Lancia Flaminia

The Lancia Flaminia was a luxury car from the Italian automaker, Lancia, built from 1957 to 1970. It was Lancia's flagship model at that time, replacing the Aurelia. It was available throughout its lifetime as sedan, coupé, cabrio, and a stretched limousine model was even created for official service. The Flaminia (save for the sedan) was a coachbuilt car with bodies from the most prestigious Italian coachbuilders. The demise of this model in 1970 left a void only filled by Lancia Gamma in 1976.

With only 12,633 sold over 13 years, the Flaminias were truly exclusive and unique cars, and are very rare collectibles now. Interestingly, coupés outsold the 4-door variant by far, even in spite of shorter production run and coachbuilt bodies.

Following the tradition of naming models after Roman roads, the Flaminia was named after Via Flaminia, the road leading from Rome to Ariminum (Rimini).

The Flaminia's chassis was a development of the Aurelia's, but was significantly upgraded. Most importantly, the front suspension was independent, with double wishbones, coil springs, telescopic shock absorbers, and an anti-roll bar. The rear suspension retained the De Dion setup, with a transaxle mounted at the rear as in the Aurelia. In the beginning, the Flaminia came with drum brakes, but discs were substituted after the initial 500 or so cars were built.

The body was developed by Pininfarina and previewed by the Aurelia-based Florida prototypes. While the Florida I, presented at the 1956 Turin Motor show, was a sedan with suicide doors, the Florida II, presented a year later at the Salon International de l'Auto in Geneva, was a coupé, and became Battista Pininfarina's personal car of choice. The final production Lancia Flaminia was also shown in 1957.

Berline was the name given by Lancia to the sedan version (berline means a four-door body literally). Designed by Pininfarina basing on the Florida I prototype, this body was actually handbuilt by Lancia, as the only one for Flaminia. This was also the only body to last through the entire production period. There were 3,344 Berlinas built with the 2.5 L engine (102/110 bhp specification), and additional 599 with the 2.8 L (128 bhp). They were assembled at Lancia's old facility at Borgo Sao Paolo as the last model to be built there.

The very first series had double windscreens on the rear window (2 outside, 2 inside). These were deleted on the latter versions.

The Coupé was also penned by Pininfarina, and built by the coachbuilder. It was very similar to the Florida II prototype with a 2+2 layout and had a shortened wheelbase, as all 2-door versions. The Coupé has a front nearly identical to the Berlina, but the headlight frames are completely round, whereas they point slightly upwards in the sedan. 5,236 Coupés (4,151 with the 2.5, 1,085 with the 2.8) were built until 1967.

Carrozzeria Touring designed and built those two-door versions, which can be easily distinguished by their four round headlights (rather than two on Pininfarina Flaminias), and a shorter cabin - the wheelbase was decreased significantly for the GT and Convertibile, allowing for only two seats to be mounted. The GT was a coupé, while the Convertibile was obviously a cabriolet version (with optional hardtop). The GTL, introduced in 1962, was a 2+2 version of the GT with a slightly longer wheelbase. The Convertibile was in production until 1964, with 847 made in total (180 with the 2.8), while the GT and GTL lasted until 1965, with 1718 GTs and 300 GTLs made (out of which, 168 GTs and only 3 GTLs with the 2.8).

The Sport was built by Zagato, and was also a two-seater. It used the same shorter wheelbase chassis as the GT, and had a very distinctive rounded aluminium body. The Super Sport replaced the Sport in 1964, with the introduction of the 2.8 L 152 bhp engine. The Zagatos had the famous pop-out handles. The first Sports had flush covered headlights, later changed to more classic round ones. The Super Sport also saw some changes - the rear was updated to a Kammback, while the front was made more aerodynamic with distinctive tear-shape headlight casings. Until 1967, 593 Sports and Super Sports were built (99 Preseries, 344 Sports, 150 Supersports).

When in 1960 Queen Elizabeth II announced her visit to Italy, President Gronchi commissioned Pininfarina to deliver four stretched Lancia Flaminia limousines to appropriately service the visit (and also renew the dated presidential fleet). The cars were built in a record time of 6 months to a detailed specification, with the assistance of General Motors with regard to various electric extras. They were seven-seater landaulets, painted dark blue, with black Connolly leather upholstery, Voxon radio and Pirelli tires.

This model was officially called 335 (due to its 335 cm wheelbase), and was also referred to as Presidenziale or Quirinale (after Quirinal Palace, the residence of the President of the Italian Republic). Individual cars were called Belsito, Belmonte, Belvedere and Belfiore. President Ciampi donated one of them to the Museo dell'automobile in Turin, and kept the other three in occasional use. There were rumors of a fifth 335 being donated to the Queen, but this seems unsubstantiated.

The Flaminia was one of the more exclusive and prestigious vehicles in its time, which is why it was often the vehicle of choice of the rich and famous. Among them were famous actors Marcello Mastroianni, Sofia Loren, Brigitte Bardot and Audrey Hepburn (who had a dark blue Berlina, which she used from 1967 to 1975 when living in Switzerland). Prince Aly Khan had a fatal accident in his Flaminia Touring near Bois de Boulogne. Ernest Hemingway and even the Holy See are also listed among Flaminia owners.

Source: Wikipedia, 2011

Be part of something big