Alternate terms for these quirky cars are "full of personality," "individualistic," and various other ways you'd go about describing a blind date
When the Lancia Flavia was first presented to the public at the Turin Motor Show of 1960, most people were amazed at its unconventional layout. Developed by the gifted engineer Antonio Fessia, it was the first Italian car to employ a horizontally fitted engine, a 90-hp, 1.5-liter, four-cylinder driving the front wheels.
The Flavia Sport was a 2+2 coupe that carried aluminum coachwork by Zagato, one of Italy's most influential, important and mythical design studios. The young designer Ercole Spada created the unusual and aerodynamic shape of the Flavia Sport by using concave and rounded surfaces and an angled grille. Due to its lightweight body, it was easily capable of exceeding 100 mph and was highly successful in both rally and endurance racing. Indeed, the most important victory of this special model was achieved by René Trautmann in the 1965 Coupe des Alpes.
The Lancia Flavia Sport on offer here was ordered by the famous French rally driver in January 1964. He immediately brought it to the Turin-based tuner Bosato, which completely modified the car, turning it into a thoroughbred rally car. Power was boosted to about 130 hp from 1,800-cc of displacement, with top speed hitting 112 mph.
In the same year Trautmann joined the legendary "Squadra Corse," which became the official Lancia rally team in 1965. Though Trautmann had access to the red works Lancias, he used this Flavia at important events such as the Tour de France in 1964 and the Coupe des Alpes in 1965, achieving Lancia's most important rally results since the 1950s.
It is believed that the car remained with the Trautmanns until 1980, when it was purchased by its last owner in Grenoble. The car has since been kept in a collection and no longer used, however it has been prepared for participation in modern retrospective events.
The body is in very sound original condition, still wearing its original medium metallic blue paintwork. The interior, too, is in a marvelous original state with the original black carpets fitted and showing the period rally specifications such as Zagato racing seats, roll-cage, and Plexiglas side and rear windows. The original and numbers-matching engine has benefited from a recent complete rebuild.
This competition Lancia provides a rare opportunity for acquiring one of these sought-after sports cars, and would be an ideal entry for some of today's most prestigious historic events.
|1964 Lancia Flavia Sport
|Original List Price:
|Tune Up Cost:
|Chassis Number Location:
|passenger side inner wing chassis leg
|Engine Number Location:
|on top of block
|American Lancia Club, 1495 Southgate Ave., Daly City, CA 94105
|1965-67 Alfa Romeo GTA, 1974-76 Lancia Stratos, 1976 Ferrari Michelotto 308 Grp 4
This 1964 Lancia Flavia Sport sold for $69,184 at Christie’s Retromobile sale, held February 12, 2005.
In the world of Italian cars, there is a catchall category for those that aren’t Alfa Romeos or Ferraris that we call “Etceterini.” It is filled with wonderful cars that most people have never heard of, or if they have, they’ve never taken seriously enough. Lancia is one of the standout marques in this group, as it has been argued that through the ’50s and into the ’60s, it built the best-engineered Italian car, period. They were better and certainly more innovative than those from Milano and Maranello.
But there is another less-endearing characteristic where Lancia outdid its countrymen as well, and that’s being quirky. (Alternate terms are “full of personality,” “individualistic,” and various other ways you’d go about describing a blind date.) The result is that Lancias inspire a love-it-or-leave-it passion. The people who know them and care about them do so intensely, while those who don’t, don’t.
Even for Lancia, the Flavia was a break-the-mold sort of car, with a horizontally mounted, water-cooled flat four and a five-speed transaxle driving the front wheels. With a stock 90 hp, performance wasn’t exactly neck snapping, particularly in the standard road cars. The Flavia Sport got an aluminum body by Zagato with substantially reduced weight and appropriately distinctive styling. And with an 1,800-cc engine and some serious Italian race tuning, it proved to be an excellent weapon for both rallying and endurance racing in the small-displacement classes.
The Flavia Sport pictured here was a sort of “semi-official” replica of the works rally cars. It was sold to race driver Trautmann with many of the factory bells and whistles, and he then took it to the best Lancia hot-rodder to have it made fast like the factory cars. He did, in fact, drive this car in some rallies, though it was never a factory team car. Contrary to the catalog description, however, it was not his mount in either the Tour de France or the Coupe des Alpes, as he drove the red factory cars in both of those events, not this blue one. Even so, the car is a very real race car with excellent history, just not quite as impressive as suggested.
The thing that makes the 1964 Lancia way cool is how truly original and un-messed-with it is. It’s got original paint, original seats and interior, original dings and scratches, and original lousy panel fit, a time-warp car that doesn’t show up very often, if ever. The engine has been freshly redone and it has a new FIA-spec roll cage in it, so it can be used with abandon right out of the box, while still looking like a barn-find.
But as great as that sounds, there’s an old line for cars like this: “You don’t buy them, you marry them.” This both suggests that you do it for love rather than money, and that selling one is like a divorce. In this case, when this Lancia crossed the block it didn’t attract a single bid from the audience at Retromobile-hard to believe, considering it was a French rally champion’s car offered at France’s premier auto show, and would be the perfect Francophile ride for the historic Tour de France rally.
The 1964 Flavia Sport was sold later in the evening to a telephone buyer, so it qualifies as an auction sale. At about $70k, the new owner will have a welcome, if not wildly fast, entrant in pretty much any event he wants to enter, so I’d say well bought.
I spoke with the seller and he explained that the Retromobile auction was the end of a four-year fling (three of which were spent with the car in the shop). He had dreamed of vintage rallies and the occasional vintage race, but that had never worked out, so it was just time for the Flavia to find a new lover. I was curious about the seller’s affection for Lancias after this experience, but in typical character he replied, “If one showed up in my driveway this afternoon, I’d probably buy it again.”
Ain’t love grand
(Descriptive information courtesy of the auction company.)