Life is Too Short to Drive a Boring Car
Owner and Photographer: Frank Matthews
Year, Make, and Model: 1972 Lancia Fulvia Sport 1.3s, body by Zagato
Location: Sedona, Arizona, USA
I first became interested in cars due to my Dad, who was a mechanical engineer. Growing up we always had interesting cars, and he allowed me to buy and repair my own motorcycles (Harley and Indian) beginning at age fourteen, which was the driving age at the time. After learning how mechanical things worked, I always enjoyed tinkering in the garage, and finding out how stuff was put together.
My online search lasted for a few months, and I came across several websites in Holland, where they have a lot of “old timers”, as they call classic vehicles. After considering several makes, I settled on Lancia, which is known for refinement and innovation, at least prior to its takeover by Fiat.
After considering a variety of Lancia models, and the occasional Alfa, I found a nice, lower mileage Zagato-bodied Sport, and following several e-mails and a short, but expensive phone conversation with the owner, made a mutually acceptable offer, and the deal was done. I had reservations about buying a car sight unseen, but sometimes you have to trust your instincts, and I am glad I did, as the car exceeded my expectations. The seller arranged shipping via container to the West Coast, which cost a very reasonable $1300.
After a four-month journey to the west coast, and another month waiting for stateside delivery, it finally arrived last summer, and I must say I am more than pleased with the condition. One major problem was that the title was in Dutch, and it had to be “officially” translated before the local DMV would transfer the title. I found a professor of Dutch in Michigan, who was kind enough to do the notarized translation for me.
So far I have put nearly two-thousand kilometers of trouble-free miles on the odometer, and get many “thumbs up” wherever I go. No one yet has guessed the make/model, except one Lady who was from the Netherlands, where Lancias are relatively common. I never have to wonder which Lancia is mine when I come out of the movie theater.
The Zagato-bodied Sport was a popular option at the time, and was built from 1967 to the mid ‘70s. It has a 1.3L narrow-angle, forward mounted V4, DOHC, canted at 45 degrees. It is FWD, with four-wheel disc brakes, and a five-speed floor-mounted shifter. It has no options, power assist, or even a radio, which is good because there are fewer things to go wrong. When new, the Fulvia cost more than a Jaguar E-type, and reportedly never earned Lancia a profit.
I love the way the car drives, how “mechanical” everything is, and how comfortable, but supportive, the seats are. Upon opening the door, your senses are overwhelmed by the wonderful smell of aged leather, like your favorite old bomber jacket. I also appreciate not seeing a similar car every time I go out for a drive, and get a kick out of the thumbs up I get almost every time I exercise the car. It also makes great sounds, especially above 4,000 rpm.
Although it has no trouble cruising at 65-70 mph, the car feels most at home on winding two-lane back roads, which thankfully are common in the area. I also hope to enter several road rallies in the near future.
I have owned many vehicles over the years, including some very fast and exclusive cars, but must say that this is one of my all time favorites, even though it only has 90 hp, and FWD. As I have often told my children, life is too short to drive a boring car.
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