Last revised: 26-1-2009

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Lancia Coupés & Convertibles: the Flaminia GT

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Presented at the same time as the Pininfarina coupe was a far more surprising choice by Lancia: a Gran Turismo created by Carrozzeria Touring. This coachbuilder, dating back to 1926, was usually associated with Alfa Romeo until then and was famous for their special lightweight body constructions named Superleggera ("superlight"). Although Touring had established a name by creating some of the most wonderful bodies on the pre-war Alfa Romeo 8-cylinder chassis, they had fitted bodies on the platforms of a wide range of (mostly Italian) manufacturers, just like any other carrozzeria at the time. After the war they had to expand and professionalize to survive and actively sought to attract deals with manufacturers.
The first lucrative contract was in 1951 with Alfa Romeo to build the 1900 C Sprint coupe in various versions. In 1957 Touring landed a contract with Maserati to built the 3500 GT and in 1958 they added Lancia to their portfolio with the Flaminia GT, a 2-seater coupe. Their best known commercial body design however was probably that for the Aston Martin DB4 in 1959, which was continued on the DB5 and DB6 until 1970 and immortalized by the early James Bond movies. Unlike successive Pininfarina designs those of Touring were generally very characteristic and easy to tell apart. This was illustrated by the Flaminia GT: it was quite dissimilar from the Alfa Romeo 2000 Spider by Touring which also appeared in 1958 and didn't resemble the Aston Martin DB4 from the following year either. And yet they were all clearly Touring designs.
Apart from the Superleggera construction, meaning thin aluminum panels over a light steel tubular framework, and the corresponding badges Touring designs in the late 1950s distinguished themselves by a low stance and long stretched lines, sparse decorative elements (in a time of chrome opulence) and slightly angular front and rear sections. Generally Touring styling favored sporty yet tasteful and practical shapes for gentleman (or lady) drivers. In the case of the Flaminia this fitted in perfectly between the sedate elegance of the Pininfarina coupe and the exuberant round competition style of the Zagato Sport.

1960_Lancia_Flaminia_GT_2,5_TouringMost striking styling feature of the Flaminia GT was found at the front. Not only did it have twin headlights unlike any other Flaminia, they were also arranged in sort of a "Chinese eyes" fashion which was a popular designer gimmick for a very short while. It made the GT stand out but it was not to everybody's liking. The rest of the car was classic Touring style; modern, crisp and tasteful. The "turret-top" passengers compartment with panoramic rear window sprouted out of the long low body virtually in the middle, but the sharp angle of the rear pillar gave it an elegant flow and complemented the design as a whole.
Even though the GT appears long it stood on a much shorter platform than the coupe: its wheelbase was reduced by a further 23 cm. For the rest the GT had the same technical features as the coupe. In 1959 it came on the market with the 2,458 cc V6 that produced 119 hp @ 5100 rpm. At 1320 kg it was considerably lighter than the coupe and as a result its performance was more lively, culminating in a top speed of 180 kph.

1960_Lancia_Flaminia_GT_2,5_TouringAt the rear there were tailfins which were so fashionable in the late 1950s. The way they were incorporated into this design was admirable: rather than planting fins on the rear fenders the boot is gradually recessed, creating a modest valley between the slopes at the edges. From the sides the fins are unintrusive, hardly noticeable, while from the rear their sharp profile is crowned by the ingenious rear light clusters. The boot itself was shallow but long and wide and offered a practical luggage space, increased by locating the spare wheel under the floor of the boot.
In the interior there was only place for two, even though a vestigial rear seat was indicated by the leather upholstery. The individual front seats were more supportive than the "lounge" seats of the coupe, befitting a more sporting car. Like the coupe the GT had a floor mounted gearlever for the 4-speed gearbox.
Its driving characteristics were similar to that of the coupe but its more compact measurements, at 450 x 166 x 130 cm (length x width x height) for the GT, and reduced weight enhanced the qualities of the Flaminia. The GT was regarded as one of the best fast touring cars of its time with extraordinary handling, excellent brakes and sensitive steering.
This first series of GTs ended in 1962 and 796 were made. A slightly higher price and a more unusual styling than the coupe made the GT less popular at the time.

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