Lancia Flaminia GT/GTL/Convertible
Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 5
Carrozzeria Touring designed and built the beautiful aluminium bodied two-door Flaminias, these being easily distinguished by their four round headlights (rather than two on Pininfarina Flaminias), and a shorter cabin - the wheelbase was decreased significantly for the GT and Convertibile, allowing for only two seats to be mounted. The GT was a coupe, while the Convertibile was obviously a cabriolet version (with optional hardtop).
The GTL, introduced in 1962
, was a 2+2 version of the GT with a slightly longer wheelbase. The Convertibile was in production until 1964
, with 847 made in total (180 with the 2.8), while the GT and GTL lasted until 1965
, with 1718 GTs and 300 GTLs made (out of which, 168 GTs and 297 GTLs with the 2.8).
An Effortless Extension Of Your Personality
Despite what many believe of cars of the early 1960's, very few really had any sort of character. The Italian's were an exception - and Lancia headed the field. From the early 1950s onward it was the Italians who built andante con molto mosso into almost everything they made.
As Sports Car described the experience in their 1963
issue, only very occasionally did you discover an automobile
that became an effortless extension of your personality. Almost always it was a GT, and equally invariably it was a car that demanded that you change completely all the normal habits of living you had acquired over years of existence with cars that were essentially tin containers with a wheel at each corner. Dangerous too, if you take a moment to watch Signal 30
shot around that time.
For Cars Like This You Spend Weeks Organising A New Woman
Quoting Sports Car again ... "For cars like this you set aside an entire day for discovering new roads, new ways, new small restaurants in places nobody ever visits. For cars like this you spend weeks organising a new woman, probably a provocative brunette with smoke-green eyes and a slow, smouldering smile who can look damn sexy in a thick mohair pullover and stretch slacks.
"With her at your side, there to read a map or put a lighted cigarette in your mouth at the right moment, you can storm the countryside in seven-league boots at almost two miles a minute, planning your overtaking a mile ahead and booming by the normals with a wail of electric air horns so fast that they are left with senses stunned and a lasting feeling of awe."
A Lancia Owes No Piece Of Road To Any Other Motor Car Ever Made
Not politically correct, but the author does paint a picture of the 1960s car enthusiast - or at least, the 1960's car enthusiast many would have liked to be. No wonder Top Gear voted Lancia
as the best ever car maker. Passion as only the Italians can. The Aurelia was the first of the fastbacks, and quickly became a legend in its own lifetime becoming the heart and soul of those fortunate enough to have owned one. Back then, they had an enviable re-sale value and despite looking like a poor apology for an MG Magnette, they could point like a Lotus Super Seven and go harder than an Alfa Romeo 1600 GT Sprint. They were an intensely muscular and masculine car, like all Lancias, but they were at the same time sensitive, aristocratic and uncompromisingly arrogant.
In the 1960s most Lancias that reached Australia came in through Sydney's Lambda Motors, with long-time enthusiast Dick Sears being the catalyst for the enthusiast market. Jennings' Motors at Bass Hill (Sydney) became a specialist house for used Lancias - and the second hand market was strong. As mentioned above, a Lancia
held its value better than just about any other car - mainly because Lancia always built expensive, beautifully-made cars, and in the Flaminia series there were six body styles to choose from, by Pininfarina
, Touring and Zagato. From this era, one of the best was the 2.5 litre Touring bodied GT 2-plus-2, built on a wheelbase 131 inches shorter than the factory's own Pininfarina 4-door sedan.
The World's First True Post-War GT
As we have spoken of in other articles on the Unqiue Cars and Parts
web site, the Flaminia was descended directly from the Aurelia, the first of the big alpine-thrashers, which many considered then, and even today, as the world's first true post-war GT car. The guts were the same as the Aurelia - the tremendous all-aluminium V6 engine with inclined overhead valves
, rear-mounted clutch, and transmission
. The Aurelia's sliding-pillar front suspension
had been left to die the death of all vintage vignettes at the hands of Morgan
, but the Flaminia retained the later Aurelia's De Dion rear end. V6 engines were originated by Lancia in 1950
, and the one used in the Flamina GT was the work of brilliant engineer Vittoria Jano, who started with a clean sheet of paper, ignored all the theoretical balance problems that had scared designers away from the conformation, and turned up a brilliant 56 bhp 1721cc engine that soon grew to 2.5 litres and 115 bhp. It was considered remarkable for its flexibility and smoothness; the torque curve on the Flaminia was such that in any gear you could move away from idle without snatching or vibration periods.
While the V6 developed peak power at 5100 rpm, it had no perceptible "cammy" point and spun sweetly and smoothly right up to the indicated limit of 5500 rpm. It was not at all noisy, unless you counted some valve gear buzz and slight exhaust boom over 4500. Unlike most Lancias, which had their gearlever mounted high on the transmission tunnel, almost under the lower edge of the dash, the Flaminia's rear-mounted transmission dictated a remote lever. This was a heavy steel bar, slightly cranked, set just forward of the leading edges of the seats. All four gears were synchromeshed
, and worked in the normal H pattern, with a heavy spring-loading in favor of third and top. was is extremely positive, with fairly long throws to first and third gears, and while heavy it feels chunky and satisfying; the synchromesh
was unbeatable, but the clutch, although very smooth, had an over-centre action that made it very easy to snick a tooth during snatch changes.
