Help Wanted: Lancia Fulvia Options

I’m currently looking for a Lancia Fulvia. As they’re relatively rare in Australia (there’s one for sale publicly right now, detailed below) I’ve widened my search to include vehicles overseas.

As I type this, I’m looking at three – maybe four – basic options. Your considered thoughts would be appreciated.

But first, a look at what I consider to be the ideal attainable Fulvia from the ones available for sale around the world right now. Attainable is important. There are more desirable models for sale, but at crazy prices. I don’t have that kind of money.

In fact, this car would be stretching the budget well beyond what’s reasonable, but if I were going to be completely selfish, this is what I’d buy.

73FulviaF1

This is a Lancia Fulvia 1.6 HF ‘Lusso’. The HF cars were like a 1970’s Lancia version of BMW’s original M cars. They’re the hi-po editions that were made to enable homologation of Lancia’s competition cars. The ‘Lusso’ version here is a more consumer-oriented car, slightly detuned and more comfortable than a pure HF (known as the ‘Fanalone’ model amongst the Lancia crowd).

73FulviaF5

This is a series 2 car. Series 1 cars are more desirable and thus, more expensive. You’ll note is has nice HF seats, HF wheels and all of its brightwork on the front and rear of the car but it’s still set up as a sports car.

This car is original RHD and strangely, is for sale right now in a non-RHD country (Belgium) – for 25,500 Euros. That’s $38,000 in Aussie money and then there’s around $5K in costs to get it here. All up, that’s way more than I intend to spend.

But that’s the ideal.

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Option 1 – Blue 1967 Fulvia Coupe (Australia)

BlueFulvia5This Fulvia Coupe has an interesting history – if only it could be verified. The owner’s story goes like this….

He bought the car in the early 1980’s and it had been off the road for 5 years at that point. He’s never registered it, either. It still has the registration sticker from the last year it was on the road legally, in 1977. The owner was young and moved around a lot for work in country Victoria, so never got to work on the car as he wanted to. Time passed, he got married and had kids. The car has been sitting in his in-laws’ garage for nearly 15 years now in non-rusty Canberra. He claims the mileage – just 22,000kms – is genuine.

Unfortunately, none of this is documented. It’d be a great low-mileage history and I don’t doubt the truth of it when it comes from his mouth, but in order to form part of the car’s history when it passes from one owner to another, you need to be able to back it up. That old registration sticker is about as good as the proof gets.

DSC_4405

The car hasn’t been started in around 10 years. I inspected it a few weeks ago in Canberra and we were going to jump-start it when we realised that the fuel was also 10 years old. We decided against it.

The car is structurally sound and the interior is absolutely fantastic, but the exterior needs a complete restoration and the mechanicals?…… who knows. You could easily sink $20,000 into this car. You’d have a wonderful (un-proven) low mileage Fulvia, but it’s take a hell of a long time.

DSC_4402

Pluses:

  • Genuine Series 1 car with aluminium doors, bonnet and boot lid.
  • Outstanding interior.
  • Quite possibly one of the lowest-mileage Fulvias in the world.

Minuses:

  • He wants a low five-figure sum for the car as it is.
  • No documented history.
  • Magical mystery tour of restoration with who-knows-what needing to be replaced after all those years idle.

Option 2 – Red 1971 Fulvia Coupe (England)

A friend of mine checked this Series 2 Fulvia out for me last week in England.

P1150912

The seller is a former Lancia, Ford and Saab mechanic and he’s owned the car for nearly 30 years. He built rally cars for the dealership he worked at back in the old days when dealers did that sort of thing and we swapped a few interesting Saab stories over the phone when I spoke to him. Bottom line – a very genuine seller and Lancia nut.

3638238

This is a turn-key car with little-or-nothing needing to be done IF you like your cars set up like a rally car. I prefer the sports car look, so the mudguards would have to go, as well as the extra spotlights.

Then there’s the seats…..

