Image credits: © Lancia.

1965 Lancia Fulvia S1

In 1963 Lancia introduced the Fulvia at the Geneva Motor Show. It was designed by Antonio Fessia and intended as a replacement for the Lancia Appia. The Fulvia was a front-wheel drive vehicle where its predecessor, the Appia, used rear-wheel drive configuration. The longitudinal engine was mounted in the front. The suspension in the rear was a solid axle with a panhard rod and leaf springs while the front was independent with wishbones and leaf springs. Disc brakes were placed on all four corners of the car.

The DOHC V4 engine was designed by Zaccone Mina and mounted forward at a 45-degree angle. The 1091 cc engine was capable of producing between 59 and 71 horsepower depending on the configuration and compression ratio. The HF model had a 1216 cc engine and produced between 80 and 88 horsepower.

In 1969, Fiat took over production of the vehicle.

In 1972, a Fulvia was victorious at winning the International Rally Championship.

Throughout its life span the vehicle could be had in a number of body-styles and configurations. In 1963 a compact four door was introduced and dubbed the Berlina. In 1967, a GT version of the Berlina was available and featured a more powerful 1216 cc. engine. The GTE soon followed in 1968 with a 1298 cc engine. A shorter version was available in 1965 and dubbed the Coupe. The rally version Coupe HF was introduced in 1965 and featured a 1.2 and 1.3 engine. Later, a 1.6HF became available, as did a sport version which was a 2-seater sports car.

Both on the track and on the streets, the Fulvia had a successful career.
By Daniel Vaughan | Jul 2007
Many carmakers stand out in the collective memory of vintage auto enthusiasts as having built exceptionally well-engineered cars. Porsche and Lotus, for instance, each built cars not just with passion but also with mathematical precision and distinct purpose. One of the best-engineered marques of automotive history has often been forgotten, though.

It was the carmaker that made pioneering advances in technologies that have today become ubiquitous, including the 'V' engine configuration and unitized body construction. It was the carmaker so concerned with building cars to its own high standards that it ignored the principles cost-effectiveness and doomed itself to financial ruin and a takeover by Fiat. It was the carmaker that, even under Fiat's control, realized sparkling rally success with a car that would have looked at home on Mars. The name of this carmaker, once Italy's most technically advanced brand, is Lancia.

Established in 1906, Lancia quickly earned a reputation for being one of the most innovative carmakers in the world. In 1922 the radical Lancia Lambda was introduced, powered by a V4 and built using unitized construction. Decades later, Lancia's innovative spirit was still alive in the company's products, proven by the Aurelia of 1950 that featured the world's first mass-produced V6 as well as a rear transaxle and rear inboard brakes.

Lancia's expensive pursuit of engineering excellence ended when Fiat took over the debt-laden company in 1969. Before the Fiat takeover, though, Lancia was able to introduce a model that combined crisp Italian styling, capable performance, and advanced technology in a light and lithe package. That model, the Fulvia, was introduced in 1963 and continued in production for years after Fiat took control of ailing Lancia.

The Fulvia was a small, front-wheel-drive Lancia powered by a V4. With sales that surpassed 300,000 units, the Fulvia sold in great numbers for a Lancia yet still was not a financial success. It was produced in several variations until 1976.

The first Fulvia, introduced in 1963, was a sedan with styling by Pietro Castagnero. Its tight, boxy shape exemplified the typically clean lines of small Italian sedans from the 1960's. For 1965, a Fulvia coupe was released. The coupe's styling was every bit as pure as the sedan's, yet the Fulvia coupe's shape was more interesting and unique than was the sedan's somewhat anonymous profile. The coupe was also styled by Castagnero, but was an altogether more successful design than the sedan. The Fulvia sedan was produced until 1972, while the coupe remained in production until 1976.

The V4 that powered the first of the Fulvia sedans displaced only 1,091cc, good for a modest 58bhp. By 1964, power was up to 71bhp from the same displacement in the 2C sedan. This added power was by no means overwhelming, but it was a very impressive figure for such an engine of such diminutive displacement. The high specific output of Lancia's V4 was just one example of the high quality of the Fulvia's engineering. The later Fulvia GT (available with 1,216cc or 1,231cc motors) and GTE (1,298cc) were the most powerful Fulvia sedans.

When the coupe appeared in 1965, it used a V4 with displacement increased to 1,216cc. Output was at a hearty 80bhp. As the coupe aged, Lancia continued to provide sportier trim levels with even more powerful engines. Of these sportier trims, the 1.6 HF was the most impressive. It made 115bhp out of 1,584cc and, thanks in part to its 5-speed gearbox, could reach 112mph.

Another Fulvia coupe variant was the Fulvia Sport. This model was built by Zagato between 1965 and 1972, and featured aerodynamic styling by Ercole Spada coupled with powerful 1,216cc, 1,298cc and 1,584cc engines. Aluminum alloy was used in the construction of Fulvia Zagato bodies (though only early models featured all-alloy bodies), resulting in a lighter car than the Fulvia coupe.

The Lancia Fulvia, in sedan, coupe, and Sport forms, was successful in motor racing. The most notable racing achievements of the Fulvia range were accomplished by coupe models, which were used extensively in rallies. The highlight of the Fulvia's racing career came in 1972 when a Fulvia Rallye 1.6 HF won the International Championship for Manufacturers rally series.

The Fulvia was arguably the last true Lancia. Though Lancia produced some incredible vehicles while under Fiat control, none of them had the classic combination of refinement and innovation that characterized pre-Fiat models. The Fulvia remains an excellent choice for buyers looking to discover the Lancia mystique at an affordable price.

Sources:
Vanzetti, Piero. 'Lancia Fulvia.' Piero Vanzetti's Lancia Fulvia Site n. pag. Web. 15 Jun 2010. http://www.alma.it/vanzettip/fulvia/fulviae.html.

Wood, Jonathan. Great Marques of Italy. London: Octopus Books Limited, 1987. 151-183. Print.

By Evan Acuña

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