The 1985.5 model was Sergio Pininfarina looking to punch above his own weight class. Porsche had retained it's classic design on the 911 model for almost 30 years. He wanted to expand his well established "Industrie Pininfarina" - a design and coach building business - into a full manufacture of continually advancing their own bespoke sports car.
His 1/2 price Stuttgart challenger was a re-fresh of the now 19 year old design. This time it had 50 new improvements like: Rack and Pinion steering, (borrowed from Maserati) also bigger brakes, bigger radiator, 120 MPH speedo, new cast wheels, and an improved cabin. Further was the paint process and interior lighting borrowed from the Ferrari's they were also making.
Less than 1200 cars were made world wide with only 186 Spiders making it into the USA. Most thru American servicemen in Italy.
The factory was keen on selling off what remained in bulk to US military officers as the dealers in the USA heard the GM would end the series because of The Cadillac Allante.
The Fiat Club of America were some of the few who cared or paid attention to how cool this rare car was. The 85.5 now listed for $20,000.oo that is about $45,500 in 2017 dollars. No longer aimed at the low end of the market, it's beauty is further enhanced.
The '85.5 was not just warmed over Fiats . No..... These are the best examples of 124 Spiders to wear the Pininfarina badge exclusively. But..... Good luck finding one.
The coin slot, and two shots of the locking compartments behind the back seats. (this car is factory original) Keeping a few valuables out of harms way, even today, not very common, yet common sense items for a convertible.
The Spiders Lampredi twin cam motor went on in other cars until 1995. "Fix It Again Tony's" motor was maligned as it had a 32 year production run..... one of the most successful engines in history. Read more below about the rarest sports car money can buy for under $100K
<-- The 85.5 still had the "Azzurra" sail logo on the trunk (boot) the name changed to "SpiderEuropa" by now The wheels (above) will get Spider fans running to get a look. Only used on the 85 1/2 model, cool cast aluminum alloy wheels are light and strong. The better to move you with , my dear. And unique to the 85.5 models in USA and Europe.
Rack and Pinion Steering replaces a worm 'n roller style. This is the big change of this model. (you could ad it to your 124 Spider if you chose, it makes a big difference. but is very expensive.) This was Sergio Pininfarina doing what seems counter-intuitive when a model doesn't sell.. make it more expensive. Even after adding 100 improvements to the Azzurra here is even more added improvements to this very rare 1985.5:
The rack and pinion steering was borrowed from the Maserati Biturbo. Rumors of an Abarth tuned engine had been knocked around but the cost really would send it into dangerous Porsche 911 territory.... a long way from it's original intention of competing with the British MG's (and it's 1966 price tag of $3995.00) Had General Motors not come around with buckets of money maybe we would have had another few years of "improvements" and a few more Pininfarina's to share.
The Cadillac Allante deal was an expample of the excesses that put GM into the poor house. GM had a special Boeing 747 built (the "Airbridge") to transport it's new "trendy" Italian made coaches back to detroit to be mated with the American made chassis and engine. A very long and very expensive assembly line. Good business move for Pininfarina, but no more room to make his pet Spider.
Ears for mirrors bring pinin fans to tears
This is the first tell it's an 85.5.. these wheels
This 85.5 was bought in Sweden. Northern Europe a big market for Spiders. Nice color. The wheels of course not original but a set of originals came with it. If you have wheels from an 85.5 please email me I have a buyer for you! We are buyers of anything 85.5
Sexy angles and curves on a very rare model sports car.
A few 85.5 Europa's found at Roadster Salon in Barrington Il. They have an Amazing selection at this time. I'd bet in three years people will wish they had gotten one. Pininfarina's greatest solo effort............ The 1985.5 Spider.
GM spends crazy amounts of money to get an Italian designed chassis from Pininfarina
Matching Pininfarina luggage set for '85.5. Have a set? I'm a buyer!
Dash with 3 screws...... only on the 85.5
The only 85.5 to be accepted by a major Concours. Sergio's favorite just can't get the respect it deserves. This is my car - first one on the field that day.
Improvements in 85.5 are highlighted. Items not found on just a 1985 model. 1) Fan Shroud 2) Cooling Reservoir.
Here is an interesting detail on the 85.5 car from Sweden. (above) The air dam has fog lights. We are not sure if this was standard in euro cars but likely an aftermarket ad on. Still... rather cool. Send us your 85.5 photos.
My 85.5 The first time a 124 Spider is excepted into a national level concours.
