Never Been Fixed: 1984 Pininfarina Azzurra

By Nathan Avots-Smith

Quick: when is a Fiat not a Fiat? When it’s a Pininfarina Azzurra, of course! (Bertone X1/9 gets you credit, too, smartypants). After Fiat gave up the ghost on the U.S. market, it turned its aging but still popular 2000 (née 124) Spider over to coachbuilder Pininfarina, which got three more years out of the old gal; dating from the middle of those three years, this ’84 Azzurra has but 4,947 miles on the odometer. Barely broken in—but don’t worry, there is still plenty of Fiat in it and it’s still plenty broken after sitting for 30 years—it could be yours for just $8,500 and a trip to Annapolis, Maryland. Check it out here on craigslist (or go here if the original ad disappears).

The switch from Fiat to Pininfarina badging in 1983 came with a more than $4,000 price hike and some additional standard equipment. Some have claimed that there was also a switch to higher-quality steel for the bodywork, but since Pininfarina had been building the bodies for Fiat all along, I doubt this. It also saw the Spider offered in Europe for the first time since 1975. This Azzurra has been parked in the garage of the original owner since it was nearly new, and apparently couldn’t even be pushed out for photos. The seller assures us that “no one with mechanical knowledge would dare try to start it without tearing it down and cleaning it up first” (emphasis added), which sounds a bit extreme to me for a sub-5,000 mile car, but then I’ve never owned an Italian car.

Here’s the Lampredi-designed 1,995-cc inline four, unchanged from its Fiat spec and good for 102 horsepower when new. The car is said to have been parked only because the current seller’s husband died, not due to any problem with the car itself, so with so few miles, it may never have had the intimate acquaintance of a Fiat mechanic that so characterized the brand. Sad!

Chalk it up to tight quarters in the garage, I guess, but this (and a closeup of the speedometer) is all we get to see of the interior. There doesn’t seem to be any major cause for concern about how this car has been stored for lo, these many years, but it would be nice to have more and better documentation of its condition. The thing only weighs 2,400 pounds! Push it out of the garage and let it see some light!

NADA lists low retail value for an ’84 Azzurra as $8,800, making the $8,500 ask for this non-running but super-low mileage, all-original example seem more or less in line (although again, that is a retail value, not private-party). After 30 years of inactivity, there will likely be plenty for the Tony of legend to fix—although at this mileage, likely for the first time!

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Comments

  1. Josh Mortensen Josh Mortensen Staff

    I doubt the engine will need a full rebuild, it will probably just need to have the fuel system flushed and a new timing belt installed. Turn the engine over by hand before offering the owner any money, just to make sure the timing belt didn’t fail. These are interference engines and a failed belt is a big problem, so as long at the engine turns by hand without hitting any of the valves, it should be good to go. Just make sure to install a new belt before attempting to start it. Once you have it running, it will be a blast to drive! The convertible top is fantastic, the exhaust note is great and the 2.0 liter has tons of performance potential if you decide you need more power. Oh and one last tip, check the shock towers for rust. I’ve had to replace a fair amount of metal on my 124 Spider and most areas have actually been pretty easy to repair, but the shock towers are pretty difficult to do. They do make replacement metal though for just apart every inch of these cars. This one looks solid, but check in the out of sight areas.

    10+
    • Scott

      The early engines were interference, but by the time they got to the 2L engine, I don’t believe that was an issue anymore.

      4+
      • paul

        Pretty sure the 2l engine is an interference design. Very little changed from the original design through the years aside from displacement.

        1+
    • Eric

      Josh – where do you buy metal panel parts for your 124?

      Cheers!

      0
      • Josh Mortensen Josh Mortensen Staff

        I’ve gotten panels from a couple different places. The car came with one panel when I bought it, but I can’t remember the name of the company it came from. The other panels I’ve gotten from Vick Autosports and eBay. There are quite a few really good parts suppliers now and prices for repair patches have gone way down.

        0
  2. Bob

    I agree with Josh. Turn it over by hand, and if it is free it is worth buying.

    0
  3. Tim

    These are really not hard cars to work on. As Josh said turn it over by hand. Replace the timing belt I would also replace the tensioner and idler pulley if they feel dry and/or rough or loud sounding. Change the oil in the engine, tranny and the diff. Replace the rubber brake hoses ( as the swell shut over time) and flush the system. For an Italian car they are fun and easy to work on.

