Co-driver Mario Mannucci shouts “right two, left full, …” while Sandro Munari nimbly changes gears, clutches and brakes, simultaneously accelerating and forcing the Fulvia around the next corner.
Of course we are miles away from the talent of a Munari and nobody has settled down in the passenger seat. Nevertheless, every drive in the Lancia Fulvia 1600 HF feels like a rally special stage, not least because of the screaming engine and the close interaction of car and road.
It is definitely a hell of a lot of fun to chase the modified Fulvia through serpentines and narrow country roads. Gears can be changed in a flash via the five-speed gearbox, the needle of the rev counter twitches nimbly upwards.
The engine seems to hang on the accelerator, immediately converting every movement of the foot into acceleration. The front sluices open and the two Dellorto carburettors slurp cool, clear air so greedily that one can hardly get enough of the trumpet do in front. Modified almost 140 hp from 1.6 litre cubic capacity have an effect on 800 kg vehicle weight. There is no stopping!
THE LAST LINK IN A LONG CHAIN
When Lancia introduced the Fulvia limousine in 1963, the focus was simultaneously on tradition and innovation. The engine, shaped by the ideas of Professor Dottore Engineer Antonio Fessia, was the heart of the car. Similar to Lambda, Aprilia, Ardea and Appia, the Fulvia also had a V4 engine with a very small angle, namely 13 degrees. The valves, suspended in a 60-degree arrangement, were controlled by two overhead camshafts driven by chains. The cylinder head and crankshaft housing were made of light alloy.
This modern engine was mounted on a subframe in the self-supporting body, tilting 45 degrees to the left and six degrees backwards. The design resulted in a significant head-heaviness (65 percent of the weight rested on the front axle), which was well suited to a front-wheel drive car and correlated well with the suspension concepts – independent suspension with wishbones and transverse leaf springs at the front, rigid axle with leaf springs and Panhard rod at the rear. Braking was done with four disc brakes, which further underlined the sporting talents.
THE PRETTY COUPÉ OVERTAKES THE SALOON
Two years after the four-door saloon, the coupé with a shortened wheelbase drawn by Lancia chief designer Pietro Castagnero was unveiled at the 1965 Geneva Motor Show. With its low waistline, large window area and simple, elegant lines, it was a perfect match for contemporary taste.
Initially, the 1216 cm3 engine version in the Coupé produced 80 hp, which, thanks to good aerodynamics (cw 0.39), was sufficient for around 160 km/h.
Gradually, performance was upgraded and weight was optimized. The Rallye 1.3 S weighed only 925 kg instead of the 960 kg of the “normal” coupé, the 1.2 HF produced 88 hp from 1966 and the 1.3 HF 101 hp from 1968.
At the end of 1968, the 1.6 HF model was presented at the Turin Motor Show with the engine of type 540, which stood out from the other variants by yellow valve covers. This version was closely related to the factory rally cars of the Lancia sports group.
ENTHUSIASTIC PAUL FRÈRE
In the first months of 1969, the well-known racing driver and car journalist Paul Frère was given the opportunity to test one of the Lancia factory cars on normal roads for Auto Motor und Sport. The Belgian covered a thousand “lively” kilometres and could hardly find a hair in the Lancia soup.
The approximately 135 HP strong works car, which was based on the 1600 HF just announced at that time, accelerated from 0 to 100 km/h in 9.5 seconds and reached a top speed of 193.5 km/h with the long gear ratio. The tested car weighed 850 kg and was additionally lighter than the planned road vehicles (Plexiglas windows, no insulation, no carpets). However, part of the weight reduction was compensated by the tank, which was enlarged to 90 litres, and by the roll bar.
The sporty driving style resulted in an average consumption of just over 16.5 litres of premium petrol, which flowed through the two Solex C 45 DDHS twin carburettors. Frère described the car as very agile and extraordinarily good-natured, the handling was convincing due to its neutrality, but could be modulated with the throttle foot in under- or oversteer.