Many 85.5 cars had blanking plate covering the stereo hole. This is rather common in classic sports cars. But also giving the dealers a chance at selling something extra... a stereo.
Coin tray...... only on the 85.5
Sometimes called an '86 Model year adds confusion. The factory considered it an '85 as this factory postcard states: Versione '85 is the last year.
Original papers from an 85.5 Spider Europa, imported by an Army Captain via Frankfurt Germany.
Note The Pininfarina radio.
Gazing into the cockpit of a finely tuned Pinin Spider like the one above will cause anyone to ponder it's value compared to values of other brands. One must consider that uniquely these Pininfarina's were designed in '64.
Porsche prices were over double what the Pininfarina prices were...but: The 911 cars of 1967 had about 110 horsepower and front only discs. ($200K?) The same #2 911 convertible from '85 restored is maybe $85K? And they shipped how many? The Pininfarina is about design - thats what drives starry eyed buyers first and foremost ... how it make the heart flutter when you see it.
Inside an 85.5 Pininfarina Europa Spider. Note 3 spoke wheel, 3 screw dash, and logo on shift knob that is on some cars not others.
Pre and post restoration interiors.
An original Azzurra Blue 85.5 with only 5K miles
This is how most '85.5 models are found. Neglected and left to rot. These two cars are slated to get a full restoration, thankfully. Now imagine if these were a Porshe 356 .... you would expect a restoration cost of well over $150K. It's becoming apparent these cars are rare and cool, and to fans of Pininfarina design, better looking than the German car.. Not to mention faster, better brakes, more ponies than a 356 Porshe (also made 20 years later) But I digress...........
Values: Every week I get asked about the values of 85.5 model Spiders. Here in the US they are very hard to find. I know of 2 cars that sold in the past two years in good unrestored #3- condition at $40K (2016 sales) One would expect to put another $4 -$5K into these cars to make them safe to drive. But to get a restored car like the one in photo on the left (This car #1- in condition) You should expect to pay north of $60K
Neglected #4 - $12-$20K
Average #3 - $30 - $40
Clean restored #2 - $60 -$75K
Mint #1 condition car... who knows one has not yet come to market. But a full restoration to a #1 standard is north of $125K and you may have to find 2 cars to get all the parts needed. Considering only 186 cars made it into the USA.. and only 1200 made world wide.. AND that 1/2 of those are now gone?
Many of us 85.5 owners would love to see one come to auction to see what our beloved Spider would sell for... but many auction houses lump all 124 Spiders together and why risk it? An auction house estimates the very common 1978 -'79 eras being lumped together with uber rare 85.5. We wait for one brave soul to bring an 85.5 to auction. (Gooding & Co has a flat policy of "no, we will not consign any 124 Spiders"! Nada - zilch. Odd considering it's the only car to be badged a solely as a Pininfarina) Please let us know if you see one at auction!
Rare Pininfarina Spiders are Chick Magnets. ----->
Here is catalog shots of the '86 model year Pinin Spider. (The 85.5) Now called Spider Europa in every market. They were really raising the stakes on this 19 year old design. Note lack of standard air conditioning in these factory photos. Only a few cars - shipped into USA- came with air. BTW It's not too hard to install an earlier air conditioning unit should you be able to find an original one from a Fiat or a Pinin Azzurra. However they are only mildly effective.
You can see the unique coin tray and the standard wooden shift knob. I've seen original 85.5 cars with black leather shift knobs with the Pininfarina logo as well. Starting in '83 the crank shaft is changed to give slightly more RPM. Also note the 3 screw dash found only on the 85.5 models in lower right photo with the exclusive to this year 120mph speedo. (this photo is my restored car)
Better cooling. Exclusive of the 85.5 The larger radiator has it's overflow tank moved to the firewall (yellow plastic bottom left) This shows real commitment on Sergio Pininfarina's part to improve the 20 year old design. All signs show he was ready to double down and really improve his favorite design. Too bad General Motors threw bags of money at him. Note the factory original 4L stamp in white ink on the top of the radiator. Another clue to originality.
The locking compartments on the 1985.5 originally had a "bladder" inside. They are shown closed in bottom photo.. the top photo is with lid open, showing the bladder. The photo below is the light inside the cabin storage. Part of Sergio's continued upscale of the Spider is more courtesy lights everywhere.... Does this little light look familiar to you Ferrari owners?
