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ajduclos
Intermediate Driver

Pininfarina Window Wisdom

A couple days ago, after a mid-May overnight rain, I went outside in the early morning to discover that I must have left the Dodge Dakota's driver's side window down, resulting in significant wetness on the seat and carpets. I opted to open all other windows and doors to help air-dry the mess.

Shortly after noon, with rain threatening again, I decided to close up the truck up but found the driver's side window would not obey commands from the switch - it would not go up. Looking more closely, the top of the glass was nowhere to be seen, lost in the bowels of the door cavity. I had not forgotten to raise the window - the window had failed and dropped out of sight. So panic struck - I must seal up that gaping window chasm, now, before those dark foreboding clouds burst !!!

Our trash bags were tried but were too small. Nothing larger to be found. "Cling Plus" for food preservation was my only alternative. Such a joy, with all its storm wind driven difficulties, twisting and sticking to itself but, alas, not to the truck door window frame. So it would seem I grew a third hand in hopes of installing the flimsy quarrelsome clear plastic with duct tape. After much effort, assisted by copious cursing, three strips of “Cling Plus” produced a sort of rain barrier.

Thanks to the very helpful local garage, my urgent need for repairs were accommodated as they scheduled me in for 1:30pm today. They made room in their busy schedule for me. This will not be forgotten.

So today, this morning, before the Dakota window appointment, I opted to bring our beloved old sports car back to life, to ready the Pininfarina for this season's fun top down drives. After getting her battery all maintained, charged and installed, after verifying all fluids are up and correct as are the tire pressures, even the digital clock... after a long winter's nap, a turn of the key brought her to life. Out of the shop and up to the driveway we rolled.

There, I used my California Duster to spiff her up a bit and the special windshield washer stuff, a gift from my good friend Stuart, to make the windshield seem to vanish. I next removed all the over-winter-storage anti-mouse Bounce sheets and peppermint teabags... a double hand full, to the trash.

But there were many unsightly bug and tar spots on the front and hood, plus some weird tar or grease like streaks and splotches (not sure from what) along the right side, from the fender onto the passenger door and rear quarter and all along the rocker panel. To the rescue for all of this was another gift from Stu, "Bike Spirits - Spray Cleaner and Polish", and voila, without a whole lot of effort most everything came off and left the old girl looking 97% better !!!!! Sweet.

 

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So, a sunny 68 degree day simply demanded a short test cruise. Jen took a bit of convincing, but nonetheless, at 11:30am off we went. Within a couple of miles we both commented how much we like this old beat-up Italian. I said that I always forget how amazing it is to drive this sweet set of wheels, pure joy and simplicity all while being whisked along gripping the road like a go-cart. Jen looked over at me and said "the Spider is so way more cool than the Benz".............. Yup, so true, and no offense to our wonderful SLK – hope “Silky” wasn't listening.

And now the "fun" part. After an excellent 25 mile cruise, about 4 miles from being back to the farm, a malevolent grey cloud positioned itself directly above us and proceeded to spring a significant leak. We pulled over to the side of the road and quickly got the top put back up and secured, raised the infamous turtle-slow power windows and got back to driving home with the interior just somewhat wet. At least the windshield wipers worked well, and the rain beaded up on the cleaned and polished hood.

In less than a mile, well before we reached the farm, the rain stopped and a bright sun returned to shine on our misty dripping Spider.

I put her away back in the shop. In those last two miles most of the water had blown off the exterior or evaporated. But the inside still remained a damp issue. So I lowered the power windows... in reality the passenger side lowered slowly but happily, but the driver's side door window refused to do anything. So I fiddled with the switch, to no avail. As I was about to give up and scream "this is the year of power window failures" I tried the switch one more time - Voila !!!! Miracles !!!! It lowered.

I turned on the shop's industrial exhaust fan and left the scene of the crime. I fully hoped that all the rushing air would properly dry out the interior and any under body parts in need of desiccation.

Most probably I will be cleaning the roadster again prior to the next outing.

On a good note, I picked up the Dakota at 3:30pm from the repair shop and all is well and surprisingly reasonably priced at $268 !!!!!! Thank you Rowe's Garage and Auto Sales.

What happens next with this pretty rare 1985.5 Pininfarina Spider's power windows is anyone's guess. But it doesn't really matter. We will continue our carefree cruises, safe in the knowledge that Pininfarina wisely included a manual crank in its tool kit should the power windows fail.

 

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Dodge could take a lesson.



"The best laid schemes o' mice an' men gang aft a-glee" – Robert Burns





21 REPLIES 21
Sajeev
Community Manager

All's well that ends well!  Thanks for sharing, that was a fun story and sounded like a good weekend! 

ajduclos
Intermediate Driver

Thank you, Sajeev.   A bit tense in the midst of it all, but like you say "All's well that ends well."   And I'm not sure how I forgot, but 8 months ago our Benz SLK also had power window issues - would have been fun to weave that into the tale as well.  The power window gods have been testing me !!!!!!!!!! 

