Although Ferrari has now well and truly stolen the limelight from the rest of its Italian brothers, there was a time when Enzo didn’t always have it his own way. Before the Scuderia took Europe in its vice-like grip, Italy had a number of successful brands, all competing to knock each other off the top step.
Away from Modena, across the flat plains of Northern Italy in Turin, Lancia has long been one of the established elite, proudly standing since 1906 as one of Italy’s automotive aristocracy, alongside Alfa and Maserati. Remember, neither Ferrari nor Lamborghini can trace their lineage back beyond the 1930s.
But in recent times Lancia has fallen on hard times, leaving it only really sold in Italy, and even then as rebadged Chryslers. So it’s all the more surprising to find a classic one lurking in a garage in Dubai’s suburban sprawl.
This beautiful little car is a 1972 Lancia Fulvia 1.6 HF, owned by Dubai-based Henry Mainwaring. It sports a roll-cage and race harnesses, but retains the standard car’s interior.
It also wears a much sought after set of Cromadora wheels. Henry had been looking for years for a Fulvia, but kept just missing out on them.
“I’ve wanted one for 15 years, but every time I saw one on the Internet or at an auction, I’d either get outbid or someone would buy it before I got there,” he says.
The Fulvia itself was named after Fulvia Flacca Bambula, the aristocratic wife of Mark Anthony, the famous Roman General. Among its typically Italian quirks was its compact V4 engine. A quick peek under the bonnet reveals an engine that looks like it’s fallen off its mounts. The block sits at an odd angle over on the left side of the engine bay.
But despite the odd engine location, the Fulvia really handles. When it was first released in 1963 motoring experts loved it and the car would go on to win the International Rally Championships for Lancia in 1972. The car was a great success and luckily for Henry many found their way out of Italy.
“I also wanted a right-hand drive one, as at some point I’ll take it back to the UK where I’m from. Luckily, you can now register a right-hand drive classic in Dubai, so that’s worked out perfectly,” he says.
The little Lancia starts after a single turn of the key and instantly gives you that raspy sound of a highly-strung four-pot motor. This car has the upgraded Dellorto carbs, rather than the standard Solexs. On the road, it’s nippy and eager, all good traits for a fun bit of classic motoring. Henry has some major plans for the Fulvia over the coming summer.
“I want to get the car resprayed and sort out a few mechanical issues. I’ll also remove the bumpers and add some rally spotlights. We’ll see how it goes.”
Whatever Henry plans for the car, this little car’s perfect proportions will look great out on Dubai’s roads. It’s the ideal antidote to the big, brash V8s most of us choose to drive and something probably unique in the UAE.
If the Fulvia tells us one thing, it’s that great things often come in small packages.
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