According to the test notes, the smooth steering and the pleasant suspension, which normal Fulvia models had, fell by the wayside, but in a competition car the direct but power-sapping steering and the hard suspension characteristics were easy to live with.
IN TWO VERSIONS
The HF was available in two versions, as a road vehicle with 114 hp at 6’200 rpm or as a performance-enhanced version with slightly more than 130 hp, which resulted in a performance similar to that of the works car. Common to all HF models built between 1969 and 1970 was the five-speed gearbox, the negative steering roll radius on the front axle and the mounted fender extensions which made room for the six-inch wide wheels.
The most important distinguishing feature, however, were the large internal main headlights which, according to Paul Frère, together with the other two, literally turned night into day, often to the annoyance of oncoming traffic. These large lights were also responsible for the nickname “Fanalone”.
There were different gear ratios and all kinds of accessories ex works, so that even private drivers could have a powerful piece of sports equipment at their disposal.
A total of 1278 units of the HF with 1.6-litre engine were built as part of the first series, today they are the most sought-after Fulvias at all. One reason for the not too large distribution is probably the not insignificant price, which for example in Switzerland was 18’350 Swiss Francs, much more than BMW charged for a 2002 ti or Opel for the GT 1900.
From 1970 onwards the 1600 HF was also sold in the model-maintained second edition and thus became considerably more corpulent. The car gained a whole 100 kg, because the weight-reducing measures were omitted. There was even a “Lusso” version with standard bumpers and comfort extras. The Fulvia HF of the second series was only partly suitable as a sports car, but of course it was possible to optimise it afterwards. On the positive side, however, the standard five-speed gearbox was also available, which now also had a synchronised first gear.
But the large central headlights and the fender extensions had disappeared. With 10.9 seconds for the sprint from 0 to 100 km/h, the Fulvia 1.6 HF was still convincing in the test of the magazine Auto Motor und Sport in 1971, with the top speed of 173.9 km/h less. Despite or perhaps because of the comfort orientation the second HF series sold better with 3690 units.
SUCCESSFULL IN RALLIES AND ROAD RACING
Between 1966 and 1974 the Lancia factory racing team used the Fulvia mainly in rallies. In 1972 the Rallye Brand World Championship was won, not least thanks to the victory in the Rallye Monte Carlo by Sandro Munari. But the Fulvia was not only successful on rally tracks, but in the hands of many private drivers also on circuits and in hill climbs.
And in accordance with these talents, the HF version of the Lancia Fulvia is also used today in historic racing.
As you could already read above, the HF was available in two versions, as a road vehicle with 114 hp at 6’200 rpm or as a performance-enhanced version with just over 130 hp, which resulted in similar performance to the works car. Common to all HF models built between 1969 and 1970 was the five-speed gearbox, the negative steering roll radius on the front axle and the mounted fender extensions which made room for the six inch wide wheels.
A few words about our “Fanalone”:
This is exactly the kind of road-going sports version of the Fanalone. He spent the first 50 years of his life in salt-free Italy and in the hands of a lancista who understood his craft. Not only the driving, but especially the entire handling of the Fulvia testifies to extremely loving use and always timely maintenance. Not only when Rome was burning, but obviously preventively, before a defect was present. The “Fanalone” has “matching numbers” and was delivered exactly in this configuration. Its aluminium parts such as hoods and doors are numbered consecutively and fit as well. Let us guess – the vast majority of these highly praised and sought-after street sport models no longer exist. Mostly the models you see by chance are well-behaved 1300s, which can make a similarly spectacular figure with little effort…but just underneath are more or less well-behaved mass-produced models.
Then come and visit us from time to time and start this Fulvia with us. After the first gas blast in warm condition and the choke-free out-of-round running in the idle speed you know where the frog is wearing the curls…
That’s the sound of engine works of art.
With great pleasure presented by your