We all love an epic road trip. What better car for an epic road trip, but a world rally championship car? Something light, small and quick. The Lancia Fulvia is one of our favorites.
The Lancia Fulvia is a great example of Italian automotive passion and engineering. Roads in Italian after WWII were not the best example of smoothness. It seems like the Italians just have a way of making cars that stir the soul and fill the mind with dreams. The Lancia Fulvia, named after Via Fulvia, the Roman road leading from Tortona to Torino, is one of the Italian passion cars. It stirs the heart with all of the right looks and sounds, and I just can't help but dream about driving it on any open road.
The Fulvia, launched in 1963, was the competitor to the Alfa Romeo Giulia and the Fiat 1300, but it was a much more radical and advanced car design. For starters, it was longitudinally-mounted narrow-angle V4 front-wheel drive for better balance and grip. To many, today and back in the day, a V-4 was not a standard engine design. Lancia was an innovator, a car builder unlike anything else on the market. Lancia knew how great the Fulvia was designed, that they wanted to show the world. What better way than in motorsports. The rally version Fulvia's won the Italian Rally Championship every year from 1965 to 1973, and winning the WRC's International Championship For Manufacturers, in 1972.
Although the innovative car company fought it's way to the automotive podium, but in the end this success did not translate to financial success to the shareholders or bank. Throughout the companies life, it was often on the edge of financial ruin, yet was so creative it continued to survive. The Fulvia was a great example of Lancia success. A Fulvia HF won two World Rally Championships, two European Rally Championships, and the 1972 Monte Carlo Rally. Not bad for a little car.
Yet the company found itself looking to Fiat for financial help, which kept the brand alive for several more years and several more rally champion cars. Today Lancia is not the company it once was yet Lancia remained the most dominant manufacturer in the history or rally racing. With 10 World Rally Championship titles. Cars like the Stratos, 037, Delta S4 and Delta Integrale have all become legends, but Lancia's rally greatness started with the FULVIA.
A little about our 1975 Lancia Fulvia S3 Safari edition. I probably should say, what we don't know about the Safari edition. The Fulvia came in 3 different series, S1, S2 and S3. The S3, 1974-1976, was mostly a S2 with some updates to meet emissions. Along with the standard S3 Fulvia came two special limited editions, the Monte Carlo and the Safari. I believe these two limited edition models were more of an exercise celebration car, than full on factory rally 1.6 HF cars. Instead these cars came with the S2 1.3L V-4, but with rally chassis features. The Safari: 1974–76. A limited edition with simplified deleted trim and unique equipment, all of which celebrates the Fulvia's participation to the Safari Rally. It came without bumpers, with matte black exterior trim, seats upholstered in denim cloth and leatherette, exterior badges (decals) on the bonnet and on the boot lid and also special numbered plaque on the dashboard.
Our Safari has started out as a safari for exploring what is what and why it's not running. Most of the issues we have been running into on the car is from being parked or stored for too long. The car is slowly coming to life. After restoring the fuel and brake system, we were able to enjoy a short drive. Unfortunately the wiring has some issues, no brake lights, poorly working headlights, and a few other issues to really take it out for a rally drive.
Thanks for reading and watch for future stories on this wonderful little cars.
Photos, believed to be press release images of the Safari edition when new. Below are some vintage ads of the Fulvia.