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1963 Lancia Flaminia Coupe Speciale by Pininfarina

Perhaps the best way to describe a vintage Lancia is as the ultimate connoisseur's car. It is a car that one owns not for the image it projects to others, but for the experience it offers its owner. At the core of the company were two critical pillars: technical innovation and build quality. As far back as the years before World War I, Lancia distinguished itself on these axes, bringing the world's first integrated electrical system in an automobile (1913), the first unitary body (in 1922 in a car which also had independent front suspension!), the first 5-speed gearbox (1948), the first V6 (1950), the first V4, and many other innovations. These cars were always elegant, refined and expensive, but the quality of engineering and construction left them essentially without peer for buyers who could appreciate these characteristics.

Their three model range of the early 1960s included the groundbreaking 1+ liter Appia, which packed more thought and innovation than the entire Fiat model lineup, with construction proving that a small car could also be a truly fine car. The middle of the range Flavia was the first postwar European car to feature front wheel drive, and als had a horizontally-opposed four cylinder engine, unitary construction, and four-wheel disc brakes, making it one of Europe's most technically advanced cars when it was introduced at the Turin Motor Show in 1960. And their flagship during the period? It was called the Flaminia and it was an absolute sensation for the consumer sophisticated enough to appreciate it.

The Flaminia appeared in 1957, and had much in common with its predecessor, the legendary Aurelia, which pioneered the use of a V6 engine in a production car when it was introduced in 1950. While the Aurelia's engine began at 1.8 liters and eventually topped out at 2.5 liters after being expanded as far as it could be, the Flaminia received an all-new 2.5 liter V6 which would grow to 2.8 liters in 1962. Both cars employed a transaxle (a rear-mounted combination transmission and differential) together with inboard rear brakes to reduce unsprung weight. Lancia's Formula 1 car of the mid 50s, the D50 used the same powertrain layout for the same reason: weight distribution and thus handling balance. The Flaminia also received a new unequal length A-arm independent front suspension, together with the clever de Dion rear suspension. The car's technical makeup was world class in every regard and considerably more advanced than Ferraris or nearly anything else of the era, including the Mercedes-Benz 300SL in many respects.

The resulting driving experience is quite remarkable as the Flaminia is most extraordinary at covering distance at speed and in comfort. It has a reassuring surefootedness that makes it feel incredibly modern for a car of this period. Each interface point has a durable, high-quality feel that is hard to put into words but makes even the best Ferrari of the era feel a little bit crude by comparison.

Aside from its extraordinary technical content, the Flaminia dripped with elegance and good taste. It was unequivocally the most luxurious Italian car produced at the time and perfectly embodied the idea of La Dolce Vita during Italy's remarkable postwar resurgence. Accordingly, a number of distinguished celebrities had Flaminias, including Audrey Hepburn, Ernest Hemingway, Elio Zagato, Aga Khan, Bridgette Bardot , Sofia Loren, and Marcello Mastroianni. Additionally, Pininfarina made a quartet of stretched landaulet Flaminias for Queen Elizabeth II's 1960 visit to Italy, of which two remain in official Italian state service for special occasions.

A technical tour de force from the outset, the Flaminia was nonetheless upgraded with meaningful improvements over the years: disc brakes were made standard within a year of the start of production, while a 2.8 liter engine - upgraded from the original 2.5 - occurred in 1962, which could be had in "3B" form to indicate the inclusion of a larger triple-throat Solex carburetor to boost power output. The Flaminia was available with standard sedan (Berlina) coachwork, or one of three coachbuilt two-door bodies, which were made by Pinin Farina (which changed its name to Pininfarina in 1959), Touring of Milan (available in both open and closed forms), or Zagato. The Pininfarina Coupe bodywork that this car wears is the most dignified, luxurious and best built of these bodies and owes much to the Lancia Florida II show car displayed by Pinin Farina in 1957.

This particular example is the desirable 2.8 liter 3B Pininfarina Coupe, which was sold new in Italy and remained there until the current owner, a well-known and respected collector of postwar European cars, purchased the car in Italy and brought it to the United States in 2009. Originally delivered in Reggio Calabria, the car is reported to have been repainted in its original shade of Ascot Gray upon moving to Rome in approximately 1973 and considering its age, the paint is in impressive condition. The car received top quality new leather upholstery to the seats in approximately 2004 and they remain virtually as new. The car is otherwise cosmetically unrestored and extraordinarily well-preserved, with some thinning to the chrome and some superficial bubbling in the splash area behind the right rear wheel.

Noted restorer (and multiple best in class winner at Pebble Beach and Villa D'Este) GPS Classic in Soragna, Italy did a full mechanical rebuild including the engine in 2009 at the direction of the current owner immediately upon purchase. It has since been looked after by Raffi Najjarian of Pit Stop Automotive in Brisbane, California, and recently and comprehensively sorted. The car is incredibly well-sorted mechanically, a critical characteristic for any vintage Lancia but one which is rarely undertaken to this level due to cost. It is ready to be shown and enthusiastically driven, ideally on long distance tours, by a new owner fortunate enough to appreciate its rare combination of sophistication, originality, and exceptional current mechanical excellence.

The car comes with its original Italian Libretto (registration booklet), its correct original Roma plates, original owner's manual and documentation for recent maintenance work from 2009 to present, as well as original tools and jack.

Source: Issimi

Images: Pininfarina

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