Rare catwalk beauty with Superleggera coachwork by Touring of
Milan; unfinished restoration with all the hard work done; runs and drives; an
exciting project with lots of potential
The Flaminia GT first hit the catwalk in 1959, its austere yet sensuous all-aluminium bodywork hand-built by Touring of Milan in their patented Superleggera style. Nine inches shorter and 170kg lighter than the Flaminia Coupe on which it was based, its all-alloy 2.5-litre V6 produced 138bhp in triple carb form and was good for 115mph.
Contemporary road testers universally admired the engineering excellence of the car, its superb brakes and tremendous ride and handling which imparted uncanny stability at all speeds and on all surfaces. Indeed there are many who would claim that it was the finest handling car of its day, bar none.
As with all Lancias of this era, the Flaminia was a technical tour de force with features like Dunlop disc brakes all round (inboard at the rear), a De Dion axle, independent front suspension and perfect 50:50 weight distribution by virtue of its all-synchro gearbox being mounted in unit with the rear axle. The quality of materials used and the standards of engineering excellence applied were far in excess of other, supposedly more illustrious, Italian marques. Indeed Italians have always regarded the Lancia as their finest, most aristocratic car, and not for nothing are they known as 'the thinking man's Alfa Romeo'.
The same might be said of Carrozzeria Touring, generally acknowledged to be the greatest of all the Italian coachbuilders whose refusal to compromise on quality was the main reason for their downfall in 1966. In fact the Flaminia GT was their last great design, produced when they were at the height of their powers along with the Aston Martin DB4, the Maserati 3500GT and the Lamborghini 400GT.
Costing as much as these other illustrious models at the time, the Flaminia's roster of jet-set customers included film stars Sofia Loren, Brigitte Bardot and Audrey Hepburn; racing drivers Juan Manuel Fangio, Peter Collins and Paul Frere; and playboys Roger Vadim, Prince Ali Aga Khan and Francoise Sagan. Just 1,718 examples were made before production ceased in 1967.
Dating from 1961, this Flaminia GT has the 117bhp 2.5 single carb engine which is generally reckoned to be more tractable and less temperamental than the triple-carb set up. Nothing is known of the car’s early history, but an old green logbook shows that it was first UK registered in April 1970 when it was owned by a Mr W Bateman of Ilford, Essex. In 1971 ownership transferred to a Mr R Gilbert of Romford, who was to keep it right up until 1999 when it was acquired by a Mr C Clarke Shrewsbury who in turn kept it until 2008 which is when our vendor acquired the car, although he did not register it in his name until 2012.
When our vendor acquired the car it was complete but had been off the road for some time and much of the dark blue paintwork had been stripped off for a restoration which never materialised. Our vendor entrusted the Lancia to Italian car specialist Steve Hobbs of Birmingham for a full restoration. An eccentric genius who would only work at his own pace and only on cars that he considered worthy of his attention, Steve spent many hundreds of hours bringing the aluminium coachwork up to his customary standard.
Although there are no invoices for this stage of the restoration, we are told that it cost some £25,000 at a ‘mate rate’ price of £25 per hour. His work speaks for itself and the fit and finish is probably at least as good as when it first left the factory 60+ years ago. Steve also got the car running and driving but then sadly fell ill and was unable to complete the job.
From 2015 – 2017 the car was entrusted to Hennessy Motorsport of Worcestershire, invoices showing that a further £12,300 was spent on the car during this period, again at a ‘mate rate’ of £35 per hour. This included a full repaint in Aston Martin Oak Green Metallic, a subtle colour which changes under different light conditions (see last photo). Interestingly, although green was never a standard Flaminia colour, it became apparent during the restoration that this car had originally been painted olive green, hence the decision to opt for a similar shade today.
Other work at this stage included: Solex carb overhaul; propshaft overhaul; radiator refurbished with new hoses and fresh anti-freeze; oil cooler refurbished; fresh oil and filters; new fuel pump and fuel lines; new ignition parts; new Cibie headlamps with halogen bulbs; new exhaust system; new front windscreen rubber; new set of correct Michelin X 165x400 tyres and inner tubes – essential to preserve the steering delicacy and ride quality of these thoroughbred cars.
A complete new wiring loom was also made and fitted by Winston Teague at a cost of £3,872. New mirror polished stainless steel bumpers were specially made by Group Harrington of Vietnam at a cost of around £1,600 and they are excellent, superior to the chrome originals in every way. The interior was sympathetically retrimmed by Andy Taylor, another eccentric genius, with a cloth headlining, woollen carpets bound in leather, black leather dash top, brown leather door cards and rear parcel shelf. The leather seats are original although they have been colour changed from cream to brown.
When Hennessy Motorsport relocated in 2017 the Flaminia was put into storage for a couple of years before being sent to Lancia specialist Tanc Barratt of Ludlow with the intention of getting him to finally finish the job off. Then Covid struck and the whole world ground to a halt, the Flaminia languishing in a corner of Tanc’s showroom ever since.
In August this year Tanc rebuilt the starter motor, freed off the gear selector rods and mechanism, replaced the gearbox oil and got the car running and driving again (using a slave fuel tank lest the original tank be contaminated), confirming that the engine sounded good, the oil pressure was healthy and it went through the gears smoothly.
As you can see in the photos, the car is now nearing the finish line and just needs an enthusiastic new owner who can carry out the final detailing yet required. Most parts to complete the job are stored in the boot, including two new door windows, a set of Superleggera badges and sundry useful spares. Copies of two factory workshop manuals (both in English, one 200 pages long and the other 50 pages) are also present and will doubtless come in handy.
As the car has moved between three restorers over the last 15 years it is possible that a few minor trim items may have gone astray. It will certainly need new quarterlight window rubbers, new window winder handles and a new steering wheel centre boss. No doubt other jobs will also become apparent as the car is gradually eased back into life.
This bespoke Italian beauty looks a million dollars as it is and should leave ample scope for the remedial works yet required at the guide price suggested.
For more information contact James on 07970 309907 or email [email protected]
* All charges are subject to VAT