Guide Price: £25,000 - £30,000
﹒Offered with a recent current MOT
﹒Very well looked after older restoration
﹒One of a believed 40 righthand drive examples produced
﹒Featured in Classic & Sports car magazine in 2005
Lancia’s spectacular rallying heritage dominates the company’s modern discourse but it’s easy to forget the company was once known instead for making beautiful, innovative and incredibly elegant road cars. The Flavia of the 1960s is perhaps one of the most prominent examples of this, the first Italian car to send power to its front wheels, and did so through the efforts of a horizontally-opposed four-cylinder engine and four-speed manual gearbox.
While the Flavia served predominantly as an executive saloon, it was also offered in several other body styles. One of the most desirable was the car you see here, the Vignale-bodied convertible introduced in 1962. Based on the smaller coupe floorpan, just 1601 were built in this style, just 724 of which in 1.5-litre form and only 132 cars in 1962. Fewer still remain in right-hand drive.
LEC 111 is an early Vignale from 1962, fitted with the 1.5-litre twin-carb engine. The current owner, long an enthusiast of Lancia vehicles (mostly Fulvias), bought the car as a project around ten years ago. Since then the car has enjoyed a restoration, and from the images supplied by the seller it’s clear to see the difference between then and now. Maintenance has been carried out by specialists including the much-respected Omicron, ensuring the car has remained in good health despite its lack of use since then.
In addition to the car’s paperwork, the seller notes communication from early in his tenure of the car with a previous owner, and a journalist who drove the car for a magazine report in Classic & Sports Car back in 2005. The previous owner’s late father had originally purchased the car in 1967, confirming that the car’s original colour was actually a dark green-grey metallic. It’s unclear when the car was repainted in its current red, which undoubtedly suits the car though wasn’t part of the car’s most recent restoration.
As the car has remained in storage since its restoration, it is currently untaxed (since 2006), though given the car’s age of 58 years, it is and is eligible for zero-rate VED. For pure peace of mind, the seller has recently put a fresh MOT on the vehicle.
The car comes with a V5 and a folder of paperwork including details of its servicing and restoration.
The Flavia’s cabin truly is a highlight, and a significant beneficiary of the car’s restoration. The cream trim chosen might be less subtle than the black previously used, but it suits the red paintwork perfectly and is undoubtedly a classic Italian sports car combination. Predictably too, for a car that hasn’t been driven a great deal over the years, the condition of the retrimmed leather is fantastic – the seats are soft both to the touch and to sit in, the padding and bolstering in full health, and the seating is complemented wonderfully by both the matching cream doorcards as well as the wooden trim, new black carpeting, and interior brightwork.
Little beats getting your hands on a classic Italian wooden-rimmed steering wheel either. It’s in great condition but retains an original patina. The instruments behind are a fantastic touch, with a strip speedometer and circular tachometer, joined by small rectangular gauges for fuel, water temperature, oil temperature and current, and these too are in great but unrestored, patinated condition.
You’ll find pitting on many of the chrome trim elements, but it’s wear and tear indicative of the car’s age and adds up to the feeling of a car that has been enjoyed and cared for rather than simply locked away. Importantly it all feels solid too – in the 1960s Lancia really did produce quality vehicles and there’s a sense of integrity here that’s surprising if you’re more familiar with the Italian stereotypes. The action of winding the windows up and down on unlatching the roof really does have a quality feel to it.
There’s a beauty to Italian roadsters from the 1960s that few other classes of vehicle from few other decades even approach, but it’s amplified when those cars are as well-presented as this. While the restoration was clearly beneficial for the Flavia’s details, it’s impressive indeed that the bodywork has remained largely untouched, because the Rosso Rallye paint finish really does look fantastic. There are of course small imperfections, consistent with a finish that’s been on the car for more than the ten years of the current ownership, but certainly nothing problematic.
It’s at its best too contrasted against the cream wheel finish and the restored brightwork too, but the car hasn’t had all its character restored away. Items that were merely aged rather than damaged have been retained, so you’ll find pitting on the door handles, grille, headlight surrounds and badges for instance, but the bumpers and windscreen surround look factory-fresh.
The roof too is effectively new, and while it requires a little technique to erect and stow free of creases, it looks and feels substantial enough that were you unlucky enough to be caught in a downpour, you’d have no qualms about continuing your journey! Our photos are best contrasted with those supplied by the seller of the car’s state pre-restoration – the transformation is clear to see.
The tyres are all in good condition and have plenty of tread, the exception being the spare in the boot, which you may wish to replace if using the car for anything more than short journeys. All the lights and lamps are in good condition, with a small crack in one rear reflector. That spare tyre aside all is well inside the boot too, while the underside of the car is similarly representative of a car that while not in concours condition, is completely solid, very usable and suitably weatherproofed.
Horizontally-opposed engines always look a little odd when you open the bonnet, the expected classic car fare of prominent cam covers instead replaced by what looks like a mass of wires and ancillaries. The Flavia’s 1.5-litre bounty includes two prominent air filter housings, a battery, a brake booster and a distributor, but what strikes you is the same used but well-maintained look as the rest of the car.
And sure enough, the flat-four starts with little effort and settles to an idle distinctive from other models with this engine layout – albeit much quieter than that of a certain air-cooled German icon. It ticks over nicely, there are no leaks apparent at sump level and the exhaust system and running gear appear to be in fine fettle too.
It’s a pleasure just spending time around a car like this, particularly one with such a cheerful disposition thanks to its bright red paintwork, light interior and retractable roof. The little touches that belie the car’s age and originality and great too – it’s a car that strikes us as being really usable, without having to worry about the minor imperfections that inevitably occur when putting miles on a classic car.
Mechanically simple and with modest power from its 1.5-litre engine, there’s also little incentive to race around like you might in some of the Lancia’s contemporary rivals, or indeed other Italian convertibles. Instead, this Flavia Vignale brings to mind the idea of weekend trips to the pub, or perhaps a continental road trip, in search of spectacular scenery.
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