Fiat, Lancia, Alfa Romeo: Affordable Italians Pt.1
We round up an accessible trio of junior Italian classics that won't short-change you of authentic Latin allure...
Fiat, Lancia, Alfa Romeo
We round up an accessible trio of junior Italian classics that won't short-change you of authentic Latin allure.
Think of svelte Sixties-style Italian classics, and I’m willing to bet your mind has reeled off ‘Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati’ – insert imagined screaming V12 or bellowing V8 to suit. These days, unfortunately, that sound and that shape will remain but a dream to most of us, with values of the big three reaching for the stratosphere.
But fear not. If you can see beyond the cylinder count, the sensual curves of a classic Italian thoroughbred from Fiat, Alfa Romeo or Lancia can still be yours for under $20,000. The sleek triumvirate we've selected all sport twin-cam four pots, four-wheel discs and five-speed manual gearboxes, giving them a level of on-road sophistication to match their mini-exotic looks.
Read Part 2: 1968 Fiat 124 AC Coupe
Read Part 3: 1971 Alfa Romeo 1750 GTV
Read Part 4: 1974 Lancia Fulvia 1.3 S
On a dazzling day in Melbourne, these Italian classics cut characterful figures among the bland modernity sharing the road. The Fiat 124 sits flat on the road, its Ferrari-esque gear lever and beautiful Nardi wheel trying to work harmoniously with the footwell pedals, which are offset to the right. The single, dual-throat Solex carburettor gurgles happily as Harvey runs the Fiat twin-cam to 6000rpm for the camera, its 185/70/13 rubber standing high-sided around the stunning Cromodora wheels.
The twin Solex carbs on the Fulvia also snarl as the Lancia makes up for its small capacity by being supremely agile and eager to rev. Its tall-looking canopy and high-set driving position offer good all-round visibility; just the thing for dodging snowbanks on the Monte. But it will still do seven litres per 100 kilometres on the highway.
Finally, it’s the Alfa, which combines an appetite for revs with slugging mid-range torque more completely than the others. Its floor-hinged pedals and Italianate driving position take some getting used to, but stir the five-speed gearbox’s wand and you are rewarded with brisk progress and ‘cammy’ induction roar.
With active clubs and parts suppliers around Australia, these three diminutive Italians can be well looked after. The fact that solid driving examples can be had for around the $20,000 mark – even less for the 124 – makes these stylish sophisticates hard to resist; that is, if you can find one that an owner is ready to part with. Most solid examples tend to be ‘lifers’… and the Fulvia coupe queue starts here.
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