Some cars are a bad influence on drivers. That Maserati Ghibli from a few weeks back certainly is one. Other cars, though? They can be the opposite, bringing out the best in someone, help them rise to the occasion. This Lancia Flavia looks to be one of those.
On the face of it, there’s a lot that this car shares with the Maserati. They’re both ‘60s GT cars from Italy. They both got their lines from the big design houses (Ghia in the case of the Ghibli, Pininfarina for the Flavia). They were both designed to eat up the miles between European spa towns on the shores of lakes and on the slopes of mountains. But despite all that, they make very different impressions on their drivers, their passengers, and the people who see and hear them thunder by.
We talked about what kind of effect the Ghibli could have on drivers before. It’s just not a car that lets you be a respectful and equitable sharer of the road. With a loud V8 and just two seats inside its long and lanky body, the Ghibli is a physical manifestation of self-indulgence. Sure, the rest of the world gets to see it when you’re out driving, but that glimpse is just a tease. To enjoy it, you’ve really gotta be behind the wheel, accelerating into the distance. while everyone else is in the dust.
That’s not the case for this Lancia. A much more substantial car than the Ghibli but with a far smaller engine, the Lancia doesn’t need to make a loud entrance. It doesn’t need to get anywhere all that quickly. It just needs to be comfortable enough and pretty enough to carry its driver and their friends in style from a quick dip in the Adriatic to drinks at Harry’s in Venice and on to Margot’s chalet up by the Swiss border.
The 1.8-litre four under the hood is more than capable of that. Is it as dramatic as the big V8 in the Ghibli? No, it is not. But when you’ve got such a pretty car with such a pretty interior like this one’s got, you don’t want the trip to go by so quickly, and neither will anyone you pass either. And when you get to the mountain passes you’ll still get to have fun thanks to that transaxle keeping weight distribution nice and even.
Behind the wheel, I’m sure I’d immediately internalise the generosity and grace embodied by this car. I’d give way to people making turns even when I don’t have to. I’d make another pass by if I could tell someone’s day was made by seeing it. Your friend needs a ride out to dinner? I’d make sure there’s room, even if I don’t know them. That’s just the kind of effect a 1965 Lancia Flavia has on you. It breeds magnanimity.
At least I think it does. I’ve never actually driven one and I’m not going to own this one (at least this time around) but I’d like to believe that this is a car that brings out the best in those behind the wheel. I think I’m on to something, at least.
This Lancia Flavia is for sale here at BringATrailer. The odometer shows around 95,000 kilometres. It was repainted in 2013 as part of a pretty comprehensive refinishing that’s documented in the listing. The auction ends on Wednesday so you’ll need to jump in soon if you think you’re a good candidate. Just don’t be an arsehole if you do.