The Fulvia’s victory in the 1972 Monte Carlo Rally enthralled Italians and inspired a national fervour for rally racing. It also laid the foundations for a magnificent succession of Lancia victories with cars such as the Stratos, Rally 037, Delta S4 and Delta Group A. For FCA Heritage, participating in the Cesana-Sestriere hillclimb with the legendary No.14 car that won the 1972 Monte Carlo Rally is just reward for the fans who have never stopped loving it.
The Lancia Fulvia was introduced in 1963 as a close relative of the larger Flavia, from which it inherited some parts, built around a front subframe that supported all the mechanicals. Incorporating independent suspension with a transverse leaf spring at the front and a solid axle on leaf springs at the rear, the Fulvia also had four-wheel disc brakes. The front-mounted engine was cantilevered in front of the wheels, had a compact, narrow V configuration with four cylinders and was canted to the left by 45 degrees. The car had front wheel drive and a four-speed gearbox, which was later modified to five speeds.
The Fulvia Coupé was introduced two years later and designed by Piero Castagnero, who drew inspiration from Riva motorboats in creating an elegant and stunning 2+2 small car with a shortened wheelbase and a well-lit cabin, which had much more slanted front and rear windshields than the saloon version. The first Coupé was fitted with a 4-cylinder 1216 cc engine producing 80 hp, which was soon raised to 1.3 litres and eventually to 1.6 litres. Its trademark elegance did not prevent the HF Squadra Corse team from using it in competitions and particularly rallies, thereby stimulating the expansion of the range.
The Fulvia Coupé spawned the HF versions, which were built for racing and had a slightly more spartan trim with no bumpers, aluminium doors and front/rear bonnets and tuned-up engines. The first HF was equipped with a 1216 cc engine boosted to 88 hp and a four-speed gearbox (435 units from 1966 to 1967). It was followed by the 1.3 HF with flared wheel arches and an output of 101 hp (882 units between 1968 and 1969, with later ones trialling a five-speed gearbox). In 1969 came the 1.6 HF, nicknamed Fanalone (or Fanalona) meaning "big headlamps", on account of its oversized headlights. It produced 115 hp (130 hp in the 1016 version) and 1258 were built, plus another 20 chassis for the Squadra Corse team when the second series was already on sale. The Fulvia Coupé 1600 HF second series did away with the aluminium parts and was mostly produced in the Lusso ("Luxury") version, with a total of 3690 produced from 1970 to 1973.
The Fulvia Coupé made its racing debut in the 1965 Tour de Corse with Leo Cella in the driver’s seat, but its crowning achievement was Sandro Munari and Mario Mannucci’s career-defining victory in the 1972 Monte Carlo Rally in their No. 14 Lancia Fulvia Coupé 1.6 HF.
All the 1.2 and 1.3 HF cars were painted in a dark red shade called Amaranto Montebello, with a blue-on-yellow longitudinal stripe (the colours of Turin) on the bonnet, roof and boot lid. The first 1.6 HF models sported the same livery, whereas later ones were mostly painted in Corsa red. All of these red cars had a matte black bonnet to reduce glare. With that livery, the legendary HF No. 14 beat more powerful and agile competitors into submission over the Col de Turini on 28 January 1972.
Battered by rain and snow, the French team threw in the towel, while the Germans paid the price for their overpowered cars. On the icy hairpin bends of the Turini mountain pass road, the "Fulvietta" driven by Munari/Mannucci proved unbeatable, while the team victory was also secured by the contributions of Lampinen/Andreasson in fourth place and Sergio Barbasio in sixth, alongside navigator Pierino Sodano. It was memorable night that came towards the end of the Fulvia’s long and decorated career. However, that 1972 Monte Carlo swansong had a regenerative effect on the whole Lancia brand, boosting sales and popularising a sport that had previously struggled to capture the imagination of the Italian public.
The Fulvia 1.6 HF start winning in 1969 with Barbasio in the Elba Rally and Harry Kallstrom in Spain and in the RAC Rally, followed by numerous participations and victories into 1973 and beyond. Perfectly preserved, still with marks on the bodywork from that triumphant night in Monte Carlo, the legendary HF 1.6 still provides an exhilarating experience for drivers. It also thrills the passionate spectators who follow it along the route of the Cesana-Sestriere, particularly those crowded on the hill above the last big right-hand hairpin bend, shortly before the finish line in Sestriere.
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