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Our Editor’s Old Lancia Fulvia Is Today’s Bring a Trailer Auction Selection

• Dressed in Lancia Blue, this 1968 Coupé Fulvia is a rare and beautiful small car with surprisingly advanced engineering.

• The tiny, narrow-angle 1.3-liter V-4 makes about 87 horsepower and (when new) rockets the car from about 2,000 pounds to 60 mph in 12.6 seconds, according to a test run in Road & Track.

• An interesting and more affordable alternative to an Alfa Romeo GTV of the same vintage, the Fulvia is so rare that you are almost guaranteed never to see another one outside of a Lancia club meeting. It’s up for auction on Bring a Trailer, with bidding ending Tuesday, May 24.

It’s more than a little weird when explicit photos of your ex pop up on the internet. But that’s exactly what happened this week when 150 photos of my ex-Lancia Fulvia appeared on Bring A Trailer—which, like Car and driveris part of Hearst Autos. It was my first classic. I bought the Lancia Blue on tan vinyl 1968 Series 1 Fulvia after spotting it on Bring a Trailer in late 2008. At the time, Bring a Trailer listed some interesting and weird cars; the addictive auction site it became was still a few years away.

Purchased on the wise advice of contributor Jamie Kitman, who assured me that his Fulvia would likely be the last car he would sell from his collection of over 30 cars, I drove Connecticut from Michigan in CD’s Jaguar XF long term to see and drive the Fulvia. I enlisted the help of Lancia mechanic Frank Spadaro of Dominick European Car Repair in White Plains, New York, to give me another pair of eyes and an expert’s opinion. Although we spotted some rusted floorboards, the car came with a replacement set. Spadaro noted a few other minor issues, including a carburetor feeding a little too much fuel.

The seller had imported the car from Italy, painted it, relined the interior and swapped in for a newer engine. While it’s never a good idea to look at a car in the rain – everything looks nicer and cozier when it’s raining, and it’s hard to properly examine the paint – the weather hasn’t cooperated. I missed a few paint cracks, but overall the Fulvia appeared as advertised. A few days before my 35th birthday I bought it and the car went straight to White Plains for a minor restoration which included some rust repairs, fuel system cleaning and tweaks to get it back in shape optimal mechanics.

A high-performance Fulvia is a pleasure to command. A ridiculously long shifter peeks out from the firewall, but movement through the four forward gears is smooth and precise. The one-two shift rush results in a graunch of synchros, something noted in the Road & Track test drive of the Fulvia coupe. Delicate precision is infused throughout the machinery, from the way the doors latch to the startling return of the unassisted steering when bent into a corner. There’s nothing particularly interesting about the trailing-arm front suspension and beam-axle rear suspension other than the transverse leaf spring that suspends the front. Push as hard as you want, the Fulvia simply gobbles up the abuse, a trait that has helped make it a world champion rally car.

Our Editor’s Old Lancia Fulvia Is Today’s Bring a Trailer Auction Selection

Bring a trailer

Our Editor’s Old Lancia Fulvia Is Today’s Bring a Trailer Auction Selection

Credit for the light feel is partly paid, but so is the 2,000-pound curb weight, a number that’s only about 100 pounds heavier than the 2005 Lotus Elise that replaced the Lancia. The fixed outer panels are steel and mine comes with aluminum doors, hood and trunk lid. The hood opening shows off the narrow-angle V-4 that’s angled about 45 degrees, and the entire powertrain and front suspension mounts to a subframe. The power is transmitted to the front wheels and the longitudinal four-cylinder sits in front of the front axle line as in most modern Audis.

On the highway, the Fulvia cruised happily at 80 mph, and the narrow-angled four hummed a merry thrum, rumbled through the intake and rumbled out the exhaust. Around town, the 1.3-liter engine produced enough power to accelerate quickly when on the ground. R&T clocked a time of 12.6 seconds at 60 mph and an 18.6 second quarter race at 75 mph. The mechanical tune it sings is the one you want to last, and since it’s not fast, you hear the engine running and the transmission humming. Unpowered four-wheel disc brakes brought the little coupe to a quick stop and offered a nice, firm pedal with strong bite.

I had intended to use it as a daily driver after moving to Los Angeles, but a brake master cylinder failure early in its time in SoCal made me a little scared to use it to buy some kale salads and avocados. and all the things you do when you live in California. Parts are surprisingly plentiful and not expensive. Other than a generator rebuild around 2010, the Fulvia has never required attention.

The Lancia community is small, so when I started talking about the sale, a buyer quickly appeared whose enthusiasm for the car gave me confidence that it would be serviced. Over the years the current owner, and now salesman, has invited me to visit and drive the Fulvia. The recordings have always included a report of all the work and love he put into it.

Lancia made around 250,000 Fulvia coupes from 1965 to 1976, but this is an extremely rare vehicle in the United States. Take one to a car show and be prepared to answer many questions, including, “What kind of Corvair is this?” But, the upside is that you’ll meet a lot of memorable people because it’s an interesting car that attracts interesting people. The auction ends Tuesday May 24th, so there are only a few days left to score one of the most beautiful and special small cars I have ever owned.

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