The cars we loved.
Coupes are an exciting segment in the automotive market, but lately their numbers have been dwindling. Some of the most exciting GT cars to come out of Europe were less than exotic, but still stylish and exclusive by American standards. Lancia was a storied brand that sold cars in the US with sporadic distribution until 1975. For Lancia enthusiasts this may have been bad news as one of the last true Lancia coupes was just winding down its production that year.
I don’t even know if the 2000 Coupe was even available Stateside under a regular dealer network, but the mid-sized Series II Flavia based coupe built from 1971 to 1975 was a high point in Lancia quality and engineering. It’s handsome bodyshell was designed by Pininfarina, the same company responsible for so many beautiful Ferrari’s. Pininfarina also designed the interior which looked like a slightly scaled down version of the Ferrari 330 GT.
By all accounts the 2000 Coupe was an advance piece of engineering with features expected in far more expensive cars like a 5 speed manual transmission and front wheel drive. The 2000 had advanced Bosh electronics specially designed for its 2.0 liter engine four cylinder engine. It came in two variants, one with fuel injection good for 124 hp and a single carburetor version with 113 hp. Both engines shared a single overhead cam configuration.
While the 2000 was not fast by today’s GT car standards, its performance was equal to rivals from BMW, Audi and Alfa Romeo. In fact it was closer to the top of its class performance wise, due to a sprighty 2,535 lb curb weight and well sorted chassis. Lancia’s marketing efforts chose to focus on the car’s other strong points. The target audience were people who wanted a stylish, practical and comfortable coupe which the 2000 excelled.
Those strong other points were of course a comfortable ride with great handling. Rather than brag about raw performance, Lancia chose to emphasize the 2000’s technology and high level of workmanship. Fiat had cars in it’s stable like the 130 coupe that were better suited for boasts of raw performance. The 2000 was all about comfort, technology with a bit of luxury. This approach was not unlike the path Lexus took with the vast majority of its cars in the first two decades of its existence.
The beautifully designed and well-built Lancia 2000 was one of the last Lancia’s to be developed purely by Lancia before Fiat gobbled up the company and diffuse some of the quality gains the company fought so hard to achieve.
New Lancia cars, like the 2000’s replacement the Beta Coupe would share parts with any number of Fiats in an effort to cut costs.The Beta Coupe was sold as a high volume car with a low volume price, just the opposite of previous Lancia coupes.
The 2000’s replacement corresponded to Fiat establishing a regular dealer network and distribution channels in the US around 1975. While their cars became more accessible to Americans, the company was developing a reputation for rust and poor quality, despite the attractive designs and high prices the Italians had been known for. Eventually the Italians would withdraw from the American market en mass, Fiat, Lancia and Alfa Romero were all gone or leaving by the ’90s.
As one of the last true Lancia GT cars, 2000 Coupes today fetch a handsome price. Lancia had maintained some sort of GT coupes in its line up until the Beta Coupe/Spider/Montecarlo was canceled in 1981.
From that point on Fiat seemed increasingly content to let its high end brands Ferrari and Maserati build GT cars, with the occasional coupe or spider popping up in Alfa Romeo and Fiat’s own line up.