Revealed in 1963, this famous beauty was first introduced as a 4-door saloon called Fulvia Berlina. It was made to replace the Lancia Appia, and it was a huge rival to the Alfa Romeo Giulia.
Lancia Fulvia Berlina. Credit: FavCars.com
Named after Via Fulvia (the Roman road from Tortona to Turin), the new Lancia came in 3 versions: Berlina, Coupe and Sport Zagato. The most notable one was the Coupe which was unveiled in 1963, and it instantly became a timeless classic. The small boxy shape gave it a very sporty look, and it came with a 1.2-litre V4 with only 80 HP.
Fulvia Coupe. Credit: FavCars.com
Like its bigger sister Berlina, the Fulvia Coupe was FWD, which was rare for the time, and its wheelbase was 15cm shorter than on the Berlina. But, when you look at the design, you may notice that the Coupe is far more beautiful than the 4-door saloon. This is because the designer Piero Castagnero used the iconic Riva Aquarama as an inspiration.
Insanely beautiful. Credit: FavCars.com
Apart from FWD, the Coupe also featured an independent front suspension and a beam axle at the back with a Panhard rod and leaf springs. All first series of Fulvias featured Dunlop disc brakes on all wheels, and were upgraded to bigger Girling discs and brake servo in 1970.
But, the whole purpose of this car was to be small, light and nimble; meaning that it could easily be made into a rally monster. Back in Turin, the Lancia head honchos were observing the success of SAAB and Citroën in rallying and realized that racing would give this little car the attention it deserved...and they were right to make that decision. Fulvia won every Italian Rally Championship from 1965 to 1973 and won the International Rally Championship for Manufacturers in 1972 (which was a WRC predecessor league).
In 1966, they gave us a more powerful version called Coupe HF (a homologation of their rally car). The power was increased to 88 HP, and it was much lighter than the standard version. The side and rear windows were replaced with Plexiglas and some unnecessary parts were removed, like hubcaps and bumpers. The bonnet, boot lid and doors were made out of peraluman, which is an aluminium alloy that consists of 5.6% of magnesium. This alloy was mostly used in HF and Sport models, and thanks to the addition of magnesium, it was corrosion-resistant.
Fulvia HF. Credit: Pandolfini.it
Later, Lancia gave us engines with 87 HP, 92 HP and 101 HP, and decided to add Rallye to the names of all Fulvia Coupes. But, in 1969, they made a completely new 1.6 -litre V4 that came with either 115 HP or 132 HP. This version was also known as 'Fanalone' ('big lamps') due to its bigger pair of inner headlights. The Fanalone is definitely the most valuable one, and you can find one today with a price tag of over €100.000.
That also turned out to be the last proper version of the Fulvia, because Fiat came as a new owner of the company and started to cut expenses, which reflected on their cars. The second series of Fulvia came in only two versions: the 1.3 S with 90 HP and 1600 HF with 115 HP. The Rallye name disappeared into thin air, and Fiat started to use cheaper interior parts.
Fulvia Lusso. Credit: FavCars.com
Even the special editions were barely recognizable, such as the Lusso, Safari and Montecarlo (no idea why they wrote that as one word), and it seemed that Fulvia's end was nigh. Berlina and Sport met their fate in 1972, and four years later, the Fulvia production ceased. The numbers of cars made were: 192.097 units of Berlina, 140.454 units of Coupe and around 6.000 Sport Zagato versions.
Lancia's greatest hits. Credit: RedBull.com
After Fulvia, we got other rally monsters, such as the 037, Stratos and Delta which were pretty much unstoppable in rallying, and much more successful than their older sister. But, we must not forget this little machine, because the Fulvia represented the beginning of Lancia's success in rally. Along with the Alitalia and Martini livery, the famous matte black bonnet with 'Lancia-Italia' written on it became an iconic livery of Lancia's history.
In 2003, Lancia's Centro Stile presented a concept of the modern-day Fulvia which, sadly, never went into production.
Fulvia Concept. Credit: FavCars.com