Curbside Classic: 1966 Lancia Flaminia Super Sport – Gotta Catch ’em All

images posted at the Cohort by Nicky D

A fun fact about the Lancia Flaminia: When they were filming The Italian Job (the one that actually was filmed in Italy with the particularly annoying ending, that is) and realized they couldn’t just crush an Aston Martin DB4 and hurl it off of a cliff; they decided that a Flaminia Coupe would do a very decent stand-in. Good thing it wasn’t one of these.

We are once again in the presence of something quite special. The beautiful Flaminia Super Sport that you see nonchalantly parked in front of an import garage, captured by Nicky D, is an extremely rare car. How Rare? At just 150 manufactured there are twice as many Mustang SVT Cobra R’s, more than twice as many Ferrari F50’s. The BMW M3 CSL is positively common in comparison at 1500 units. And yet someone has actually driven it out of its climate controlled garage and taken it for a spin.

He’s due for a very nice drive. The Super Sport is an evolution of the also Zagato-designed (and eye-meltingly beautiful) Flaminia  Sport which was created when Lancia unveiled the final revision of their revolutionary drivetrain: The first production V6 engine. Lancia didn’t actually invent the V6, those go all the way back to 1905 in limited production numbers and applications, but they were the first to recognize the advantages and place it on a production car.

More specifically, this car: The 1950 Aurelia sedan, the predecessor of the Flaminia. On its first outing, it produced a modest 56-horsepower and displaced a little bit less than 1.8-liters. Well, I say modest, although that is actually not bad for the first version of an entirely new engine configuration for normal road use that was also made entirely out of alloys and bestowed with Hemi chambers. Especially so for 1950.

This was bleeding-edge engineering at the time and Lancia was not just going to leave new enough alone. They continued making revision after revision to the design and, 14 years of development later, they released the ultimate version on the Super Sport. It had grown from 1.8 to 2.8-liters and it was now fed by three carburetors. Perhaps unsurprisingly, power had almost tripled from the original version. The engine on the Super Sport produced 152-horsepower (the normal sport had to make due with 140). All of it wrapped on a beautiful Zagato body.

Underneath the body you were not lacking in features either. Forget about such stone-age technology like drum brakes or deadly swing axles. You would find nothing of the sort of one of the crown jewels of the Italian Motor industry. To this day the Italian government keeps a couple of Flaminia limousines for formal occasions. I believe they should also keep one of these.

I am even starting a new paragraph just so that I can have an excuse to show another angle of it to you. Newer Zagato efforts such as the Aston Martin V12 Zagato may be perhaps more divisive in concept (some may think it is beautiful, and others may think it looks like a V12 Vantage with Ferrari California taillights and a large mouth bass-inspired grill), but I think all of us can find something to like on this design. The extremely short front overhang and those bulging sides, or the squared-off interpretation of the Zagato’s signature double bubble roof. It pains me to say this however, but I think that the first version of the normal Flaminia Sport wins the beauty contest over this one. The slimmer covered headlights and the more petite rear-end compliment the basic shape better than the later revisions. If I am honest with you, I am not entirely keen on the Kammback of the super sport.

Here’s the earlier one, for comparison, what do you think?

Anyway, personal opinions aside, I am just glad that cars like this are still roaming the streets despite the risk of oblivious drivers, coal-rollers, teens keying cars for fun, speedbumps, potholes, construction and drunk drivers. Even if they are outside just for a little bit in between maintenance sessions; It’s usually enough for someone who has an interest to stop and just soak it in.