    With 100hp 2400 lbs, 4 wheel disc brakes, coil springs, dual over head cams and a quite rubber timing belt. A soft top that takes 5 seconds to drop while sitting in the drivers seat what’s not to love. To top it all off if I remember correctly the 84 and 85 had rack and pinion steering.

    Fun car all around, from working on them to driving them. They are a nice fun affordable classic.

    2+
    • davery

      Only the late in the year 85’s had rack and pinion, commonly refereed to as 85.5. And I would discourage putting the top down while sitting in the drivers seat. That is what causes the seat backs to bend.

      0
    • paul

      Ya ~ back in the day I had a ’71 that I first raced in SCCA in the “showroom stock” class in SCCA, had the lap record at Seattle International. Later, I upgraded the motor with 10.5 : pistons, camshafts and the twin 40IDF carbs that came on the car in europe and ran it in F production class, car did not fare as well in F production, the MG’s had the upper hand on me. In autocoss, the car was great. Before I put the carbs on, running with the single stock webber, it put down 125hp at the rear wheels, not bad for 1608cc. I still have it, been sitting on a farm out in the arizona desert since 1995. I just picked up a ’76 for parts and plan to get it running again.

      5+
      • Josh Mortensen Josh Mortensen Staff

        Awesome Paul! Keep us posted on your progress!

        0
  4. Randy Member

    Think that’s rust in the windshield/firewall areas, and passenger side hood bubble? Hard to tell from the pics.

    0
  5. Wagon master

    I don’t know …. sure seems like a lot of grime on the reservoir bottles and such for under 5k miles from new. I’ll bet you it’s turned over once.

    1+
  6. Nick G.

    While I agree with some of the comments concerning getting this car to run, I would say that squirting oil or “liquid wrench” type fluid in the cylinders is as important. My Plymouth with a slant 6 had sat longer than I realized before I bought it. I believe the people I bought it from just firing it up and drove to their lot. I got a couple of hundred miles before the rings broke apart. I can’t say for sure if more prep before starting the long-standing would have prevented my situation but it cam probably help a lot of times.
    Also, it would be too hard to take the head off too to check the dual cams for gunk.
    Small amount of work to do to avoid a rebuild.

    0
    • paul

      Piece O’cake, remove two bolts on each cover and the cam covers come right off revealing the camshafts. Then, suck out any old oil (gunk) sitting there and lube the cams / valve buckets and put the cam covers back on.

      1+
  7. Fritz T.

    Nope. Not gonna do it…wouldn’t be prudent

    2+
  8. chad

    Loved the 3 or 4 124 spyders (& 1 sedan) we had. Cried when they left USA (then went out’n got a Lancia Beta Coupe). Ahhh, the 70s & 80s…

    0
  9. Andrew Franks

    If i remember correctly i had a 69 or 70, drove it from LA to San Francisco, back down to LA used it as a daily driver there. Loved every minute of it. Jump on it.
    i would but don’t have the room.

    0
  10. DonC

    My 1982 was a 2000 and a Pininfarina. And yes, if the timing belt goes, you have massive trouble. I bought mine in 1985, did all my own work, and sold her last year to an Aussie. Personally, the price is way too high for a non running model. Low mileage but long years means dry gaskets and seals too, especially differential (and is it a Spanish or Italian differential?) the ones from Spain are crap. I loved my “Farina”, awesome, stylish, fun! But there’s plenty still out there. I’d bid maybe $6000 assuming the body is sound.

    0
    • paul

      I obtained a limited slip diff for mine. I hoped it would get rid of the wheel spin in autocross when exiting a turn. The locker was a disaster as it introduced massive understeer.. the rear had so much grip that it just pushed the nose in a straight line…

      0
  11. Jeff Brown

    A Fiat is also not a Fiat when it is a (1936-1948) Simca licensed Topolino!

    0
    • Nathan Avots-Smith Staff

      Good point! Lots of licensed Fiats out there—SEAT, Lada…even (kind of) Yugo!

      0
  12. Mary

    No it is not rust at the fire wall it is dirt and leaves. I was looking into this car and it has a salvage title. So it is a no-go for me. you could make some $$$ on parting it out perhaps, but there are a lot of states that will not let you operate a salvaged car on the roadways. And good luck trying to find a reputable insurance company to insure it. Once salvaged, always salvaged, ain’t no way getting around it.

    0

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