In the complex Italian industrial history 1969 turns out to be a key year. The year of FIAT's expansion and the safeguarding of national capital with respect to North America. And it is that, eager to expand its prestige by acquiring historical brands with great technological capabilities, Ford set its sights on Italian motorsport. In this sense, the negotiations between Henry Ford II and Enzo Ferrari are especially well known. Something that went wrong for Michigan. All for trying not only to take control of the production cars, but also of the racing department so jealously guarded by those of Maranello.
However, what is not so well known is the Michigan giant's attempted purchase of Lancia. A commercial trial stopped short by the Italian state, which did not look favorably on the massive penetration of foreign capital in its powerful automobile industry. That is why, finally, the game was tipped in favor of FIAT, which acquired all of Lancia in 1969 after its sale by the Pasenti family, who had been running the company since he bought it in 1955 from the founder's widow and son, Vincenzo Lancia.
Here Lancia entered a period as brief as it was dizzying, seeking its niche within the gigantic FIAT group without losing the mechanical innovation that had always defined it. A characteristic that, while in the passenger car range was diluted as it was gradually homologated with FIAT's own mass production techniques, in terms of competition it became even more poignant. It is because of that, In the only 4 years from 1969 to 1973, cars as diverse as the sober type 2000 saloons coexisted in Lancia with futuristic experiments like the Stratos.
A time of contrasts and transition in which the Lancia 2000 played a fundamental role as the first car of the brand built under the tutelage of FIAT. The hinge between two eras that is now fifty years old since its presentation in 1971.
LANCIA 2000. MORE LANCIA THAN FIAT
The character of the transitory period under which the Lancia 2000 was conceived is marked by a revealing fact. And it is that this was not only one of the few models to live for several years with the one it came to replace, but also with the one that replaced it. Therefore the Lancia 2000 was caught between the last series of the Flavia - manufactured until 1975 - and the first series of the Beta. A groundbreaking car compared to the time of Lancia as an independent manufacturer presented in 1972, just one year after the launch of our protagonist.
Anyway, the truth is that in this position between two eras the Lancia 2000 is clearly a tributary of the old one. In fact, This model is more of an evolution of the successful Flavia than a newly minted car like the Beta was.. For this reason, although its appearance was made under the direction of FIAT, the news is rather scarce compared to its predecessor. As far as mechanics are concerned, it continues to mount the revolutionary Flat-4 engine. The flat four-cylinder in aluminum that was introduced in 1960 to equip the Flavia.
An engine that, In the case of the 2000, it was tuned to give 115CV with its 1991cc. Raised to 126 in the case of the 2000 Inezione variant, which won those horses thanks to substituting carburetion for injection. Compared to the ten mechanics that the Flavia range had, the Lancia 2000 offered only these two to power its four variants. Two saloons - the 2000 and the 2000 Inezione - and the two sports cars - the 2000 Coupé and the 2000 Coupé HF, equipped with an injection engine.
ON THE PATH OF THE COUPÉ LANCIA
One of the most striking points in the history of the Lancia 2000 is the aesthetic divergence between its coupe and saloon versions. A fact that, in truth, should not surprise us since it was a constant in models such as the Flaminia or the Flavia. With regard to their sedans, they were heirs to the so-called Florida line created by Pininfarina in 1955. However, when it came to coupes, their designs became less conventional, especially in the special versions made by the always recognizable Zagato.
Dares never followed by Pininfarina, which was responsible for Lancia's most iconic coupes during the 1971s. Among them the two-door version of the Flavia, which the same bodybuilder was responsible for updating to light the Lancia 2000 Coupé in XNUMX. A design where only the front and rear changes with respect to its predecessor. The swan song of lines created by Battista Farina's pencils in the fifties. Replaced by the much more rectilinear sides of models such as the 1976 Lancia Gamma Coupé by Aldo Brovarone.
THE FINAL PROBLEM: MANUFACTURING COSTS
After all, the main problem with the Lancia 2000 was its cost to manufacture. Still skewed by a production poorly thought out for mass marketing, Lancia had during the sixties many difficulties to generate sales that would allow balancing the accounts. That is why, after its absorption by FIAT, the main challenge was to channel the company's large series models under the Agnelli industrial standards. Just the path in which the Lancia 2000 sang its end, overtaken by the much more modern Beta.
Photographs: Gustavo Boyero. Pininfarina. FCA Heritage.
PS From La Escudería we want to thank your collaboration to Gustavo Boyero, who has kindly provided us for this article the photographic report made to the Lancia 2000 Coupé de Jesús Núnez. Former owner of the FIAT dealership in Alba de Tormes (Salamanca).