In Italy, the long established firm of Lancia had survived precariously into the 1960s. The son of the company's founder, Gianni Lancia, had undertaken ambitious expansion plans and also developed a Grand Prix car, the Lancia D50, which showed great promise. Unfortunately, income from the sale of the firm's excellent range of cars was insufficient to meet outgoings and the Formula 1 cars were handed over to Ferrari, while expansion plans were abandoned. Despite the problems the company marketed a wide range of models at the start of the 1960s, including the Appia, Flavia and Flaminia, all technically advanced cars using widely differing mechanical components - a V4 engine in the Appia, a horizontally-opposed four in the Flavia and a V6 in the Flaminia. Consequently, they were expensive to build.
1960 Lancia Appia GTE Zagato
Lancia Flavia 1800 Cabriolet
1960-1967 LANCIA Flaminia Sport Zagato
In 1964 Lancia replaced the Appia with the Fulvia saloon. Although its engine was a V 4 it was a virtually all new engine with a different bore and stroke and with the cylinders slanted over at an angle to obtain a low bonnet height. This 109lcc engine gave 60 bhp at 5800 rpm, giving the chunky Fulvia saloon a top speed of 85 mph. Unlike its predecessor the Fulvia was a front-wheel-drive car, with a four-speed gearbox, while suspension on this unitary construction car was by wishbones and a transverse leaf spring at the front and a dead beam axle on semi-elliptic leaf springs at the rear. Worm and roller steering was used and brakes were a mixture of front discs and rear drums.
Lancia Flavia Saloon
1964 Lancia Fulvia Berlina
The saloon had no great impact but the pretty little coupe which followed in 1964 gained favor with sporting enthusiasts, and for them the engine capacity was increased to 1216cc and power output to 80 bhp at 6000 rpm. This gave a top speed of 105 mph, although acceleration was quite modest. The factory re-entered motor sport via rallying, and a road going version of the rally coupe, called the HF, was marketed. This had a slight power increase, to 88 bhp, which put top speed up to 108 mph with a still modest acceleration rate.
Perhaps the most attractive of the Fulvia variants was the Sport. This was based entirely on the coupe chassis but was graced with an attractive coupe two-seater body designed by Zagato. This sleek fastback shape was very popular on the Continent and the hatchback rear door which was to become almost compulsory on family saloons of the 1970s, was raised by an electric motor.
The engine capacity increased steadily over the years. By 1970 it had grown to 1298cc and the power output of the Sport engine had increased to 103 bhp at 6000 rpm, pushing top speed to 112 mph. Finally the rally-developed engine increased in size to 1584cc and power went up to 114 bhp at 6000 rpm. By now a five-speed gearbox was standardized and top speed was a very respectable 115 mph, while a 0 to 50 mph time of 6.5 seconds was possible.
Although the Sport model never made a name for itself in competition its attractive good looks and combination of performance, handling and economy make it a collector's item.
So, tell us what you think of this car; is it better looking in person? Give us a reply.