The 1963 Geneva Motor Show saw the introduction of a car that would win its spurs in the competitive world of international rallying and enjoy long life and considerable fortune as a road car. But for all that it couldn’t prevent its parent from being consumed by Fiat in 1969, though happily the proud Lancia name was allowed to live on.
The Lancia Fulvia was initially offered as the Berlina four-door saloon with a coupe following later. There was also a Sport coupe produced by Milan’s renowned Zagato concern as a dashing alternative to the factory offering. The Fulvia replaced Lancia’s rear-wheel drive Appia but was itself a front-wheel drive car, following the route pioneered by Lancia with the launch of the Flavia in 1961.
Indeed, the Fulvia closely replicated the Flavia’s general mechanical configuration, though the two models had very different engines. The Fulvia had a brand-new narrow-angle DOHC V4 designed by Zaccone Mina that was destined to be the last in the famous line of such engines created by Lancia since the early 1920s. This was mounted longitudinally in front of the transaxle and would eventually be made in six different capacities as the model line expanded.
An almost endless succession of new and evolutionary options appeared during the Fulvia’s long production run, and the styling gradually evolved from the rather severe sharp-edged appearance of the earlier cars to a much rounder look. The basic Berlina went through several changes, including uprating to GT and GTE status. Nine or ten versions of the factory coupe were created during the long production run, whilst Zagato’s Sport coupe went through three series, the last being the fastest road-going Fulvia ever — the Sport 1600 with its top speed of 118 mph (190 km/h) — a fitting climax to the impressive Fulvia story.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
1963 (until 1976)
Six variants from 1,091 cc to 1,584 cc V4
With typical 1,216 cc engine —top speed of 97 mph (156 km/h); 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 15.7 secs
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
The one that own-and-drive collectors all chase after is the Lancia Fulvia Coupe HF, first offered in 1965 — this is a supremely elegant compact coupe that spawned a whole line of high-performance Rallye coupes.