3638236

They’re actually really high quality Recaros with Sabelt 4-point harnesses. This is good, quality stuff but there are downsides. For starters, I plan to use this car 3 or 4 times a week and I just don’t know how long I could shoe-horn myself into those seats before I got totally sick of them. Unfortunately, the seller doesn’t have the original seats.

I’m also concerned about whether or not the modifications made to this car will pass inspection when I bring the car to Australia. Will the seats/harnesses/spotlights/unknowns be approved by the Transport inspectors or will I have to change them?

The other thing that’s missing is the brightwork around the front grille/lights and around the rear of the car. The seller has some of it, but some is missing and would have to be sourced. That’s not impossible, but it’s a pain.

P1160157

This car is selling for around $12,000 Aussie and would cost around $5K in transport, taxes, inspection and registration. At $17K, it actually represents pretty good value providing the body is sound. I have every faith in the mechanical integrity of the car but those salty English winter roads…. the seller says that he has waxoyled the car religiously but you never really know what lurks beneath.

Pluses:

  • Very solid owner who has loved the car to bits.
  • Some spare parts, special tooling and factory repair manuals come with the car.
  • Likely to be the best value-proposition based on condition.

Minuses:

  • It’s in England, which means considerable freight costs as well as Australian compliance checks – will the seats, harnesses and lights pass muster?
  • Rally livery not really to my taste (if it’s not a genuine HF then I don’t really like the idea of HF decals, etc. Just personal choice. Thankfully they’re removable)
  • Lack of original seats and brightwork.

Option 3 – Fulvia Sport Zagato Coupe (England, most likely)

I’ve never been that excited about the Zagato but one turned up at a local meet last Sunday and it was far more attractive in person than what they tend to be in photos.

The local car:

DSC_4487

That’s still a bit too ‘straight’ for me. But there are options available for re-making a Zagato into a pretty hot looking little sports car.

The car below is currently for sale in England and it’d make a good starting point. It’s what’s referred to as a Series 1.5 car as it has a Series 1 Zagato body (subtle but nice differences including the side-hinged bonnet made from aluminium) along with Series 2 Fulvia mechanicals (most notably, a five speed gearbox).

Zagato1

Zagato2

This car’s already got some nice HF-style wheels on it. Remove the front and rear bumpers, add some wheel arch flares and then lower it a little and you get a very nice stance. Change the headlamps for dual-round units with black surrounds and you get a very nice effect, too.

Here’s one in blue, care of the people who do this sort of thing for a living, Vere Lancia

Zagato3

Now THAT’s something unique …. but still with all the driving characteristics of the original Fulvia.

The red Zagato, above, is currently for sale in England for around $20K. Add the cost of transport and the customisation cost and you won’t get much change out of $30K – if any change at all.

It’s beyond what I’d like to spend, to be honest, but the uniqueness of the car appeals to my sense of the unusual a great deal.

Pluses:

  • Ad reads like the seller is quite genuine and knows what he’s got (but then they all do, don’t they?)
  • Unique and unusual option with some very desirable pedigree

Minuses:

  • It’s in England. Unknown rust issues and cost of transport are both to be considered.
  • Modifying a car like this from standard rarely, if ever, increases its value. You get unique, but you may not be making an investment.

Option 4 – Australian Fulvia not officially on the market yet.

This option only popped up yesterday so I don’t know much about it at all.

I was talking with a Lancia specialist interstate and he mentioned that there is going to be a Fulvia come up for sale soon as part of a deceased estate. The owner was a very fussy owner of several classic cars, the Fulvia being one of them.

Details unknown except the following: it’s a Series 2 car and they will be seeking a price in the low $20,000s. Rust will not be a problem and the general mechanical upkeep is expected to have been attended to religiously. All up, this is expected to be a very good car.

Given the costs of bringing in a car from overseas and the headaches associated with not really knowing a foreign car’s condition until it gets here, this might be the best option of the lot. It’s an Aussie car, already registered, ready to go.

I just don’t know who the seller is or when it’s going to come up for sale.

