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by Jay Traugott
This is perhaps the perfect embodiment of Italian design and innovative engineering.
There was a time when Lancia was cool and not a brand whose entire lineup pretty much consisted of rebadged Chryslers. Corporate takeovers do that. Founded in 1906 in Turin, Italy by two Fiat
racing drivers, the automaker has had many highlights over the years. Perhaps two of the best examples include the 1913 Theta, which was the first European production car to have a fully electrical system, and the Stratos which is perhaps one of the most famous road and rally race cars ever built.
Lancia also developed the Lambda, the first car with a monocoque body, as well as installing the first five-speed manual transmission into a production car. In the engine department, Lancia was once again a pioneer. In 1950, Lancia engineers developed the first series production V6 which forced other automakers to take note and follow suit. It also produced the first V4 engine and continued development of V8 and V12 configurations. If that's not enough, Lancia made a huge industry contribution by using an independent suspension in its production cars during a time when the live front and rear axle configuration was dominant.
All of this took place when Lancia was still a rather small and independent automaker before Fiat bought it in 1969. With a few exceptions (namely the Stratos), this was the beginning of the end of Lancia's revolutionary production cars and creative engineering methods. While Fiat maintained that status quo for a while, Lancia slowly began to lose its identity. Today, it's seen as a conservative brand that appeals to mainly older buyers. Before this went down, the Flaminia, built from 1957 until 1970, was the brand's flagship model and not only was it beautiful, but it featured many of the chassis, suspension, and engine developments that Lancia developed.
Sold as a coupe, sedan, cabriolet, and limousine, the Flaminia's design came courtesy of Pininfarina. The name "Flaminia" came from Lancia's tradition of naming its models after ancient Roman roads. But it was in 1957 when Zagato came into the picture when they took its styling pens to the Flaminia coupe. Featuring Zagato's famous double bubble roof design, the aluminum-bodied Flaminia Zagato Sport was built on a shortened wheelbase from that of the standard GT coupe. Among other things Zagato also restyled are the front headlights by ditching the squared off look in favor of rounded units.
Aside from Zagato's always beautiful work, power came from a V6 engine mated to a five-speed manual. Lancia and Zagato soon launched the Sport's replacement, appropriately called the Super Sport. Changes included the new tear drop headlights, a redesigned and more aerodynamic rear end and, perhaps more importantly, a new 2.8-liter 152 horsepower triple carb V6 under the hood. This particular 1967 example that's currently up for sale on eBay is painted in what's called Newmarket Grey with a gorgeous red leather interior with wood trim.
Back in the 1970s it belonged to a collector who owned it for 31 years where it was kept in a fully climate controlled environment and maintained both cosmetically and mechanically. It has since been restored and has just 6,594 original miles on the odometer. Beauty however doesn't always come cheap as this Flaminia Zagato Super Sport has an asking price of $215,000.