- lancia is a storied italian marque with more than 100 years of history, and the company's fulvia coupe was a frequent rally champion in its day, thanks to nimble handling and a reputation for reliability.
- this example has performed faithfully on long-distance classic-car tours and is a unique alternative to a contemporary alfa romeo.
- it's up for auction right now on the bring a trailer auction site, with bidding set to end on wednesday, april 6.
modern-day lancia is a shadow of its former self, having been reduced to selling only a five-door hatchback that resembles a less-pretty fiat 500. before that were mostly chrysler products rebadged for the italian market, including the 300 (as the lancia theta) and the voyager minivan. but wind the clock back far enough and you find cars packed with elegance and sophisticated engineering. and this 1972 lancia fulvia hf is one such rare machine. it's currently up for auction at the bring a trailer auction site, which, like car and driver, is part of hearst autos. with just five days to go, the top bid currently sits at $26,000.
when it was introduced in 1965, almost everything about the fulvia was revolutionary. it was a front-wheel-drive car with a canted narrow-angle v-4 under the hood, and it came with disc brakes at all four corners. the sedan was a bit of a shoebox, but the delicate coupe version was sufficiently winsome that it eventually captured the heart of none other than car and driver's own editor-in-chief, tony quiroga.
this particular example is a later s2 model with the larger 1.6l v-4 and a five-speed manual transmission. the hf designation is for "high fidelity," the appellation provided to the most sporting lancias. in the same year this car was built, a fulvia hf won the monte carlo rally. it's a tiny car, but it left big shoes to fill: lancia's follow-up act was the mighty stratos.
the characteristics that made the fulvia a solid contender on rally special stages make for a classic car that stands up to regular usage. the owner of this one notes some recent servicing including replacement of the rear main seal, clutch, and engine and transmission mounts, but a bigger part of the story is the mileage. far from being some garage-bound prima donna, this fulvia has seen 12,000 miles added to its odometer over roughly five years of ownership. it's a sorted example, ready for motoring con brio.
despite being only slightly longer than a first-generation mazda miata, the little lancia is very stable at highway speeds. handling in corners is deft and predictable, and the brakes are excellent. the v-4 puts out an unusual but satisfying soundtrack, and the upright driving position makes for clear sightlines. reviewing a pair of fulvias in 1967, road & track summed up, "the rallye coupe is a car for anyone who wants a precision motorcar and engineering tour de force for less than $4000."
adjusted for inflation, that figure will today land you a current volkswagen gti. that's a perfectly sensible, modern choice for a front-wheel-drive machine with a dash of performance, but wouldn't you prefer something with a touch more style? a little rally heritage? a small cup of espresso con lancia?