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Thoughts?

Those are the options. If you’ve managed to read this far without falling asleep, thankyou!

Your thoughts are welcome in comments. I’m most partial to the red Fulvia in England as I’ve got a lot of confidence in the long-term owner. Plus, the price is the most manageable for what is a ready-to-go car.

I’m intrigued by the local car that’s not officially on the market, though. It’s a bit more expensive, but involves far fewer headaches and is reputedly going to be a very clean example, too.

And in case you’re wondering why this is (still) occupying so much of my thought time (again), here’s a couple of video reminders.

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31 Comments

  1. I’m in uncharted waters here. This car is outside my AO, for sure.

    However, I’d be very, very hard pressed to spend $5,000 on transport for any car.

    Replacement seats are pretty easy to come by, and not that pricey.

    That’s all I can contribute, except to say that Lancia is a marque that’s worth the effort.

  2. What does your ‘gut’ tell you about the blue car? And what does your ‘head’ tell you?
    Naturally they are at odds with each other. This is an Italian rare sports car so logic goes out the window to a large extent. Also to consider is that ‘imports’ in Oz never really come up to values of the dealer delivered cars, even in the elderly stuff. Case in point, BMW E9 cars of the same vintage, also after silly money, are more valuable today than private imports, probably due to the rust factor. Which is why the blue car is still around in the condition it is. Take it on face value and you will gamble for sure, but with much less hassle overall with all the importation ‘guff’. Imagine too, if you brought something in that was shiny on the outside but cactus underneath. A local car is most likely to be tatty on the outside and good underneath. Consider the old adage too, that anything that is bolted on is relatively cheaper to fix, so if the engine and driveline is rubbish and it needs a refurb or even a rebuild, then it is still cheaper than overhauling the shell and substructures. Now that is really where you should be looking. Not on the exterior visuals. What does your gut say ? is there an emotional response from the blue car?

    Just my two cents…

    1. Well, I can certainly say that my heart wants to go and pick up that blue car! But I think at 10k+ it’s slightly overpriced for such an unknown quantity.

    2. Part of me definitely wants to take that blue car and make it my own. It’s basically been ownerless since the late 1970’s. Someone’s owned it legally but no-one’s used it and cared for it. I love the idea of taking something fundamentally sound and bringing it back to life.

      But I’m also cognisant of the fact that I don’t have the skills or knowledge to do that. It’s going to cost a heck of a lot of money and take a long, long time. Will the process be worth it or just prove to be frustrating?

      You’d have to do this job properly. The owner swears black and blue that the engine is great but also admits that it hasn’t been run in 10 years. Even if the metal bits are OK, what about hardened gaskets and perished hoses? You would HAVE to do a rebuild to have any faith in that engine. And the brakes. And……

      It’s still very much on my radar and I’m still in touch with the owner, but the price would have to be right and I’d have to know the car can run.

      1. I’d be less worried about it mechanically than I would about sorting the body back to good condition. It looks like it is in need of someone with a very meticulous eye, or someone with the cash to pay someone with a meticulous eye, to get it looking like the low-mileage car it’s supposed to be.

        As far as gaskets, hoses, brake lines, rotors, etc – all fairly simple stuff that eventually needs doing anyway. But there may be a lot of hidden problems in there amongst all those bits that move.

        Are the parts out there? If they are, that’s something, but I’m sure it’s not like BMW where you can call the factory for a brand-new part for your late 60s 2002 (like a friend of mine!).

        Like you, I think there’s something very romantic about bringing a car like this back from the dead.

        However, all told if you want a car to drive and not one to be a project, you’d probably be better of either waiting for the right car, or purchasing one that is known to be sound. If your pleasure will come from tearing it down and building it back up, this one is perfect (bar the price).

        As far as the Zagato-bodied models go – must admit I’m not such a fan, they don’t have the same elegance and timelessness as the coupe.

