In most galleries, these pages usually show a random collection of member’s cars with little explanation of their significance or history. In the ALC site, I will attempt to show a specific car owned by one of the members and include a little of its history and how the member was affected by its ownership. This first car, a Lancia 3C Flaminia Sport Zagato, was originally owned by John Cecil 30 years ago and was his first Lancia.
My Very First (and best) Lancia
By John Cecil
In 1970, I returned to California from a 3 year stint in Florida and re-joined Lockheed Corp. I had always been something of a car buff and had owned M.G.s, a Jaguar XK 120M, three Porches including a Hirth crank 1600 S as well as a S90 Karmann Coupe. When I returned to California, a family man with two sons, I was driving a Renault R16. We bought a house in Sunnyvale, a suburb south of San Francisco with a population (then) of 50,000. A colleague at Lockheed, Don Cross, had recently imported a 1967 Lancia Flaminia 2.8 Coupe with a Superlegerra body by Touring. I was very impressed, as I had pretty much dismissed Italian sports cars as being too expensive, complex, unreliable and just plain quirky. This from an ex-Jaguar and then current Renault owner. As it turned out, there was a Lancia for sale in Sunnyvale a few blocks from our new home. It needed paint and upholstery, but otherwise was all there. It was a 1963 Lancia 3C Flaminia Sport Zagato with a 2.5 litre engine and three lovely Weber carbs. He wanted $2,500 for it (a bit high with 65,000 miles, I thought) but I bought it anyway. I drove this car to many ALC events and loved it, but eventually the head gasket started to leak and I had a so-called Lancia expert rebuild the engine with new sleeves and pistons. Unfortunately the mechanic did not allow the specified step between the top of the sleeve and the top of the deck and upon assembly, the gasket failed to seal again. I became frustrated, and having imported a Flaminia Supersport, decided to sell the car. I did so and it went to the original owner in Hawaii.
Time passed. The next time I saw the car, it was in Steve Snyder’s shop in Sunnyvale on its way to yet another owner. It looked awful – far worse than when I bought it originally. In fact, on its way east, the hood blew off and was never found. The next time I heard of the car, a Mr. Ted Halton from Oregon inquired about it and asked me a little about it, although neither of us knew it to be the same car at the time. He was interested in trading a Porsche RSL for it as it had had a $40,000 restoration by then, and the current owner wanted $85,000 for it – an approximately equal trade for the Porsche. The owner wanted to show the car first in Florida and then it would go to Pebble Beach for the 1999 Concours. Mr Halton did not buy it as it was sold to a European collector for something near $100,000. Anyway, here are some photos of it after the restoration and shortly prior to the Pebble Beach Concours.
Although this was my first Lancia, there were several to follow. I owned a Flaminia Supersport at the same time that I owned the Sport, above. Finally I have a photo in the gallery of that wonderful machine. Che bella macchina!! At the just-completed West Coast reunion, I met an individual who had owned it and had some pictures of it. Here is the Flaminia SS:
After that, the next Lancia I acquired was a Flavia Pininfarina Coupe. I noticed it on the Lockheed Missiles and Space Co. employee parking lot and waited for its owner to appear. She was a clerk in an engineering office and really needed a car that she could drive and not worry about. I just happened to own one – a 1973 Mercury Capri, at the time about 2 years old. Her Lancia looked scruffy; needed paint and some interior work but was all there and drove reasonably well. We traded pink slip for pink slip with her giving me $200; really good deal for her, but I couldn’t have cared less – I wanted to save her Lancia!
I took the car home and found that it was actually in pretty good condition mechanically. It needed the usual front end work; tie rod ends and ball joints. It also needed a new set of DeCarbon shocks. I made those fixes and ordered two Connolly vat-dyed hides from England to recover the front and rear seats. I had that done and re-sprayed the car in silver-gray. Here is a photo of the 1963 Flavia, a 1500 cc opposed four, engine design by Fessia.