Like all Lancia vehicles designed and built before that storied automaker was taken over by Fiat, the 1960s Flavia was a truly innovative automobile. The lovely two-door Flavia Coupe, whose mature-yet-rakish lines evoke Ferraris and Maseratis of the era, cloaked its sophisticated mechanical package in designer styling to offer an exclusive driving experience. You’d think a low-production classic car with this pedigree would be prohibitively expensive, and this Flavia Coupe’s values have risen appreciably in the last year alone, lending credence to your hunch. As this new decade begins, they’re still approachable, but we have to wonder: for how much longer?
When the Flavia Berlina debuted at the 1960 Turin Motor Show, it represented a fresh concept for its home country. This was Italy’s first front-wheel-drive car, and that wasn’t its only notable feature—standard equipment that was unusual in its day included power-assisted four-wheel disc brakes and a double-wishbone front suspension. Within two years of its introduction, this conservatively styled six-seat, four-door sedan had gained three, more stylish variants, each riding on a shortened wheelbase and prepared by a prominent Italian carrozzeria: The body of the soft-top Spider was styled and built by Vignale, the quirky-but-sleek Sport came from Zagato, and the elegant Coupe was a product of Pininfarina.
Emerging from the Turin workshop of that prestigious firm already heavily associated with the Maranello marque behind the Ferrari 250 GTE 2+2 that shared a similar aesthetic, the Flavia Coupe was initially powered by a high-compression, twin-carbureted 90-hp version of the Berlina’s water-cooled, all aluminum 1.5-liter flat-four engine; a 92-hp, 1.8-liter version became available in 1963. A floor shifter for the four-speed manual transmission replaced the four-door’s column shifter, underlining this model’s performance- biased intent, while its plush interior and demure body design spoke to the car’s grand touring ability. This was a connoisseur’s car, priced above a comparable Alfa Romeo—one that cost an eyebrow-raising $4,715 upon its introduction, or the inflation-adjusted equivalent of $40,180. The attractive two-door received a substantial, modernizing facelift and a name change (“2000,” signifying increased displacement) in 1969. The market for this exclusive compact proved modest, and Pininfarina would build just under 20,000 examples in the entire production run, which stretched through 1975.
Despite this Lancia’s style, interior comfort, and reasonable performance, it was never valued as highly as its flashier Vignale and Zagato siblings. Twenty years ago, a 1.8-liter Coupe had a price range of $2,350 to $8,800; in today’s money, that’s about $3,650 to $13,600. NADAguides now indicates the same car, in a retail setting, could fetch between $7,125 and $50,500. The insurance experts at Hagerty suggest a notably higher range that is more in line with what Lancia aficionados agree are proper values for the Flavia Coupe: $18,900 for #4 “fair” condition, $28,800 for #3 “good,” $41,600 for #2 “excellent,” and $65,200 for a pristine example in #1 “concours” shape. Granted, that’s a lot of money for a four-cylinder GT, but compared to the quarter- to half-million-plus commanded by the aforementioned Ferrari 250, this Flavia is an undeniable bargain.