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The New Found "Competizione"

The race-ready version of the Lancia Fulvia Sport Zagato was built in only 27 examples. One of those was apparently lost, until some time ago.

The Lancia Fulvia is a multi-faceted phenomenon -- a car that, in its various guises, is inextricably linked to the cultures of both motor racing and everyday life in the 60s and 70s.

Those who lived through that era may remember it as the sedan for family outings. Others may remember it as the Coupé that fanciful young men took for a spin along the busy promenade -- the road their catwalk. Characters like Sandro Munari, Sergio Barbasio and Harry Källström will think of the HF versions and see it as the vessel that delivered them to pinnacle of the rallying.

And for those who really wanted to stand out there was the Sport, the version developed by Zagato.

Launched in 1965, the Fulvia Sport was a coupé as elegant as it was original and successful. The first series of car built by Milan-based Zagato with over 7,000 units, it was also the very first Zagato car with a to boast a steel body. Only the first 900 built were hand-beaten aluminum, as per tradition. But not everyone knows that among these, there are 27 that are even more special and precious: The unofficially titled "Sport Competizione". It's a cult object today and an extremely rare specimen, and it's one we're lucky to have some great images of.

The Sport, and more particularly the "Competizione", was built in a light aluminum frame, reminiscent of the poetry of Italian motoring in the late 60s. A blend of beauty and performance as the signature, refined look of Zagato chief stylist Ercole Spada meets the genesis of the Lancia Racing Department, whose birth and success owes a great deal to the Fulvia Sport.

Elio Zagato himself played a role in the origin story of the Sport. It was he who followed his intuition and tasked the young Ercole Spada, a promising young talent with some pedigree, to design a more aerodynamic profile for the Fulvia.

Spada took up the challenge with gusto, tying everything together with a characteristic sharp edge which runs around the perimeter of the car. This served a dual-purpose, stiffening the panels and emphasizing the geometric component of the design, including the grille shape and headlight fairing.

When it debuted in 1965, the Sport inherited the mechanics of the 1.2 Coupé.

While the horsepower remained at the standard 79, the lighter weight peraluman bodywork coupled with the new aerodynamics and new bridge ratio boosted the Zagato's top speed to 168km/h. It may only have been an 8 km/h improvement, but it was enough to pique the interest of Cesare Fiorio, sporting director of the Chivasso company at the time. Cesare suggested to his father Alessandro, himself a Lancia manager, to commission a first "laboratory" car with lightened bodywork to spearhead a small series for the Racing Team and interested private racers. Thus, the first "Competizione" was born.

The car was assembled to several specifications, including the plexiglass windows (except for the windscreen), the enlarged wheel arches with riveted tail ends, and Campagnolo 6Jx13 magnesium alloy wheels.

The most evident feature of the Competizione would be the drilling of the sheets, performed by hand by the Zagato engineers. Side members, cross members, steering box, sills, the works -- even the left and right sides were often treated differently, based on the tracks on which the cars would run. The first three Competizione featured a customized “Amaranto Montebello” livery, already seen on the Fulvia HF. On the fourth, the brand new "Rosso San Siro" made its debut -- a deep orange that would characterize the rest of the production (with the exception of one white offering). The interior was reduced to the essentials -- door panels, side bolsters and seats covered in nautical-inspired stretch vinyl fabric and characterized by an unusual bright turquoise color.

Althrough created for competition, the Sport Competizione was supplied to customers by hiding the more modest Fulvia mechanics under the hood. The 1.2 and 1.3 liter engines were on occasion prepared to obtain different cubic sizes and powers. This was the case for the most famous Competizione, the 1911 chassis. It was the very last Sport with an aluminum body. Equipped with an upgraded 1.6-liter engine and 154 horsepower, Claudio Maglioli and Lele Pinto won their class in 1969 at the 12 Hours of Sebring (11th place overall) and at the 24 Hours of Daytona (17th overall) in this model. The following month, the same crew also took first place in their class at the 12 Hours of Sebring. The Sport Competizione also earned itself respected in Europe, collecting several category victories in grueling endurance races such as the 1000 km of Monza or the 1000 km of the Nürburgring, as well as the always fascinating Targa Florio, won in 1968, 1969 and 1971.

Owning an original “Competizione” today is a privilege for only a select few.

It's a car for true lovers and connoisseurs, the kind reserved for those who are willing to wait years before owning it. In some cases, chasing it by following scattered clues traces left by the vicissitudes of a specific chassis number. This is the story of the Fulvia Sport 1.3 Competizione, chassis 1904 -- featured in these images. Sold new in March 1968 by Saicar of Milan, the only dealership in charge of dealing with the Lancias built by Zagato, the car was purchased by Stefano Salvi, a gentleman driver in force at the famous Jolly Club. The engine was then developed according to the regulations of the time by Gino De Sanctis, and it included a side exhaust, a short-ratio gearbox for uphill racing, roll bar and an increased 90-liter tank, useful for "long" races such as the Mugello Road Circuit. Salvi and his "Competizione" (with the original plate "Roma", as shown here below) competed for a couple of seasons on the circuits and hill climbs all over Italy: Mugello Grand Prix, Svolte di Popoli, Rieti Terminillo, Camucia Cortona, before finally stepping away from racing.

Photos by Archivio Actualfoto Bologna

The car then ended up in the hands of a Roman playboy and sports car collector. An amateur driver, he had the Fulvia further developed at the famous Macciocca workshop in Rome, adding oversized carburetors, a short-lever gearbox, lowered set-up and other tricks for use on the track. But the new owner was fickle, and quickly fell for other models. Thus, he sold the Fulvia not long after investing in it. Our Competizione then changed hands a couple of times before finding a home, in 1975, in the garage of a certain Claudio Grazioli, who converted it for road use. He removed the roll bar, added a rear seat and repainted it in an unlikely metallic green. Alas, it was in an accident, and had to be dismantled and abandoned in a field. Then came the years where the Fulvia Sport lost value and was bought and sold for pennies. What no one suspected was a rare racing specimen hiding under the hood of that ruined, abandoned car. Nobody except Giorgio, the current owner, that is. A Lancia Fulvia enthusiast, Giorgio says that at least twenty have passed through his garage. But for Giorgio, the "Competizione" had long been an unfulfilled obsession.

Giorgio painstakingly searched for Chassis 1904 in speciality books, and patiently traced its movements over the years.

After 40 years, he located the 1904 in the exact spot where Grazioli has left it -- falling into ruin. It was in a pitiful state, but the original plates and documents had survived. Giorgio entrusted his adopted "Competizione" to the skilled hands of the Ligurian specialist Roberto Ratto, a reputed name in the Lancia restoration world. Ratto, in turn, sought out the help of Gianni Tonti, at the time technical manager of the Racing Department. Thus, work began. And now it is done. Thanks to rigorous research, and total care, "Competizione" chassis 1904 has been returned to its former glory, meeting the technical configuration set up in Rome by Macciocca in 1970.

The result? 128 horsepower, 850 kilos, countless value.


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