Lancia Flaminia Convertible
Light, Sensitive, Accurate
But there was absolutely no transmission
noise at all, and the ratios were marvellous. Third would take you comfortably from 20 to 80 mph, and was a sensationally-good overtaking gear on the open road, except for the fact that the engine pulled so well right up to its limit that you would find yourself leaving it in top for most overtaking. The worm and sector steering
feed through a beautifully-made wood-rimmed steering
wheel that was set almost vertical on the dash and had telescopic adjustment. Lancia handling
had always been extraordinarily good, and much of this was due to the steering
which was light without being low-geared, sensitive without transmitting road shake, and as accurate as all get-out. In this car you move your hands not one centimetre more than is precisely necessary to place the front wheels precisely where you want them. It's that good.
Yet despite all this the Lancia Flamina GT had the ride of a true thoroughbred GT. Part of the reason for the exceptional handling lay with the brilliant Michelin X tyres
, which were shod as standard kit. On almost any surface the Flaminia would stride ahead without a murmur, despite fairly marked initial roll movement. It wouldn't go any further; just move into an initial roll and stay there. Dirt roads, bridges under repair, blind crests, or potholes would not make the Flamina GT flinch a millimetre or change line an inch. Brilliant considering this was an era long before radials.
was capable of enormous cornering speeds that seemed absolutely suicidal. The Flamina GT was unbelievably fast around corners, but you would not realise it until you sat and watched a driver at work in it. When you were behind the wheel the whole experience would seem positive, normal, delightful. After all, it was a Lancia. And they sure knew how to make a car handle
. But despite the Flamina's brilliance on the road, it did deserve some respect, and require a little acquantinance. You needed to work up to it in the Flaminia, a little deeper here, a little harder there. Owners claimed that it helped when you had driven an Aurelia first, except that ... "you use more arm with the Flaminia and the Aurelia would not know what roll movement meant".
The Flaminia was fairly neutral throughout, with a general bias toward faint understeer, but the final habit was oversteer which - despite the fact that it came in way up in the g force range - took over smoothly and easily. At first it was a trap for young players in that when the car started going sideways at those cornering rates you would bring on a bagful of opposite lock and invariably put on too much. Owners that changed tyre combinations soon realised just how much thought Landia put into their tyre
selection - the Michelin's able to almost entirely eliminate the twitchiness that set in high up. If you read Lancia road tests on other web sites, we suggest you take note of the tyres
in play - like any car, but particularly on the Lancia's - they made a huge difference.
Dunlop Stopping Power
Speed and handling is one thing. Adequate stopping power another. In fact, up until the 1980s, it could be argued that many manufacturers put enough thought into their respective brake setups. These days any (affordable) performance car will be fitted with Brembo's. Wind the clock back 50 years and the leader were Dunlop - and the Flamina GT had huge Dunlop disc brakes
all round. The Flaminia could stop with gentle pressure on the brake
, and never show any symptoms of wheel lock, wheel hop, fade, overheating, noise or any of those things which gave road-testers the shivering quits. In fact, the sensation is so unreal that you need several miles to get used to the g forces that can be produced with such relatively light pressures at the pedal.
The Greatest Touring Car Of The 1960s
All this added up to make the Flaminia GT arguably the greatest of the mass-produced fast touring cars of the 1960s. It was very comfortable, safe and pleasant cruising at 100 to 105 mph. These speeds may have tended to lose their meaning in speed intolererant Australian roads, but what it did mean was that it was a car capable of eating up the miles with ease, even if you never got to reach its full potential. The beauty of the Flaminia was that it was just as nice touring at 50 mph as it is at 100 - and there was little difference in sensation, apart from slightly increased wind noise. And if you could find a suitable piece of bitumen, it enabled you to put up with ridiculously fast averages without really trying.
If it has any deficiencies, apart from inefficient windscreen wipers and seats that were wonderfully locating fore and aft but too shallow and wide laterally so that you could slip off the leather in hard corners, it was the aluminium body. It was reported that, to ensure performance, the alloy panels were thin, such that by leaning heavily on the car it was possible to create small dents. Usually these were easy enough to knock out without damage - and on the flip side it did mean the body would not rust. Design wise Touring did a very good job with the body, except that comparing it with the gorgeous convertible you got the impression that the GT was the convertible with a tin top. Regardless, it still looked good from any angle, except that the back was a bit haunchy.
Behind the Wheel
The seats were trimmed in leather, with the door and headlinings in pvc, but while the centre tunnel was carpeted the floor had rubber matting. The handbrake was a large, clumsy affair pivoted sideways under the dash. Two big dials in front of the driver housed the speedo
(at left) and tacho
- the latter also including a clock and sundry warning lights, while the speedometer
included gauges for fuel, oil pressure
and water temperature
. A row of unlabelled knobs in the centre looked after wipers, cigarette lighter, headlights, instrument lighting, interior light and the heater blower. The handbrake and choke warning lights were wired in together and there was also a warning lamp for low fuel level.
The heating system controls were bafflingly complex, and there were stalks for headlight flasher and trafficator-cum-dipswitch, except that the latter was replaced with a separate trafficator switch for Australia. An ashtray sat in the top centre of the dashboard with a glove-box at far right. Big cold air boxes (similar to a 1960s Falcon) were good for Australian summers. Each of the two long, but light doors carried an armrest shaped as a door pull. The seat backs, finely adjustable for rake and good for dozens of driver shapes, tilted forward to a carpeted rear compartment that represented the second half of the 2-plus-2 definition. Room there was minimal, but the boot was vast, stretching far into the car and holding an incredible tool kit that even included a collapsible red breakdown warning triangle (then compulsory in Italy).