If you are reading this, can we agree on a love of Lancias? Mine started with my parent's Flaminia about 45 years ago. Over the years, its matured into Fulvias, and then back to Aurelias. The Flaminia and Aurelia share the basic design of a V6 and a transaxle with either IRS or de Dion rear suspension. Over the years, I’ve grown very fond of that basic concept, the neutral weight, and the lovely chassis. But there’s always been this wondering… could it be improved?
And what would change if it were updated? One thing is more power - Thornley Kelham have been doing this by updating B20s with Flaminia engines. But what about the rest of the chassis - how about up to date brakes, better synchros…. What would say if someone made a similar chassis, similar but updated drive-train, with more power and good weight? Throw in some modern conveniences, anyone tempted? At the risk of upsetting Lancia friends, I was. So the Aurelia and Appia got a new sister.
When is an Alfa not an Alfa? Let's look at a Milano, from 1988. Maybe Alfa made it, but its not really part of their 4 cyl DOHC DNA. Rather, its much closer to the Lancias, its really an updated Aurelia/Flaminia - 60 degree all alum V6, de Dion transaxle, guibos in the driveshaft. And disc brakes that work, easy shifting, power steering (lovely), AC (necessary where I live), only 2900 lbs (lighter than a Flaminia Zagato, more power and less than 1/10th the cost), wishbone front suspension, Recaro seats, parts easily found, and cheap in the US.
OK - its not the most gorgeous thing in the world, but the Verde (75 in Europe) has the hotter 3 liter SOHC motor, with 190hp. It has lovely Lancia-like pushrods and rockers with its overhead cam (very clever), electronic injection. And... you can upset everyone. The family thinks why do we have this? Alfa people say its not of the spirit, Lancia folks think you've gone daft. But friends get it - it has a sophisticated chassis, easily fixed, all top caliper underneath. Take it out for the day or the weekend, and come home rested and with energy left over. The upper part of the car practically wants to fall apart if you look at it, but a one owner car with 65k miles has everything working and staying together for now. When something falls off, you tap it back in place. Its built simple and fixed easily.
There are other ways to go daft:
We've all appreciated the beauty of the shop, and the people who work on the cars. Sometimes we might think them as saviors, keping our beloved machinery going; othertimes, we surely are frustrated, and wonder who and why things are the way they... sometimes are.
While the range of emotions goes from high to low, I never thought to make much of it, rather to simply share with fellow car buffs and gear heads. But could there be more to it? Might these ups and downs have a classical sense to them?
It took a Chicago photographer Freddy Fabris (whom I don't know) to make the leap. And what a leap he made - redoing Renaissance images with modern heros, mechanics. The meaning is overt, but the settings, the lighting, the colors are lovely. OK, it might upset some, but lets just enjoy and have a good laugh together.