  3. My vote goes to the two Australian cars. The blue one is a bit of a risk, but you will end-up with a near-perfect car.
    Gaskets, hoses, brakes and tyres are relatively cheap. The car doesn’t look like it needs a complete exterior restoration from the pictures. It obviously needs a grille (unless it’s included). Everything else will buff-out, or you can leave it as-is for maximum street cred.

  4. Steven,

    Plenty of choices…plenty to look out for as well.

    First up…if an engine hasn’t been started for a LONG time…the FIRST thing to do is pull the coil wire, and see if the engine even turns over freely. If it does NOT, then pull all of the spark plugs, and spray in some “Marvel Mystery Oil” (or the equivalent product available in OZ) in the cylinders…let is sit for a few hours, then give it a go again, before allowing the engine to have any spark.

    Once it turns over, make sure you have some fresh petrol in the tank, reconnect the wires, spray a small amount of fresh petrol, or ether, into the carbs (assuming it’s not FI) and try to fire it up.

    I sold a car that had been sitting for 15 years, and the chap who purchased it did this, and the car ran fine once theses steps were followed.

    Of course you should also take off any air cleaners & check the heating/cooling ducts to see if you have any uninvited guests living in them. Rodents can get into some VERY small spaces in vehicles that have sat for years. ๐Ÿ™‚

    You can always bypass the petrol tank with a separate can of petrol, if you don’t want to drain the tank.

    A small magnet is another wonderful tool to use when looking for Bondo on the sheet metal. You never know what lurks beneath the paint work.

    However…if you are not mechanically inclined…or are…but don’t have the time or the interest…I would suggest purchasing the vehicle that needs the LEAST amount of attention. You may pay more up front…but you MAY pay less in the long run.

    You have some nice choices here…best of luck with whatever you end up with.

  5. Judging by the pictures and the fact that it’s a daily runner gives me the impression that it’s in a fairly good condition. The Johannesburg climate is very dry, so there should be no rust on her. You really don’t see them on the roads here. IMHO, Lancia’s weren’t too popular in SA and there have always been a stigma here, about older Italian cars. I wonder, with that in mind, if that’s perhaps the reason why this one is for sale at such a low price. There’s really no market for it. I’ve seen others too, but their condition looked far worse and at higher prices. I did spot a very nice looking Flavia. I’ll see if I can find the link.

    1. The deceased estate car was my immediate #1 option, even without the details. Sadly, I heard from one source last night that the car is most likely already sold. Will await confirmation, but it looks like I’m back to options 1-3.

  6. I saw a red Fulvia coupe in my town the other week. Very nice.
    And I’ve just been looking here: http://www.carandclassic.co.uk/list/27/fulvia. There’s a few interesting cars on there, in Europe and the US. The white Zagato is up for auction on Saturday in London. Might be yours for under ยฃ20k. I have bought at auction by proxy, but never anything as big as a car. Speaking of auctions, keep an eye on this 1.3s coupe. Might be right up your street. It is in Scotland: http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Lancia-Fulvia-1-3s-coupe-/321177850638?clk_rvr_id=507774842890

  7. Update to all:

    It looks like the deceased estate car has been sold but I’m awaiting some confirmation of that. There’s been another interesting development, however.

    The red Fulvia that first sparked my interest the model when it went up for auction on Ebay a few weeks ago……. as I predicted, the Ebay sale fell through. It’s available once again.

    Am looking to check it out further……

  8. Shame about the deceased estate car – That’s the one that would’ve intrigued me the most.

    Just browsing the net and I spotted this car:

    http://www.carandclassic.co.uk/car/C406622

    Reads well and looks good in the pics. I know the area well and think I may have seen this car in the past (I live fairly close).

    Unfortunately I’m away in Russia at the moment otherwise I’d have nipped over to take a look for you. Could be worth a call though…

    1. I mentioned on site at the time that the car was fundamentally OK, but there are flaws with it and the ad didn’t describe it properly. I figured there was a chance the sale would fall through because of that.

