Launched at the 1960 Turin Motor Show, the Flavia was a mid-sized executive saloon that slotted into the Lancia range between the sporting Aurelia and the luxury Flaminia. Developed by Professor Antonio Fessia, it bristled with the advanced technology that Lancia customers had come to expect from Italy’s most aristocratic and innovative car maker.
The saloon was quickly joined by a Pininfarina-styled two-door coupe on a shortened platform and a two-door convertible with coachwork by Vignale. All models featured a single carb 1,500cc aluminium boxer engine with front-wheel drive, Dunlop disc brakes all round and front suspension by unequal-length wishbones. With 75bhp on tap, the saloon could reach 60mph in 18 seconds with a top speed of 92mph.
For 1964 the engine was enlarged to 1,800cc and when tested by Autocar in January 1964 it produced 92bhp and 108lb/ft which made it good for 0-60 in 13 seconds with a top speed of 107mph. Autocar were much impressed by the new Coupe, commenting: “On rough surfaces the ride of the Flavia is quite outstanding… one is constantly surprised at the way irregularities can be stormed across without a murmur and hardly a tremor… The styling is elegant from any angle and the standards of construction and finish live up to the looks, even under the closest scrutiny”. They summed it up as: “A car for the connoisseur that would be a continual source of pleasure and satisfaction to its owner”.
This lovely 1.8 Coupe was assembled new in Durban in 1963 and was to remain in sunny South Africa for the next 35 years, hence the good state of preservation today. It had just two owners before the vendor acquired it from a colleague when he was working in Africa in 1985, bringing it back to the UK when he returned here in 1998.
Garaged throughout its life, it has never been welded and remains largely original, excepting the bespoke Afromosia wooden dash which was specially made for the car when the original vinyl dash became sun-damaged. It comes with a detailed usage and maintenance log extending right back to 1968 when the previous owner acquired it with 29,867 miles on the clock, a total which has now only risen to 92,260 miles, the genuine distance covered from new.
It has successfully completed many tours and rallies in South Africa and several in the UK, including two to the Lake District, and also went to Trieste and back for the 50th anniversary of the Flavia, a 2,800-mile round-trip during which it cruised happily at 80mph on the autostrada and never missed a beat.
Well-maintained and oozing character, it also comes with an original advertising brochure and Autocar road test from 1964, the original instruction book, workshop manual and spares manual. Sundry useful touring spares including a fan belt, water pump and petrol pump are also included.
Performing beautifully when we were treated to a short test drive on the occasion of our visit with an MOT until April 2019 with no advisories recorded, this lovely original Flavia is worth a closer look .