the longish races. Within 2 years he increased Ferrari's output to almost 100bph per liter. And they finished every race. First.
Lampredi was the engineer at Ferrari during the winning '52-'53 season. He left Ferrari in 1955 but his famous 2 valve in line-4 was used at Ferrari thru 1957. His 12 cylinder motors were used up to and including the 1964 model Ferrari 500 Superfast. He is credited for "fixing" the Dino 6 as he was working for Fiat at the time. And worked for Fiat's Abarth racing group from 1973 thru the 1982 season. He passed away in 1989 at 72 years of age.
Is this electronic spaghetti bowl a Pinin or a Ferrari or a ISO?
Funny they all kinda have the same issues, so it's hard to tell.
What would Pininfarina have done? No longer a Fiat, the Azzurra was headed to even more luxury.
In Italy that starts and ends with soft italian leather, so is "extra" leather a forgivable modification? Most probably.
The aroma of leather butter soft to the touch when you sit down in a freshly redone Spider.. mated to the sound of the Lampredi motor purring as it awaits your command is almost surreal. No other car offers these blends of small motor sports car and Italian ethos.
Just look at the stitching on the sun visor above, like a vintage baseball. The Pininfarina's are rare, they beg for a bit of "tarting-up", but work of this quality has been reserved for Masserati, or Ferrari. Will it ad to resale to go beyond what was in the car originally? I would argue yes... Sergio Pininfarina seemed intent on upscaling his design, even mentioning the evolving Porshe 911 as a mentor. Look at the car below, imagine that it had a 250hp motor as well as bigger brakes and better suspension... then imagine butter soft Ferrari leather too. These are very livable cars, easy to work on, roomy, fun to drive and a very attention gathering automotive sculpture. As other 60's designs climb in value these cars seem a obvious choice for the "next big thing" in historic driving. They are great cars factory furnished... Stunning little sports cars with a little modification and a lot of leather. Many choices for restoration or retro-mods. See the contacts page for suggestions
Examples of 1) Medio Blue, 2) Rosso Amaryllis Mettallizzato, and the last and less orange version of 3) Roso Vivo.. or Rosa Corso, Italian Racing red. These three cars are all 1985.5 Spiders... that might represent 5% of the population left in the USA.
These spiders are great fun to own
there are some foibles to be aware of:
(Sooner or later you'll require the services of a specialist, So it's good to have Fiat back in USA......)
--Rust, south western cars bring a premium as states that don't use salt or have heavy winters, rust less. Regardless of what state it's titled, some cars are just well cared for, you can forgive minor rust as it can be fixed. But with rot and rust-thru you'll be asking: "Cuanto?" a lot. Look for rust, I'm afraid italian cars are famous for it. Pinin Spiders... less so.
-- 2nd gear synchro's, 2nd gear grinds or just pops out of gear. In my area it's $800 -$1000 to have a 2nd gear synchro done. A full rebuild transmission goes to a specialist, expect $1500-$2500 to get it "like new" BTW: A Ferrari 456 has this same issue.. except the price to repair. I might suggest that you always take it easiest on second gear. 1) avoid red lining in second gear. 2) Don't hang or pull on the stick shifter while driving. Make your gear change and let go of the shifter. Be kind to the Fiat 2nd gear to lengthen it's life. In truth it's not super fragile, but.. if you mention transmission trouble, 2nd gear gets mentioned by the Fiat mechanics.
--Timing Belt... these rubber belts wear out (same as your Honda) in 2014 TB replacements are 800-$900 and done every 35-45K miles (Hondas need it @100K miles)
- Head Gasket .. see photo above, the gasket goes between those two parts. They get hot. They get old. same as any 30 year old car. It will need replacing. Do the valves at same time. It can be an expensive (or time consuming) hobby. ($1500 - $2500 but vary's)
-- Brakes pulling to one side.. Seized calipers maybe, or damaged front balljoints and wishbone bushes. Any basic vetting of a 30 year old Spider should include brake lines and pads. All rubber in fact needs replacing for your personal safety.
-- Slow electric windows..... get used to it.
-- Intermittent switches, it wouldn't be italian classic with out fussy electronics. I keep Radio Shack contact cleaner around. My first ever drive in my 1st Spider had the lights go out after flashing my brights, at night, country road. Bam.. went black. The fix? Simple ..... Fiddle with it. Then have someone replace the switch
It's wise to make sure you have a good mechanic in your area before making the plunge into any old car... let alone an Italian old car.
Of course getting a car that is low mile and well cared for helps.. but rare. Buying some ones previously restored car would be great...IF you know and trust the place that did the work. Increase you odds and luck by hanging at car shows or car clubs (see contacts page) Going to a restoration shop really is the easiest and maybe safest way to go. See our contacts page below.
Azzurra Spiders are best served fresh ....
...... fresh out of a year long restoration.
A really good paint job is expensive because it involves lots of time. To remove everything, then strip, repair rust, Sand, mask, paint, block, wet sand, clear coat and fully understand paint codes is an art. (Then we get into re-chrome.) And then put it back together! These cars are sculpture, (with fussy electronics) do it right the first time.. to enjoy, for the rest of us to look at, and for resale down the road. Just because the Azzurra costs less than an E-type doesn't mean the paint job will cost less. A really well done paint job, brings joy, and resale. Poor paint work is a waste of money. Like any collector car, if you can't afford good paint, best advice is keep the patina! Good paint and reconstruction will be $5K to $9K to get a job not unlike factory paint. (some orange peal) A Ferrari level paint could be $30K or easily more.
the total out put of Pininfarina's from '82 to '85 was about 6400 Pinin Spiders shipped world wide.