Window Stamp from original 1985.5 --->
Here you can see the motor stamp. It was USA bound. A small detail to see if you found an original 85.5 (Motor stamps have be known to be replicated)
<---The 85.5 will always have the Square hood logo. The "F" plus the word Pininfarina spelled out in very small print underneath ------>
And how to spot these rarest model 124 Spiders.
Few people know of this last name change.... they have almost always been called Azzurras. Please note an 1985.5 has never been offered for sale in a "Cataloged Auction" before. None. Zero. Ever! They are just now getting excepted in the d'Elegance level Concours events, but values are hard to pin down as most every 85.5 is sold via restoration shop sale or a private sale.
It still says 2000 on the 85.5's
New owners: this is where the trunk key goes.
With the Windshield washer fluid reservoir now closer to windshield. (left) There is a space open near the radiator as shown.
This example an 85 1/2 but true on all Pininfarina Azzurra's. Catalog shot left, original 1985.5 car on right
Another exclusive feature on the 85.5 model is the door light in both doors. This is the exact same door light used on Ferrari up thru the 90's. Note the steel is indented to accommodate the light. A good quick way to see if you've found one (if say, the wheels are missing) The added lighting thru out this model (dash,doors,glovebox, trunk) is part of Sergio's upscale of this last model... another reason the 85.5 is unique.
<--- Freshened 1985.5 ... but no coin tray. But still... this lucky guy has an 85.5 Spider Europa you can tell at a glance by the 3 bolt dash.
Selling 85.5 parts? Please email us! This guy needs parts. We have buyers for 85.5 parts!
What's in a name?
maybe because it was thought to be "all new" or maybe because they were new to marketing they changed the name yet again for the 85.5.
Now the same name as the european cars, the Spider Europa still had the "sail" logo on the trunk.
The Azzurra name was named for a successful pinin designed yacht. Thus the sail logo. To the left is catalog shots of the 85.5. Looking quite upscaled with lots more courtesy lights for one.
Those exclusive locking compartments that used to be back seats, can be seen in action.
To the left is a 5000 mile "time machine". This is what an unused 1985.5 car looks like. Most cars interiors are worn out. A car that is clean outside came from the "no salt" south or western states... but the summer heat eats interiors. At some point you'll have to redo the leather and carpets. The car on the right is an 85 1/2 that had been restored by the best spider restoration team in the country. The also own the rare 85.5 car on the right. check out www.roadstersalon.com
Catalog shot also shows off vintage Pininfarina sunglasses. The two tone lambs wool seat covers are a Europe only option. They have the Pininfarina logo embroydered in them.
Here is an original paint 85.5 Pininfarina Spider Europa. This car came to the USA via a serviceman who was in the US Airforce in Germany. He bought it when it was new as a US spec car. (This is how most of these last Spiders came to USA. The owner who sent the photo was a bit hesitant as it was not cleaned up for photo... we think it looks great in its natural state.... ready to drive some more. Duke bought it 13 years ago. A great look with the black leather and Rosso Vivo red paint. What a great car... bought smartly when few were paying attention. Thanks Duke.
Please send more 85.5 Photos to share.
Tricky shades of red - Italian style. Each year the red Rosso Corsa or Rossa Viva paint on Fiat, Pininfarina's and other italian cars got a little less orange and a little closer to Cherry Red. This gets confusing because there is also the Cherry Red that many call Ferrari red. However... <----In the photo on the left the car in foreground (1984 model) is more orange and the car in back of photo (with the 85.5 wheels) has more black pigment added. This is true of Ferrari's in this same time period. Inside under fluorescent lights this progressively less orange hue becomes more obvious. The racing red color is more "vivid" by adding more orange. The other red color is Cherry Red seen mostly in Fiats... it's more black in it's hue.
The photo on the right shows a repaint to a darker red---> (closest car) Then original paint,(with pin stripe) then #3 is an 85.5 in correct red of time period. All of them are called Rosso Corsa or "racing red". Paint codes vary year to year, but the same name in the catalogs. This is a hard detail to capture if you care to get the original paint just right...... or not.
<----We'll reverse the image on the lower left. making it easier to see. Find the "Big Picture page" to see a great example of this cool color.
And to really highlight the point, we see this pre 74---> version in full Orange color once owned by our pal Danny from F.A.I.T. (see contacts page) These days it's quite tempting to re-spray a Spider in a more modern red. (Much easier to find a painter as well) But, I must say the original 1980's color really grows on you as it stands out. Plus, being true to the original color is becoming more important in terms of resale. Yesteryears prices it did not matter how close the color was just if the paint was well done. As prices rise original colors may matter more.
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