      Basically, the car’s OK, but the owner/seller leaves a little to be desired. I’m looking at it again because the car is well specified but I’ll have to manage him along the way and make sure the deal (if it happens) is the right deal.

  9. Swade,

    I am currently in the exact same predicament as yourself over here in Malta. Thankfully you posted all my favourite videos on the Lancia, and spoke about it in a similar fashion, so I take it we have similar tastes.

    Two weeks ago I went to see a local owner of an IMMACULATE series 1 Fulvia 1.2. I say immaculate because this thing is a proper Concours level of obsession. It has been owned for 48 years and has spent the past 8 years in restoration. I can assure you that you do not want that. If you’re like me, you’re all about the driving experience, not the fanatical obsession of having perfection (even though it would be nice to look at a perfect Fulvia everyday!). Hence what you need to decide first is on whether you want an investment, or a drivers car.

    Investment-wise, always go for a Series 1. They are the true Lancia cars, whereas any series post that are basically all built in Fiat factories. You can see literally see why Lancia went bust in the obsessive level of detail they have. Full stainless steel grills, no nickel anywhere, over engineered seat rollers, engine mounts, radiator mountings etc. It just goes on and on. Keep the radiator fluid and oil good and this car will last a lifetime. This man decided to restore the car after 40 years of flailing it about, it’s as close to perfect as I’ve ever heard of, let alone seen. The holy grail for this would be a Series 1 HF, but they’re rarer than a Fanalone tbh.

    If you want the true Fulvia driving experience, look no further than a 1.6 HF Fulvia, the holy grail being the drop dead gorgeous Fanalone. The Fanalone’s are nothing more than an overpriced dream car. Absolutely gorgeous, however mechanically no different than a standard 1.6HF. Don’t think that HF’s aren’t worth anything though. The Fanalone might be worth a lot of money right now, but if you find ANY HF, they will soon become a rare car, and will be worth a lot more than right now.

    What I’m doing right now is, unfortunately waiting to find the right one. I too am looking for a 1.6HF, however it is necessary that you avoid the hefty restoration bills. Else you will easily spend well over a decade restoring it before truly enjoying it. It’s not worth it in my view. This car is meant to be driven until it’s fuel tank empties. However, keep in mind, that at the end of the day, all you really want is to look at, and hear that lovely engine. Goodluck finding your dream car ๐Ÿ™‚

    Regards,

    1. Hi Matthew,

      It sounds like we’re looking for similar cars. I do like the idea of restoring one, but I don’t think I’ve got the patience given that I don’t have the money to do it in one hit.

      My preference is definitely for a series 1, but given the limited number available here I may have to be flexible. We’ll see what pops up (and how patient I can be).

      Good luck to you on your search, too.

  10. Hi Swade. You might already have seen this 1.3 Rallye S in South Aftrica – looks lovely to me, and a fair price. Interior looks good from this one shot. But you’d probably need someone in Jo-burg to take a closer look.

    http://www.carandclassic.co.uk/car/C374213#

    I’d expect it’d come in at 10-15k after shipping and duties? Perhaps a bit close to buying here in Australia, but another option nontheless. I’m lusting after a Fulvia in this silver colour more and more.. so if you did buy it, please think of me when you get bored with it!

    1. I’m a week or so ahead of you, Dan ๐Ÿ™‚

      I had a guy named Tony Salier who runs a business called Lancia Restorations in Jo-berg take a look at it last week. Both that and the red/black one. He advised staying away from the silver one. There was some evidence of splitting at the top of the front wheel arches (not evident from the photos, I have to say). It’s a classic symptom of the subframe being hampered by rust.

      He didn’t mention this in relation to the red/black one but did mention that the paint’s completely stuffed so it’d need a full respray. That didn’t put me off, but the fact that it’s a lower spec car than the silver one did. If I’m going to go to the trouble of importing, then I want to get as much car as I can.

