“Lancia Quest” continues….

I’ve long had a theory that any given model of vehicle is worth X-amount of dollars in good condition. If you get it for X-minus-Y dollars, there’s a good chance you’ll have to spend Y dollars (or even Y-plus-Z dollars) on repairs or restoration to bring it up to good condition.

That’s proving to be the case with the Lancia Fulvia I’m looking at right now.

I first saw the car on Carsales.com.au with five photos and an asking price of $21,000. I talked to a few people and that price seemed a bit ambitious. The ad read as if the car was quite good, with some modifications but with the original parts included. The photos presented the car as if it was in quite good condition. At $21,000, I expected this Fulvia to be ready-to-roll with little to do other than routine maintenance.

I figured if I could get this car for around $16K or so, then I’d have a wonderfully interesting car to scratch my increasing Italian itch.

The Lancia Quest got turned on its head completely on Sunday, however.

On Sunday, I found that the same car had been placed for auction on Ebay – with a starting reserve of just $10,000!!!

I called the owner to have a chat about the car. He said the starting price was set so low simply to get the ball rolling on the auction. Fair enough.

But having conducted two unsuccessful Ebay auctions for my Alfa Romeo GTV6 in the last few months, I know that you can have several dozen ‘watchers’ for an auction that ends with no bids. There’s a very real chance that someone will jump in with a last-minute bid and pick up this car for just the $10K starting price.

My question, therefore – why is he willing to risk this?

During my call with the owner, he mentioned that a $10,000 sale would likely be “car only”, that he’d keep the spare parts to sell individually. He doesn’t mention this in the ad and if I was the successful bidder, I’d feel a bit peeved about that.

Anyway, I called on a Saab mate in the same city to see if he could visit the seller and check out the car, which he did yesterday.

The car’s been sitting for a while and they had a little trouble getting it started, but it fired up eventually. Lars found the driving experience somewhat intoxicating. The car responds well and the exhaust note is just fantastic. That’s what I was hoping and expecting to hear.

Less encouraging is the over-all condition of the car. It looks like it’s been repainted in recent years, but a closer inspection reveals that the preparations for that repaint might have been sub-standard. There are various chips, cracks and marks that indicate there might have been some swift filling done in less-than-ideal conditions.

There’s also a small oil leak somewhere at the bottom of the engine (see photos, below).

Then there’s the interior. The seller has installed some seats from a Subaru into the car. The original seats are available, but he’s already told me that they need refurbishment. There are cracks at the top of the rear seat, the window furniture looks like it’s 45 years old (which it is), as does the top of the dashboard. The wood trim around the gauges is in good condition for age, but will benefit from a good sanding and re-finishing.

All things considered, this car seems to be more of a running restorer than a $21,000 ready-to-go car.

Images from Lars’ visit with the car, below.

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You might think I’m being too fussy…..

Well, back in 2006, the car below was passed in at auction in Melbourne with a desired sale range of $10-15,000. The Lancia I’m chasing is nowhere near as well finished as this one:

That one was passed in at a lower price, but that was back in 2006. I have a feeling it would achieve that price quite comfortably today.

So what’s “my” Lancia really worth?

I reckon there’s a good $10K’s worth of work involved with this car and that’s if I can learn to do some of it myself. The reserve price on the Ebay auction is probably just fair given what’s left to be done in order to bring this car up to the desired level of operation and presentation.

The auction ends tomorrow at midnight.

Strategy 1 – Place a last minute bid for $10K and hope I’m the only one bidding. Secure the car at this lowest price and negotiate on the spare parts that I want (which is not all of them).

Strategy 2 – Trump the auction with a negotiated price of around $12-13,000 for the car and all the parts. The seller is very open to receiving offers before the auction ends. Take other bidders out of the equation. The seller has said he wants around $15 for the whole package, but it never hurts to ask.

Strategy 3 – Wait for the auction to end and see what happens. If it sells, I no longer have a decision to make. If it doesn’t, then hope to agree on a price that will satisfy the both of us.

All of this pre-supposes that I’ll actually fit in the car whilst wearing a helmet. I’ll find out the answer to that question tonight thanks to a local owner who’s willing to move a few cars around in his shed so that I can get access to his Fulvia.

I’d really like to get this car under the right conditions. It wouldn’t be much good for a run to the hardware store but there’s not much else that I do with a car that it wouldn’t be suited to. Between this and the 9000 Aero I’ll pick up in Sydney next week (yes, we bought an Aero to replace Mrs Swade’s 9000CS), 95% of my motoring needs will be covered completely.

I know I’ll have to commit extra funds to a restoration but given the Fulvia’s character, history and rarity, I think it’ll be worth it. The bonus is that the car will be relatively pain-free to run until those funds are saved and the work commenced.

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If you’ve got another 7 minutes or so to spare, watch this new video from Petrolicious. It’s not the same car. It’s not even the same brand. But it’s the same feeling.

Enjoy.

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10 Comments

  1. 1. Offer to buy the ‘local owners’ Lancia given that he has already had to move a number of his / her cars around to get to it anyway (remember to bring the car trailer with you!!).
    2. Find a Lancia Delta Integrale instead….

  2. Spend a little bit less and buy an Alfa Giulia gt/gtv in similar or better condition. There parts are cheaper and easy to get a hold of and there are heaps of good performance options. Similar formula, high revving, rear drive, front engine, Italian sports car from the 60’s/70’s with great handling?

    1. That’s the likely option if this doesn’t work out, Alex. But I’ll chase this through to a conclusion first. Too rare to let it go without a full investigation.

  3. I have found the same thing here in the US. I looked at a Jaguar XJ-S that looked great in the picture and description but it ended up that: (1) the picture was not of the actual car, (2) it really was a fixer-upper not a drivable dream, and (3) ants were swarming inside the car. I’m glad you had a friend willing to check it out for you.

  4. You know? Get a 105 and be done with it. It will not lose anything over time. It oozes Italianate automotive seduction and it drives SO well. great track car. The Fulvia looks to me in the ‘too hard basket’. Not so sure about the cracks in the paint in the A pillar. The chassis flex must out you off?
    Or better still, by an E9. Don’t bid. Wait until it fails. Then call and see what he will take. You would plough serious cash into this car so get it for less than 10K. I bet that no one wants to buy it tonight actually.

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