Lancia Fulvia Review from Netherlands

1970 Lancia Fulvia Coupe Rallye 1,3 S 1.3 petrol

Year of manufacture1970
First year of ownership2002
Most recent year of ownership2003
Engine and transmission 1.3 petrol Manual
Performance marks 8 / 10
Reliability marks 7 / 10
Comfort marks 8 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 3 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
6.5 / 10
Distance when acquired155000 kilometres
Most recent distance163000 kilometres
Previous carRenault 5

Summary:

Already a true classic, expensive to get exactly "right" though.

Faults:

Boy oh boy. I fell in love. With a classic Lancia, you better don't! This car has cost me so much money in one year, it's truly obscene. On my first trip, the brakes failed. Not just a bit, the pedal FLOORED. I saved myself and the car at traffic lights by means of the handbrake. That was basically the beginning of my forced relationship with Huib G., nationwide (NL's) Fulvia-guru and very nice bloke, too. He really gets the job done well - because he WANTS it that way, he's not just after your money.

I'll sum up just about everything that either failed and needed replacement, or was taken care of out of precaution:

* Total brakes-overhaul. I mean TOTAL.

* New old stock Dell'Orto carbs. Not cheap.

* New tires in correct width (145R14).

* New wheel-bearings aft.

* Re-tempered leaf-springs and new high-pressure gas shocks.

* New inner/outer sills and lower wing-halves.

* Overhauled: Steering-box, dynamo, starter-motor, water-pump, radiator, fuel-pump.

* Front sub-frame and engine compartment extensively rust-treated, new rubber bearings everywhere.

* Front wishbones, and suspension-bearings replaced/overhauled.

* Electrical system generally overhauled, new lower beam-units, horn fixed, flashlight fixed, warning-lights installed.

And lots of minor trim-work and you-know-what. Next year might see a clutch and engine-overhaul, but although the engine leaks a bit, it's generally still OK so I might postpone it one or two years... Expensive job, but at some point it will need to be done.

General Comments:

Let's face it, this is an extremely elegant car that looks so "right" it really can't be improved upon. An in-house job at Lancia, this 1965 design still looks fresh today. In 2004, Lancia are to release a modern-day Fulvia of which the prototype looks promising.

The Fulvia Coupe was an avid rally-contender AND winner; driving this car - especially mine, with rejuvenated suspension - through twisting country-lanes tells you why. Back then, whenever it rained during a race, the Fulvia won. Just about always. Under dry conditions it either won or ended reasonably close.

This is an entertaining, but not very relaxing car to drive; it has no overdrive and sounds a bit harsh when revved - which it needs to be in order to get any decent performance from the not-too-torquey engine. 92 HP from a 1,3 is pretty good though even for today's standards; back then it was amazing.

110 kph (±70 mph) is the best motorway compromise, although I've seen 170 kph in Germany while still feeling confident about the situation. Even without seat-belts, which under Dutch legislation it doesn't need to have (all pre-'71 cars!)...

It takes a heavy right-foot to get decent acceleration, since only from 4000 rpm onward - limit at 6200 - the engine really begins to pull. The car's true weakness is that it's just 100 kg's too heavy. Lighter versions with beefed-up engines were available, but are very scarce by now and REALLY expensive to run and maintain.

Next year will see the car's first major holiday-trip; by now, so much has been done already that reliability seems pretty good. I always keep some hard-to-get spare-parts in the car.

My Fulvia -she has a name: Emeralda (no "s"!) - is basically a car for sunny days only, and is kept in a sheltered parking at two miles from my home. For everyday use I drive -not without pleasure!- a 1990 Renault 5 TR.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 3rd December, 2003

7th Dec 2003, 12:25

Addendum by writer of review: It's a Series 1 - despite of it being from 1970. Still the much better steel quality than later models (Fiat-steel!) and, IMO, much better looks. It only rusts where water gets (or got, after fixing the problem-areas) trapped, never spontaneously at random spots.

Colour is Verde Ostenda, or BRG if you prefer that. :-)

Interior in light-brown vinyl. Stunning combo.

18th Nov 2004, 14:31

Further owner update:

Most recent work has covered complete 'box, clutch and engine overhaul. Work in those areas just couldn't be postponed any further. All engine parts have been overhauled by a company usually only working on racing engines, and has been lovingly re-assembled by Huib G. Still being broken in at this moment, the engine already displays great smoothness and eagerness to rev. The car now feels taut, well-kept and fresh in all respects. It bloody well should after spending a grand total of 26000 euros!

I went back and forth to the French Riviera earlier this year, and got a lot of thumbs-up and positive remarks; even in relatively non-car-minded France. It still ran extremely well during my trip, but it was just a week after coming back home that just about everything began to stutter and fail. I was just lucky to be able to enjoy and complete my holiday unmarred by mechanical failures!

Average review marks: 6.5 / 10, based on 1 review