Classics World’s Gillian Carmoodie test drives and reviews the 1972 Lancia Fulvia Zagato 1.3s…
Before you’ve even climbed inside this Fulvia Zagato, you can sense the alternative slant to this spirited Italian classic. From the angular chrome surrounding the front headlights to the curved bonnet that leads up to an air intake, to the rear hatch that can unusually be left open whilst driving. Commissioned by Lancia to Zagato to serve as a sportier version of the Lancia Fulvia coupe, the Zagato model is built on the former’s strong performance credentials, following a win of the FIA International Championship with a Fulvia in 1972.
Painted in striking aubergine purple and with barely a blemish to the exterior, you’ll be pushed to believe that this Fulvia Zagato has recently undergone a two-year bare metal re-build. Consequently, the underside and wheel arches are structurally solid and completely devoid of rust, whilst not a single chip has blighted the immaculate paintwork. Particularly scrupulous inspection will reveal a small crack to the front passenger indicator light and minor tarnishing to the chromed number plate light cover on the rear. By this point, however, you’ll likely have noted the flawless condition of the glass and surrounding window rubbers, the watertight sunroof, as well as those proud Zagato badges and pepper white wheels.
Like almost everything styled with a touch of Italian flair, the interior of this Fulvia is anything but understated. Vibrant red leather dons the freshly upholstered seats and door cards as unmarked black carpet and interior trim simultaneously augment the elegant lines present within the cabin. Zagato was renowned for fitting their cars with incredibly supportive seats and you can be assured that you’ll enjoy nothing other than superior comfort within this 1.3s. There is one minor crack to the dash, located just beneath the heater controls, but otherwise the black vinyl is completely free of fade and the wooden binnacle surround remains in excellent condition.
The ribbed Bakelite steering wheel feels light in the hand and looks suitably retro in tan orange. All of the gauges behind the wheel are in perfect working order, but the analogue clock does not currently run. Meanwhile, the light stone grey headlining above is brand new as is the tasteful red leather spare wheel cover in the rear. The boot space is both clean and dry, having been lined with smart black carpet. The rear glass hatch opens with ease courtesy of an electronic switch up front, providing a welcome boost to air flow throughout the cabin.
Turning from the cosmetic to the mechanical, you’ll find a lively V4 engine accompanied by a smart pepper white rocker cover. The narrow-angle V4 is clearly in good health as it starts immediately and then goes on to idle well. This 1.3s has recently benefitted from the fitting of new carburetor parts as well as electronic ignition. All fluid levels sit at maximum with no signs of seepage, while a check of the dipstick confirms that the engine oil is clean. Around the engine bay there are no signs of corrosion or damage. All contacts are clean, with the wiring unfrayed and is organised tidily with impeccable functioning coming from the heater, lights, window wipers, dashboard gauges and the rear hatch.
This Lancia Zagato offers a charismatic and highly addictive driving experience. The V4 engine is a typical Lancia feature, having been previously used in the Lambda, Artena, Augusta, Ardea and Appia models before finally being incorporated into the Fulvia’s make-up too. Double overhead-cams operate the 8 valves within the power unit. All the while you can enjoy an alluring rasp as you work with a surprisingly torquey motor that delivers brisk acceleration and a cheeky backfire that’ll have you hooked in no time.
While out on the move there are no adverse noises evident from neither the differential nor the axles. The steering is direct and largely free from play, and combined with the advanced suspension layout and excellent power-to-weight ratio all Fulvia models are famed for, you’ll be able to flick through the corners with unashamed gusto. Working through the manual 5-speed gearbox of this 1.3s is sheer delight as you feel each selection fall into place with a satisfying click while the dogleg layout adds a touch of the exotic to the experience. The brakes and calipers have both been replaced recently and deliver more than ample stopping power.
If you’re looking for advanced technical specification in a classic but equally have a voracious appetite for motoring with personality, this 1972 Fulvia Zagato 1.3s could likely prove your perfect match. Taking the high-quality re-build into consideration, this Lancia is reasonably priced for a coach-built vehicle that offers performance a cut above the competition in a package that also boasts the best of Italian character.
TECH SPEC 1972 LANCIA FULVIA ZAGATO 1.3S
ENGINE: 1298cc, V4
POWER: 89 bhp
TOP SPEED: 108 mph
0-60mph: 11.3 secs
ECONOMY: 24 mpg
GEARBOX: 5-speed manual