    1. Before I read this post tonight I was looking at Alfa GT/ GT Juniors on line and thought, Swade ought to stop searching out Fuvias and get one of these. Not quite as daring and cool, but still wonderful. Then again, how about a 2002, Swade? I’m not a BMW car guy, but (perhaps because I lusted for them as a kid) the 2002 always did something for me. Other nice thing is that BMW still supports the car and parts are available. Either way seems you could get more for your money.

      1. German’s just not doing it for me right now, Pierre. I like the 2002, but it’s missing that certain something. It might please you to know I’d be more likely to go French before German (except maybe for a 911).

        Obviously Lancia don’t support the Fulvia anymore, but you can still get most bits new. There’s a very good support network out there.

        1. My mate has a 2002 (actually, it’s an Alpina 1602), and it’s a fantastic car, ahead of its time in many ways (independent front and rear suspension for one thing). It sounds absolutely marvellous, looks very cool, drives beautifully – no surprise it’s fuelled my inspiration to get into a classic.

          But I’m not sure you save much. His has cost I would guess upwards of 18k – and it’s not quite perfect yet! Very close though..

    1. The $5K includes all the fees and charges needed to get it in my garage and registered for the road. All part of the cost, I’m afraid.

      If that price at your link is in Australian dollars, let’s talk ๐Ÿ˜‰

  11. Hi,
    I’ve owned a series 1 Fulvia 2c Berlina for 16 years that had stood 21 years, and after my own experience with a piston ring breaking after deciding not to strip the engine, which meant a very expensive engine rebuild, with rebore and oversized pistons. I also had problems with gaskets that leaked oil, the worst one being between the crankcase and the block, with the only way to change this being a complete engine tear down, I wouldn’t chance NOT rebuilding the Blue cars engine.

    I know it’s your money and you can do what you like with it but if you intend performing the body mods please don’t buy the blue car or anything that is in original good condition, there are few enough of them about as it is without losing even more, besides which body modifications on Fulvias invariably decrease the value of your investment, so my money would be on the red rally prepared Fulvia which you’d have already said you would need to alter to suit your personal tastes .
    As you’ve already said though trim is hard to come come by for Fulvias particularily series 1’s, and I’d disagree with another comment that seats are easily available, if your talking original Fulvia that’s just not the case, as with all things you can more or less buy anything you want, but only if your willing to pay the price.

    If you can run to it though the fanalone would be great as long as you can confirm it is a genuine.
    original Fanalone, there are lookalikes out there pretending to be the genuine article.
    Be wary of South African Cars, a friend here bought one that had been shipped over to the UK by a Company in Capetown which appeared to be ok but very soon afterwards the troubles started and what at first seemed to be in good condition was a very cleverly disguised dog, costing it’s new owner many ยฃ1000’s to put it right.
    Just for information, not many people outside of the South African Lancia circles know that Fulvia’s were built under Licence in the Daihatsu factory in SA and carry a plate stating this by the original Lancia Chassis plate.
    Tony Seiler is also worth listening to, I met Tony when he was over in the UK earlier this year for the Lancia Motor Club Fulvia 50th weekend, and he certainly knows what he’s talking about.
    Whatever Fulvia you get I’m sure you won’t be disappointed as even 1.3’s are fantastic, I also used to own a series 1 1.3 Rallye Coupe and wish I still did, but when I’d restored my 2c back in 1999 I couldn’t afford to keep both.
    Good Hunting
    Fay66 UK

    1. Having owned a series 1 and currently a series 2, I prefer the series 1 in most respects and I have to say I’d be tempted by the blue car. I’d only buy from overseas if there was no option. The brown car in SA is a dreadful colour.
      Why don’t you get a car restorer or decent panel beater to check out the bluey ?
      Cheers from NZ
      Fulviator

  12. I have a 1969 Lancia Fulvia Zagato 1.3s for sale
    it was imported from the UK in 2003, I have since stripped and sodablasted the body and undercoated.
    It is ready for the body work to commence.
    Due to unforeseen circumstances i cannot complete the vehicle.
    You can see pictures on http://www.mylancia.com
    contact me directly – Glen 0421 273 060

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