Sajeev
Community Manager

Hey if you only had power window problems on that SLK you did really, really well! 🙂 

ajduclos
Intermediate Driver

With 67,000 miles, the SLK continues to be just fine, other than a few well known interior cosmetic issues.  Are you aware of any specifics I should be paying attention to, in addition the very complicated folding top?

Sajeev
Community Manager

Oh they are great cars, provided they receive all their servicing by qualified mechanics.  SLKs and most all Mercedes (sold in America, not the basic fleet vehicles they sell in Europe) are very durable and reliable if they are maintained thoroughly. 

deckerbilt
Intermediate Driver

My 2001 SLK has over 160k miles and is doing fine. Curious about the "well known interior cosmetic issues".

ajduclos
Intermediate Driver

   The early SLKs, 1997 up to 2001, have interior finish issues.  The plastic painted surfaces like the glove box and console and other bits would sort of fade and rub off, leaving those things looking pretty ratty with the actual plastic showing through.  That's what I'm dealing with.

   I've bought a refinished glove box for mine.  You can also get refinishing materials, but in my case the glove box is broken so a new one is needed. 

   I bought this one owner SLK last summer.  I think the previous owner must of had a big dog banging around inside my car, explaining some broken plastic.  Also found fairly long tufts of dog hair caught here and there.

   I've read that by 2001 Mercedes had fixed that interior finish issue, so I suspect you are just fine.

 

DUB6
Technician

   I love the Pininfarina story.  And the pics reminded me of one of my favorite rides.  I once had a 1980 Fiat 2000 Spider, which I drove like it was a Ferrari most of the time.  I'd been told that Fiats were famous for oil leaks, but this one never left so much as a drop on my driveway.  I absolutely loved zipping around in that little red speedster - except, of course, when it was cold and snowy.  It was generally garaged all winter, since it had next to no heater and the defroster was worthless.

   While at the Champ Car races in Portland one spring, and in a weak moment, I sold the car to a guy for some cash and a plane ticket home.  I missed it immediately, and have kicked myself a zillion times ever since.  About 2 days after I got home, I sent him a letter saying, "Congratulations on your purchase of a genuine Pininfarina Sports Car - upon receipt of an additional $6000, I will forward you the signed title and all of the original badging, with which you can replace the Fiat badges on the car, thus revealing to the world the true value of the fine automobile you are driving."  (or some-such rot, you get the gist)

   In a few days, he called me and told me that if I didn't send him the title to that Fiat, he'd sue me, and that he wasn't amused by my ruse...

   And now, I've kicked myself a zillion and one times.

ajduclos
Intermediate Driver

Now that is truly a great story, DUB6, and well written as are all your writes.

I've driven and/or owned many cars through my days and I still maintain that this Pininfarina Spider is simply the best and most fun of them all.  And such a timeless design.

In 1970 I saw my first Fiat Spider and fell madly in love.  Back then I didn't have a pot to piss in, but I said someday I will own one of those.  Then 2006 came and I found her on the side of the road with a for sale sign on her on that said in large flashing neon letters "I AM FOR YOU, DUKE"... and I couldn't resist.  I finally had my dream sports car.

Sure, there are faster, tighter, smoother, prettier, more refined cars out there, but none, not a one, seems to have packaged so much of it all into one reasonable priced roadster.  There is no car I prefer to drive than my Spider.

I'm the second owner, and quite possibly the last, at least while I'm on the planet.

ajduclos
Intermediate Driver

Oops - Actually, it was in 2006, not 2016, that I found my dream car... and I edited the year in the post above.

DUB6
Technician

That's an amazing parallel to my infatuation with the little convertible.  I don't remember the year, but I saw a steel grey one on a lot once, and was immediately smitten by its lines and stance.  I vowed I'd own one "someday" - but like you, I had no scratch at the time, so missed out on the one I lusted after.  Years later, I saw the little red one on another lot, and although it was January, I had to have it.  The tan top was a little worn, but otherwise it was in great shape, and I wasn't planning on it being a "top-up" car anyway.  It was intended to be - and certainly was - a "burnt-the-top-of-my-head-but-had-a-blast" vehicle.  Nothing even approaching practical, but about as much fun on a mountain highway as this Idaho boy had ever had, short of a honkin' big motorcycle.  Somewhere in our old photo albums I have several shots of it taken that next summer after it was all shined up.  I'll have to dig and see if I can find them to post in this string.

ajduclos
Intermediate Driver

Definitely an amazing parallel.  The one I saw in 1970 was new on a dealers lot, a light blue with a black top - I was instantly infected with the Italian virus.  The red one with the ratty black top I stumbled onto 36 years later on the side of the road was perfect underneath, nice on the outside and a bit rough inside... but none of that mattered, especially the top.  I just had to have it, period. 

A short discussion, money exchanged and I drove my baby back home... and never looked back. 

Just point me up a curvy hilly road and I'll eventually return smiling and sunburned.  But these days I always wear a hat to save my dome.

