5k Genuine Miles: 1984 Pininfarina Azzurra

Don’t be fooled, because while this little car might look like a Fiat Spider, it isn’t. This car is one of around 3,500 American-export cars manufactured by Pininfarina between 1982 and the end of 1985. It is in striking condition and would be perfectly suited to the person hunting for a beautiful Italian sports car. I really have to thank Barn Finder Pat L for referring this beautiful car through to us. Located in Van Nuys, California, you will find the Azzurra listed for sale here on Craigslist. The owner is asking $19,000 for the Italian classic.

The Azzurra is finished in a beautiful shade of silver called “Grigio Argento.” The presentation is extremely impressive, and this is no doubt due to the facts that not only has the car spent its life in California, but it was only in active use with its original owner for 1 year before it went into storage. Today, it has covered a mere 5,000 original miles. The paint presents beautifully, and the car is said to be completely rust-free. The only visible flaws that I can pick are what looks like a pair of very small dents just behind the door on the passenger side (or it could just be some sort of reflection), along with some wear around the bows of the original top. Otherwise, it looks as though the car has just rolled off the showroom floor.

Unlike the original Fiat version, the Azzurra is strictly a 2-seater. Where the rear seat originally was is now a luggage shelf, with metallic strips to protect the carpeted surface. The cream leather upholstery looks absolutely beautiful, as does the brown, square-weave carpet. There are no problems or visible issues to note inside the car, while luxury and comfort extends to a leather-wrapped Pininfarina wheel, a Pioneer radio/cassette player, and power windows.

Powering the Azzurra is a 1,995cc DOHC fuel-injected Fiat 4-cylinder engine, backed by a 5-speed manual transmission. With 105hp on tap, the Azzurra is not going to be lightning-fast, but that little twin-cam engine does sound glorious with a few revs on board. After sitting for 35-years, there was some work required to bring the Pinin back to life. This included going through the fuel system from end-to-end, while the brakes received similar treatment. The car runs and drives well now, but the owner has only used it on a fairly limited basis. He says that before the little Italian is used on a regular basis, the rear shocks will either need to be rebuilt or replaced, while the original tires should also be replaced.

This is a beautiful looking little car, and to find a Spider that is original and rust-free is a rare treat. The low mileage on this example is a bonus, as is the inclusion of the original Owner’s Manual and Window Sticker. The owner quotes a Hagerty valuation on the car, but looking at recent sales results is always going to be a better indication of the car’s potential value. The low import and survival numbers means that the market doesn’t get flooded with cars, and prices of between $15,000 and $20,000 seem to be about the norm. The fact that this is a rust-free and original example with such low mileage should push it towards the top end of those figures. Therefore, the asking price might even be considered to be slightly lower than market expectations. With that information in mind, do we have any readers who would like to park this little Italian classic in their garage?

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Comments

  1. Db

    Um, while this is a nice car, its still just a fiat. These were notoriously poor running cars, pinnafarina put their name on everything back then, they put there name on the cadillac allante and a chrysler lebaron for gods sake, this isnt a 20k car, 5-8 thousand at best.

    3
    • OhU8one2

      While I really like the car and colors work very well, the asking price puts it out of reach for me.

      3
    • SubGothius

      Pininfarina designed this car and actually built them throughout their entire run, even when they came badged as Fiats, and they also designed and built the Allante — in fact, Spider production only ceased when they had to free up production capacity to start making the Allante. Not sure what Lebaron you could mean, unless you’re thinking of the similar-looking Chrysler TC by Maserati, which had nothing to do with Pininfarina in name or otherwise.

      As for “poor running”, I’ll concede that US mechanics accustomed to wrenching Detroit iron were often challenged to maintain these properly, and their late-’70s desmogging treatment for the US market did them no favors, but when properly maintained these engines are a sweet-sounding, torquey and rev-happy jewel, and from ’80-onward they got Bosch L-jet fuel injection, which made them stone reliable and restored much of their power and flexible drivability.

      9
    • Brakeservo

      Haha – I sold these when were new. The reason for the low miles – never ran well enough/long enough!

      I’d rather buy one with 105,000 miles (if any exist) than 5000 miles because with miles comes the fixes for the inherent defects!

    • Fioravanti

      WOW, this is an embarrassingly uninformed comment. Pininfarina designed and built this car. The Cadillac mentioned was also designed and built by Pininfarina. They never did anything with a Lebaron. Pininfarina is a legendary design house and does not do badge engineered American type vehicles.

      Inaccurate information shouldn’t be allowed to be posted.

      1
  2. Classic Steel

    So like the regular version will these too have-engine fires and burn to the-ground?

