There's probably no bigger name in the history of rally than Lancia. Despite not winning a title since 1992, it's the most successful manufacturer in World Rally Championship history with 10 titles to its name – and it was all built on the Fulvia.
Originally, the Fulvia was a regular four-door saloon car (Berlina), but in 1965 Lancia introduced the Coupe model, and it was this that Lancia used for its return to motorsport – on the rally stages – that same year. It was wildly successful, winning the pre-WRC championship in 1972 and though replaced by the rear-wheel drive Stratos halfway through the 1974 season jointly won the WRC before retirement.
The Fulvia Coupe lasted through two discreet generations, with the Series 2 facelift replacing the Series 1 in 1970, though an updated “Coupe 3” also came along in 1974 before the model line was replaced with the Beta.
This example is an original UK right-hand-drive Series 2 1.3 S, which first reached the roads on April 1 1971 – which will mean it's celebrating its 50th birthday during this auction.
The documentation with the car reveals it's moved around the UK quite a bit since first arriving right in its rally heyday, with owners in Kent, London, Bournemouth, and Cambridge, before ending up in North Yorkshire.
Its current owner picked it up only last September, as the latest in a long line of cars he's restored to health over the last 40 years. The Fulvia had previously benefited from an extensive chassis and shell rebuild, with a supporting invoice for more than £14,000, with the present owner finishing off the remaining mechanical and aesthetic jobs to leave it looking almost brand new.
There's a solid collection of paperwork with the Lancia. You'll find plenty of photocopies of old vehicle log book documents running through several owners from 1971 to 1993, and then again from 2004 to 2009 – and of course the current V5C.
In addition there's a range of receipts covering major and minor work in recent years. That includes a detailed invoice for all of the work in 2015, adding up to over £14,000 – with the car being stripped back to bare metal, a significant amount of remedial welding and replacement metal, and sealed.
There's also some invoices for other components like new dampers, exhaust and exhaust manifold, and even smaller, hard-to-find parts, including a new boot rubber.
Though the Fulvia Coupe isn't a very big car, it's a four-seater just like the Berlina. There's two seats in the front and a rear bench and, as you'd expect from a recently reupholstered car, they're in immaculate condition.
Likewise, the two door cards and the interior carpets were all recently replaced, and they're all in similarly great condition.
The dash and other controls pre-date the recent restoration, but seem to be in good condition too, with the vinyl and wood undamaged, and even an original “elpico” radio.
Interestingly, the Fulvia comes with fixed, two-point front seat belts, which fit into round latches between the two seats rather than the normal square items.
The extensive refurbishment work from 2015 shows on the outside too, with the Fulvia Coupe gleaming in “rosso corsa” red. We can't find a single mark, dent, scratch, chip, or even a bug splat anywhere on it – even in all the usual spots like the door shuts or under the bonnet.
Similarly, all the chrome brightwork is in top condition, as are all the lights and glass; the exterior restoration may date back six years now, but it could have been done yesterday. More recent wheels complement the bodywork too.
It's a similar story underneath; the car has seen a few road miles but it is clean and tidy, with none of the warning signs you'd usually see on unrestored or bodged Fulvias.
A recent overhaul of that narrow-angle V4 engine, carried out by a local classic rally specialist - Rallysport Development in Malton - sees the Fulvia in good mechanical condition as well.
It fires up without hesitation, and settles to a nice idle and revs well too, making a pleasant noise through the recently replaced exhaust manifold and rear section and with no sign of smoking.
Although we didn't get a chance to see it on the road, the gears of the five-speed manual seem to have no trouble engaging either forward or reverse, and there's no worrisome sounds from the brakes, steering, or suspension in low-speed manoeuvring.
It's one of the most famous names from one of the most famous eras of one of Italy's most famous brands. Despite its age, the Lancia Fulvia Coupe is still among the best-handling front-wheel-drive performance cars, and it's a must-have on rally heritage alone. If that weren't enough, it's also drop-dead gorgeous!
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