With the Quirinal Palace as the setting, the Lancia brand celebrated its 115-year history and the 60th anniversary of the Italian President’s Lancia Flaminia.
“Tomorrow is a special day for this brand and for this country. Such a double celebration fills us with pride,” noted Luca Napolitano, Lancia CEO. “The Quirinal Palace gave us the opportunity to combine the brand’s 115th anniversary with the 60th of the presidential Flaminia. These are two highly significant celebrations for Lancia and its wonderful cars, the result of the creative ingenuity of so many engineers and designers. Their timeless style has made them true standard-bearers for Italy all over the world. And by leveraging this glorious history, we are ready to tackle our 10-year plan toward an increasingly sustainable mobility.”
Lancia – 115 years of timeless Italian elegance
The Lancia brand was founded in Turin on November 27 1906 by Vincenzo Lancia and Claudio Fogolin, both Fiat employees and car enthusiasts.
Vincenzo was already well-known in the automotive world, having taken various sporting victories at the wheel of Fiat cars.
The first car produced in 1908 was the Lancia 12 HP, a decidedly unconventional car for its time. Its chassis was low and lightweight, fitted with a drive shaft rather than chains, and it would become a genuine success story for its time with sales of over 100 units. Lancia’s fame grew and the brand got through World War I, after which other high-quality models would follow, including the Lambda, Augusta and Aprilia.
To follow World War II, in 1950 Lancia unveiled the Aurelia, the first car in the world with a V6 engine. The model would go on to win various competitions, persuading Gianni Lancia – Vincenzo’s son – to found a racing department focused on competing on the road. It went on to be called the Scuderia Lancia.
In 1956, the brand moved on to high-end cars: the icons of the 60s were the Flaminia and Flavia, the latter the first Italian car with its engine under the bonnet and front-wheel drive.
In the early 1970s, the sports department was revived and went on to dominate the world of rallying for over 20 years, with the Stratos, the 037 and later with the Delta. Lancia was then admitted to the Mount Olympus of motorsport: fifteen World Rally Championships, three Constructors’ and Endurance World Championships, one 1000 Miglia, twice the Targa Florio, once the Carrera Panamericana.
Beyond the sporting field, 1985 saw the debut of the compact Y10 at the Geneva Motor Show. This model would go on to revolutionize the concept of a city car. The Ypsilon soon became a very successful line: over 35 special series, 4 generations, the leader of its segment in Italy. The Ypsilon is the longest-standing and best-selling Lancia ever, with over 3 million units purchased.
The presidential Lancia Flaminia – Italy’s ambassador to the world
The Lancia Flaminia was launched in 1957 at the Geneva Motor Show: a high-class flagship, equipped with a 2.5-liter V6 engine and luxury interiors and finishes.
The Lancia Flaminia was quickly enhanced with special series, made by coachbuilders, then in 1961 Pinin Farina produced the long-wheelbase presidential convertible, known as “335”, indicating the dimensions of the wheelbase in centimeters. The car was used for the first time by President Giovanni Gronchi during Queen Elizabeth II’s visit to Italy. Within a few months, four models had been made. To continue the tradition, they were given the names of thoroughbred horses from the former papal stables, the Scuderie del Quirinale: Belfiore, Belmonte, Belvedere and Belsito.
Belfiore, Belmonte and Belvedere featured a cabriolet body with a folding rigid canvas soft top, while the latter – Belsito – came with an unopenable canvas soft top above the driver’s seat.
Painted in iconic midnight blue, all these models included black Connolly leather upholstery, an intercom to communicate with the driver, with space for 5 passengers on a large rear bench with 2 further fold-down seats.
Previously used for the visits of major heads of state including John F. Kennedy, Charles de Gaulle and for the centenary celebrations of Italian unification, the cars underwent careful restoration in 2001. Two models now belong to the Scuderie del Quirinale: Belfiore and Belvedere remain the cars used on great occasions by the Italian President and the country’s most senior officials. Belsito can be viewed at the Historical Museum of Military Vehicles in Rome, whereas Belmonte has been on show at the National Automobile Museum in Turin since 2001.