    Ironically I have met two prior owners have had this happen in my lifetime.

    Maybe for car safety one might put a fire extinguisher within the car .

    They are very good looking cars .

    2
    • Kevin Harper

      I have owned and been around Fiat 124’s for close to 40 years. I have heard of faults but I don’t know of a single one that ever had an engine fire. I guess it could happen but that is definitely not a frequent fault

      17
      • Classic Steel

        Your comments on engine fires means your 🍀 licky 👍👀
        https://www.automobilemag.com/news/collectible-classic-1968-1985-fiat-124-spider/


        Everyone’s got a Fix It Again Tony story. (FIAT, get it?) A sometimes cautionary, often humorous, and always sad tale involving a friend, sibling, or father who brought home a brand-new Fiat decades ago only to be subjected to years of breakdowns, engine fires, and other mishaps until the car finally put the owner and itself out of their mutual misery by rusting into the ground. Such woe-ridden stories have given Fiats their Rodney Dangerfield status in the U.S., where these cars just don’t get no respect.“

        4
      • Josh Mortensen Josh Mortensen Staff

        I’ve not had any mechanical or electronic issues with my Spider, it runs like a top. I think the problem here in the States was that they required more maintenance than the typical American car. Most of the horror stories I’ve heard could have been prevented just by having the timing belt replaced on time. If you weren’t use to having to doing a timing belt every 30k, I can see how it would get overlooked. Then when it broke and totaled the engine, it was obviously the car’s fault.
        My car actually has a replacement 2.0l engine because the previous owner didn’t get the belt changed on time. It had just passed 62k miles went the belt snapped and one of the pistons got to know the valves real well. Had they changed the belt, it would probably still have its original engine. So I guess that actually worked out nicely for me!

        16
      • Kevin Harper

        No sorry, Not lucky at all. Fiat’s have some faults but engine fires is not one of them. Let me be more specific I have worked on Fiats driven hundreds of them and know them really well, and I have tons of customers that friends that have owned them through the years. I have owned Fiat’s with the twin cam, Lancia’s and even a Morgan with this same motor. The carburetor sits on one side of engine and the distributor and exhaust are on the opposite. This pretty much eliminates the issue of engine fire that you would have on say something like a lotus where the carbs sit over the distributor or a lot of british cars where the intake sits over the exhaust. There is one line in and one line out of the carb and they are far away from anything that would cause a fire.
        Also on this particular car it is Bosch FI, vs the one in the article which is Carbed. Bosch FI by yeah that German car company that basically put the same FI system on everything and you can swap a lot of parts of the FI car with a BMW of a similar year and I don’t know of BMW having any problems of Fire with it.
        To suggest this shows your incompetence and you are basically just parroting something you heard from someone, as typical. Most of the problem with Fiats is that they are low priced cars and people took them to hack mechanics or butchered them themselves. If you get the proper mechanic or learn to do it properly yourself they are pretty bullet proof cars. They are much better than the cars coming out of GB that they were competing against

        21
    • Edwin Hiinsdale

      I worked at a dealership that sold these and the ‘Bertone’ X19. We ended up with a new ‘parts car’ cannibalized to keep one we sold on the road for nearly a year as the distributor was unable to get parts. Good times!

      1
    • Fioravanti

      I’ve been involved with these and other beautiful Italian cars all my life. Met many, many hundreds of owners, worked on and restored many of the cars and I can tell you this is an ignorant and misleading comment. The Spider is no more likely to “burn to the ground” than any other old car. In fact, many of these old cars had a fuel pump shut off via the oil pressure switch that cut power to the fuel pump. That’s even with carbureted cars.

      I’ve never met any owner of a Spider that had an engine fire. Anyone’s car that catches fire is 100% due to lack of maintenance, poor quality mechanics work or non-OEM parts. This goes for any car.

      I can’t believe the amount of ignorant comments being posted.

      2
  3. Streakjerry

    Wish it was a 124 Coupe. Now those were rare . Especially one where the floor pan and sides weren’t rusted apart.

    1
    • Little_Cars Little_Cars

      Had the pleasure of driving a nicely preserved 124 3p Coupe on a club drive sometime last year. Nimble, responsive, rust free and tight. Spent the day in it, and enjoyed it immensely with one exception. The guy I borrowed it from used the wrong non-sleeved lug nuts and my front wheels loosened themselves twice. My passenger/navigator was wise enough to pack one of those universal lug wrenches in an emergency kit and we only lost about 15 minutes of road time with the gang.

      1
  4. grant

    A 124 Spider by any other name will rot the same.

