Lancia Zagato is offbeat fun…
Like people, the car world is populated by those quirky and offbeat, where personality trumps outright beauty. This nifty collaboration between Lancia and coach builder Zagato is the Lancia Fulvia Sport Zagato, and the emphasis is heavy on the sport.
Enthusiasts know Lancia mostly for their the famous Stratos rally car with its cult-like following. Few know that Lancia built a Formula 1 car later bought by Ferrari, and almost no-one knows that Lancia Stratos DNA can be had for a fraction of the price of a Stratos in the Lancia Fulvia Zagato.
All of Lancia’s rally experience went into making the Fulvia Sport Zagato ultra quick and way ahead of its time for the early 70’s. A front engine V-4 puts out around 100 HP, and the engine was canted 45 degrees to effectively lower the car’s center of gravity. Front wheel drive gave unsurpassed rallying advantages by pulling the car through the worst of roads, and the power and light weight were all complimented by a close ratio 5-speed transmission. This combination of light weight and great handling put many of its contemporaries to shame.
That Z on the side is also special. The same Zagato that famously designed many of the most beautiful cars in the world, was challenged to lightening a standard body and chassis, shaping it into continuing Lancia’s tradition of building sporty, road or track machines.
Yeah, the name script is a bit difficult to read so get used to people asking you what it is. Start by saying, “rare”, as Zagato only built 2000 of these. Few made it to the States and it’s anyone’s guess how many are still available.
Driving the Lancia Fulvia Sport Zagato is an absolute joy. The snug, but not claustrophobic, interior is simple and reflects the sporting intentions of the car, and lots of glass means easy visibility all around.
With a noticeably different sound at start up, a bit more aria than the 4 cylinder Alfa Romeos, the Zagato bodied Fulvia sounds richer, and the V-4 just gets better as you feed it revs.
Very light steering translates to instant feedback and the vintage machine is surprisingly quick through corners. I purposely started hunting down twisty bits to challenge the chassis. With only a bit of body roll, the Lancia Zagato wasn’t even upset by the bumps and holes of back roads. Seriously, well done Zagato!
A wonderful experience on the road,you quickly fall into the pattern of shift and grin. And by the way, the Lancia Sport Zagato was one of the first European hatchbacks.
Romance and personality make a comeback in this collectible Italian with racing pedigree in its blood.
Let’s be clear, this car isn’t for everyone. But if you march to that different drummer, try this offbeat Italian on for size. I promise you will come away impressed, rethinking Lancias. And your sports car buddies that know it all? Bring up the Lancia Fulvia Sport Zagato and impress the hell out of them with your knowledge.