Production peaked in 1983 at 2500 cars. (It is said that is because 1/2 of those were from unsold Fiats.) In 1985.5 only 1200 cars were produced and only 186 made it to the the US Market. Many imported by US Military officers .
Estimates are 200,000 Fiat 124 Sport Spiders
were made from '66 to 1982. Almost all the Fiat's came to American shores.
Pininfarina shipped 6400 cars and had a more european view and was closer to 40% going into Europe and the rest going to the US. We estimate 3500 Spiders were shipped to the USA.
Neglect has likely taken 60% of that total. Thats why true PininSpiders are rare, and rarely come up for sale. Clean ones almost never.
In fact Fiats are 20 times more common than the Azzurra world wide. In the USA that ratio about doubled. In effect there is (40) Fiats for every (1) Pininfarina.
Euro cars got the larger bumpers as well. Not everyone hates them as they help in tight urban parking situations. If you've ever watched someone park their car near your precious car you understand.
The Lampredi 4. Aluminum alloy top with cast iron bottom. Beautiful.
These cars are not to be compared with a Maserati or Ferrari. They were priced like a loaded Mustang and they are all 30 years old or older. 10 years ago you could buy a running beater for $3500 and let it rust while you thought of fixing it. And thats part of what makes them rare today. They are now recognized as rolling art from a very prestigious auto design house.... and prices are on the rise.
Today, treating one of these Spiders to a full restoration makes more sense. Finding a car like the red '83 pictured on our home page -with less than 15K miles- is fairly rare. Most cars over 100K will need lots of love.. and money. Every car (no matter the miles) will have rotting rubber by now. Maintenance is expected. A file of repair receipts is worth it weight in gold, but rubber gets old.
Is it worth it to restore it? Well.... do it yourself... but how do you value your time? If you can do it yourself then your not likely reading this...... however, there is lots of on-line support. These cars are fairly simple for the garage mechanic, but they will demand attention. Mention Fiat and someone will say "Fix It Again Tony".. some of that is true. That's why if you have the money.. pay a pro to restore the car, or get lucky and find a freshly done car that the owner wants to sell.
Should I modify it? Fiats are much more common than Pinins.... by at least 20 to one. So it's a hard decision to make. I have added upgrade leather on mine and it really makes them a joy to own. But Collectors will always want to find factory original cars.
What makes them so special is the unique blend of 1960's with the added dash of modern.. not yet infected with soul-less technology of later cars.
If you decide to find one.. What color would you paint it? A ferrari color?
What are Factory colors? (Fiat had many more color options than Pininfarina did, I've seen Fiats with carpets in beige, black, blue, even red. Pininfarina kept their Spider simpler with less choices in interior colors and a few new exterior paint colors)
-- Azzurra Blue .. light metalic blue a popular color and it's called an Azzurra! - plus it's a ferrari color too.
-- Medio Blue ...a darker medium blue, a metal flake (shown below)
-- Grigio Argento ....Grey.. or a silver metal flake also seen on Ferrari
-- Rosso Amaryllis Metallizzato ... cinnamon colored metal flake a very popular color of the early 80's.. our 85.5 Page shows an image of this color on a car with a fence in the back round. This is the only color shown in the last Pininfarina catalog, we give you a peek at this color below (Amaryllis or Amarilli is a bulbous flower redish in color)
-- White... not metal flake
-- Marrone Metallizzato .... aka Maroon, more brown, metal flake (kinda rare)
-- Black (Negro)... not metal flake
-- Avorio (Ivory)... cream color not metal flake
-- Roso Cherry.... darker red, not metal flake, I'm told a rare color in USA.
-- Roso Vivo... Italian race car red. Not metal flake. The red car as seen on our home page is factory original. It has a touch of orange, but the color got a little less orange (and more black) each passing year. In sunlight it's red... inside fluorescent lights, it's orange. It's a hard color to duplicate. Some prefer a red that is less "period correct" and more modern red.. with more black added to pigment. The red car below is a nod to the original color, just a touch more black added.
-- Verde Scuro..... aka Dark Green
Some of these original colors seem dated now, and a growing number of dealers advise keeping the original color on your vintage car. But it's hard not to turn up the heat on these Spider's and change her hair color to something a little more .... Ferrari.
Carpet... best we can tell (unlike Fiats) you get 1) Brown flecked square weave or
2) Black. Yup. Those 2 choices. And thats it.
Flecked carpet shown on left.
Convertible Top colors... Beige or black, with some colors you had no choice from the factory. White cars, you get black tops. Black cars, ditto. Today you can replace the vinyl top with a nice water proof cloth top to add a bit of class. The red 85.5 below - in rotating photos - has a cloth top. See the link "features found on..." for more information, below.
Spider Specs: 124 Spider General Specifications for all post '80 Spider 2000 Models
Zero to 60 times, and other specifications of the 2000 Spider.
The Pininfarina factory.
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