Roxton
New Driver

That exactly like my 85 1/2 Pininfarina that I sold to a collector in Michigan about 10 or so years ago. Mine was missing the passenger side rear bumper rubber just as this one seems to appear in the pictures. The hood panel gap even seems to be the same. If this seems even remotely possible, contact me as I have all the history on this car. restored85@yahoo.com

ajduclos
Intermediate Driver

   Hey, Roxton - It is not the same car that you had.  I bought it here in Maine from a former serviceman who had been stationed in Germany in 1985-86.  He bought it from a special deal that Pininfarina was using to empty its inventory of Spiders as it ramped up collaborative production of GM's Cadillac Allante.   It was an American spec car.  He had it shipped back to the states when his tour was up and had it until I bought it in 2005 or 2006 - I'd have to look up the date to exactly sure.

   So I'm the 2nd owner.

   And the right rear bumper rubber is still there, but the angle of the photo does not show it.

   I love this sweet Italian.  I bet you miss yours.  A twin to mine, it would seem, and pretty rare as well as only about 175 of those upgraded American spec 1985.5 spiders made it to the States. 

   Do you by any chance know where your former spider is these days?  It would be fun know what's up with it now.

   I bet you have some interesting memories and stories about your time with that sweet Italian.  I'd love to read some.

   Thanks for the post. 

Flatman
New Driver

My 1970 124 Spyder had manual windows but my driver side window regulator broke in 1972 - the part took six months to arrive so my choice was window up or window down. This was Chicago so it was window up even with the top down. The install at Imperial Motors featured broken glass and a torn seat from the screwdriver of the installer which just happened to be in his back pocket. Ah yes - the glorious days of Fiat ownership. Great car spoiled by truly incompetent factory and dealership support. 

Roxyred
New Driver

It’s really common for the power switches to get finicky, and it’s also super easy to clean them. If you want some pics and to chat about the process, shoot an email rmflcdenver@gmail.com

ajduclos
Intermediate Driver

Info and/or photos about cleaning the PW switches would be cool - thanks for the offer.  It would be a good thing to do.

The main issue in this old spider is the known problem of the PW tracks getting dirty making the raising and lowering of the window terribly slow, even stopping altogether.  Lately I need to assist the windows by pulling up on them or pushing them down.  I've definitely got to take the door panels off and clean the tracks.

Thanks.

avideo
Intermediate Driver

My 1966 Corvette convertible's power windows have always worked just great during our 14+ years of ownership. I'm especially pleased by the fact that the side windows appear to be the original window glass installed by the Corvette factory. In fact, the passenger side window still has the original factory Chevrolet "Air Conditioned" decal on it !

hyperv6
Technician

Italian cars will be Italian car. 

Our Fiat beater was a car that failure was an option. Timing belts need at low mikes and if missed bent valves. 

The dash had a throttle knob. Pull it out and it would run 70 mph. We called it Italian cruise control. 

Wheels did not fit conventional tire machines etc. 

 

While it had a lot of faults and oddities we beat the crap out of the car and it just kept on running. 

We learned the art of clutch less shifting and the transmission lived. We ran the car on motorcycle trails and mud but it kept running. Only a pile of snow that had ice frozen underneath felt the final blow. Even then the unibody flexed but it kept running. 

Italian cars hold the best and worst of the auto industry so it all balances out. 

DUB6
Technician

   This is totally off the original subject of the thread, but it seems like a good place to comment on some more Fiat experience.  In 1971, I bought a 1970 Fiat 850 Sedan.  The U.S. saw very few sedans - most 850s were either the sport coupes or Spider convertibles.  I was intrigued by the "different" look of the sedan.  It actually was as small or smaller than a VW Beetle, but had more room inside.  Since I was 6'3" and around 250, that room was important to me.

   The car was really very fun to drive.  As there were still "free" junkyards in those days, I was lucky to find some coupes and spiders to scavenge performance things like better suspension and disc brakes, tranny gear ratios, steering boxes, header, carb, etc.  After putting Michelins and Mini-Lites on it, it really handled like a sports car.  I think I put four different paint jobs on it, and two re-upholsters.  Rebuilt the engine twice - put a gazillion miles on it.  Brought my newborn oldest son home from the hospital in it, it was his first car when he turned 16, and was finally given to a cousin who was down on his luck and needed transportation.  I never did find out what he did with it, and he's long-since dead, so I never will.

   I'm not exactly sure, but I think I owned that car for about 30 years +/-, and frankly, I'd still own it and still paint, upholster, and rebuilt it today if I had my druthers.  I might (surely do) have some other photos of it, but here's one during one of the rebuilds in my father's garage (because I lived in a trailer house at the time).  Ah, my Fiat memories - honestly, they are ALL good!

Man, I was THAT YOUNG once?Man, I was THAT YOUNG once?

   

ajduclos
Intermediate Driver

   Another great "Italian" tale, DUB6 !!!!!!  The cars from Turin sure get in our blood, don't they?

   And the days of "free" junkyards... just bring your tool box and a basket. 

   Yup - a photo of a young man up to his elbows in joy !!!!!!!