At the Turin Motor Show in 1955, Pininfarina presented the Lancia Florida, a concept for an elegant and luxurious saloon. It would have a profound influence on the production Lancias that would follow.
In the same year Giovanni Gronchi was elected President of the Italian Republic. It was he who, in 1961, allowed Battista Farina, whose nickname was Pinin, to change his family name to Pininfarina.
The Florida was based on the mechanics of the Lancia Aurelia, with a front-mounted V6 engine, a rear transaxle (gearbox in unit with the rear axle), and de Dion rear suspension. Just as with the Aurelia, this gave almost perfect weight distribution. There were two Florida concepts: the 1955 Florida I was a saloon with rear suicide doors; the Florida II, presented a year later at the Salon International de l’Auto in Geneva, was a 2-door coupé, and became Battista Farina’s personal car.
These two concepts would form the basis for the production Flaminia. A prototype Flaminia saloon was shown at Turin in 1956, still with suicide rear doors. By the 1957 Geneva show the production car had conventional doors. The saloon was designed by Pininfarina and was the only version of the car to be built by Lancia themselves, and the only body to last through the entire production period from 1957 to 1970. Nearly 4,000 were built.
And now we come to the Flaminia Coupé in our Snapshot. It was revealed at the 1959 Turin Motor Show and continued the sleek lines of the Florida II. It was not only designed by Pininfarina but also built by them. 5,236 Coupés were built up to 1967, thus remarkably outselling the saloon by some margin – a tribute, quite possibly, to their superb styling.
The chassis of the coupé versions were also used by the Touring Superleggera to create the even more exotic Flaminia GT and Convertible, and Zagato made the aerodynamic racing versions, Flaminia Sport and Super Sport.
President Gronchi returns to the history of the Flaminia: he appointed Lancia and Pininfarina to create the “Presidenziale” convertible, which made its debut during the official visit of Queen Elizabeth II in 1961. Four cars were built, based on the chassis of the Flaminia saloon with extended wheelbase. Following a long-standing tradition of the Quirinal Palace, they were named after four thoroughbred horses: Belfiore, Belmonte, Belvedere and Belsito.
Photo courtesy of The Richard Roberts Archive: www.richardrobertsarchive.org.uk