    2
    • Kevin Harper

      Actually No. The mid range Fiats are the worst for rusting, 74 to 79. Earlier ones will rust but not as bad as the midrange, and the later ones built after 1980 actually have decent rust proofing. They will rust if you drive them on salt covered roads or leave the parked on damp leaves for long periods of time, but they are actually pretty good at not rusting

      8
  5. Kevin Harper

    Pretty clean car. Make sure maintenance is done up to snuff and that the timing belt has been changed in the past 3 years.
    Money wise this one will probably make close to 19k. I have had two nice ones come through the shop recently one was a 82 and the other a 85.5. The 82 pulled 18 and the 85.5 which was immaculate pulled 24k.
    Fun cars for the Fall.

    5
  6. BarnfindyCollins

    I was wondering when one of these would turn up here. I had a friend that had two of these; a red ’84 with 5,000 miles and a beige one. After he died his daughter parked them outside under a tree along with a 26k mile Scorpio. The red one had a big limb fall on the rear of the car and looks like a parts car. As of a year ago those 3 cars were sitting at a 95 year old retired Alfa, Fiat, Triumph mechanics house.

    2
  7. JBD

    Great Time Capsule Find- these cars were simple and easy to work on. They didn’t deserve the reputation. They are quite collectible and should appraise for more in the coming years!

    2
  8. Andrew Franks

    The price is absurd. I’m starting to get irritated at prices based on mileage and nothing else. Yes, it’s a nice car. But not At that price. I don’t care about Hagerty or any other so called experts in the Hobby.

    2
  9. Chuck

    A Fiat by any other name is still a Fiat.

    1
  10. Tim

    I have owned two 124 spiders, with proper maintenance they were good driving cars. Considering the price it should not need any fixing like shocks and top. Just a little pricey for what you are getting.

  11. arizman2

    I have had several Fiat 124’s. I raced one in the SCCA showroom stock series and held the lap record at Seattle International Raceway. I also autocrossed extensively and took many top time of the day trophies, my buddy with a 454 corvette was overwhelmed with consternation when I waxed him on several occasions. Eventually I ventured into E production, upgrading he motor with the twin downdraft IDF webbers, cams, 11:1 compression pistons and a lot of suspension modifications along with a limited slip diff. The car was a joy and I never suffered any mechanical or fire issues

    5
  12. Graham Line

    Worked with these for several years. As Josh says, the biggest problem was failure to replace the cam belt at 30K. That failure was a guaranteed overhaul.
    Another issue was mechanics unable or too lazy to figure out how to set the valve clearances. The third problem was home mechanics trying to wire in stereo decks and extra speakers. Rust wasn’t a problem in our high desert area.
    Parts supply from Fiat was terrible. Waited close to a month once for a ’72 oil pan.The cars themselves were a lot of fun.
    The engine fires were the VW 411/412.

    3
  13. Danh

    I’m a huge Pininfarina fan but why would anyone spend almost $20k on a rebadged 124? Everyone is going to see a Fiat 124 when you you drive by and you’ll try to convince yourself, till the end of time, that is is a “Pininfarina Azzurra”.

    1
    • SubGothius

      Anyone who would care already knows darn well it’s a 124 and doesn’t actually care. The badging isn’t some pretense, just a simple fact that Fiat had pulled out of the US market in ’82 and canceled their Spider production contract with Pininfarina. At that time, Malcolm Bricklin saw ample demand remained for the Spider and X1/9 in the US market, so he contracted Pininfarina and Bertone, respectively, to continue production under their own badging, with numerous and ongoing improvements over the earlier Fiat-badged models. They just couldn’t legally market them as Fiats anymore, as Fiat’s only involvement by then was supplying the powertrains.

      6
  14. RLH

    I have owned an 82 124 Spider 2000 for over a decade. Bought w/16k, now has 20k. List of faults is a very short list – due to damp climate more than anything else. Have replaced the ignition switch due to oxidation and clean the fuel pump spade terminals annually. Great running and handling car. BTW- I have read the Azzurra was Fiat’s hail mary for the last 124’s destined for the states. Earlier models no longer met US crash test standards – Fiat renamed to slip them in the door one last year.

  15. Keith E. Matheny

    Yes, low mileage is good. but only the 85.5 cars with the RnP steering are worth this much, in my humble opinion.
    PnF used coated metal in the outer rails after about 76 or so. BUT, FIAT never used the trans from the 131, a much more sturdy box available after 76!
    (had 124 one rebuilt every 20k or so for years, the 131 box ,,,never!)
    FIAT, the General Metals of Europe!

  16. T-BONE BOB

    I have a good friend who rescued a rare black on black 85.5. Gorgeous car. She won’t drive it if there is even the hint of moisture in the air.

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