Ich bin ein Berlina: Lancia 2000 Sedan

So it turns out the Lancia 2000 Sedan – or Berlina to give it its rightful Italian name – is going to feature in the new Hunt and Lauda epic, Rush. I discovered as much on Friday night having seen the latest trailer for the film at the cinema. It was a fleeting glimpse, but there was Niki Lauda driving a Lancia 2000 Sedan rather enthusiastically. And to think that for all these years I thought James Hunt was cooler than Lauda.

Well I’m sorry, but for all Hunt’s chain-smoking, beer-swilling, international playboy, ace racing driver antics, I’m afraid he has just been upstaged by an Austrian. At least as far as I’m concerned anyway.

Lancia 2000 Berlina

The thing is, aside from the Lancia Delta Integrale, the Lancia 2000 Sedan is perhaps my favourite Lancia of all time. An unlikely choice I admit, especially given the existence of the likes of the Fulvia, Montecarlo, Stratos and Delta S4. But there’s a very good reason for my love of the Lancia 2000.

My late father owned one. And within a moment of driving home in his Lancia 2000, my Dad went from being the greatest father on earth, to the coolest father on earth.

It was quite simply the best car my Dad ever owned.

The Lancia 2000 was introduced in 1971 and was, to all intents and purposes, a revised version of the outgoing Lancia Flavia. Yes, there were some cosmetic changes, but the roof, doors, interior and the fundamentals of the drivetrain were carried over from the second generation Flavia. But hey, when a car looks as good as the Flavia/2000, why change it?

Lancia Flavia

It was powered by a 1,991cc 4-cylinder boxer engine which, when fitted with a new and improved Bosch fuel injection system, could deliver 125bhp and 127lb ft of torque. Top speed was a leisurely 115mph and fuel economy in the low to mid 20s would be expected. Acceleration to 60mph? Well that would take a little over 10 seconds.

But mere stats and data are irrelevant when it comes to the Lancia 2000. It’s a rare thing. A car completely devoid of vulgarity. A simple, some would say staid and conservative design, that’s positively dripping in charm and elegance. My Dad’s Lancia 2000 was brown and of 1972 vintage. It wore the plate, MLK 71L and, even as a mere 12 year-old backseat driver, I fell head over heels in love with it.

I’m ever so slightly pleased with the fact that even in the late 1980s, my Dad used some true PetrolBlog Logic when it came to justifying the purchase of MLK 71L. We would shortly be embarking on our annual holiday to Wales. Dad managed to convince Mum that our trusty two-tone green Triumph Herald wouldn’t make the 200 mile journey to Wales, so a ‘holiday car’ would have to be found.

With a budget of £1,000, we ventured off to a small garage in Milford-on-Sea where three potential candidates were waiting to be test driven – a white Triumph Dolomite, a white Ford Capri and the Lancia 2000. Clearly the Lancia won the day, but aside from my Dad having great taste, I can’t recall quite why the Italian beat the pair of blue-collar heroes.

Lancia 2000 Berlina Rear

Of course, my appreciation of the Lancia 2000 has grown over the years. As a 12 year-old car fan, I loved it for simple reasons. Like the supremely comfortable nylon velvet seats. And the wooden dashboard. And the square dials. Not to mention the gloriously exotic Lancia badge, combined with the discreet ‘i.e’ badge on the grille. Such things matter when you’re a pre-teen car fan.

Today I appreciate the Lancia 2000 for other reasons. For starters, it was one of the last true Lancias, designed and built by the company before the takeover by Fiat in 1969. Don’t let the 1971 launch date confuse you, the Lancia 2000 was actually ready for production in 1969, but Fiat held it back over concerns about the high cost of production.

Which in turn led to it being an incredibly expensive car to buy. In 1972, the Lancia 2000 would cost the discerning British consumer a rather extravagent £2,399. A Ford Cortina 2000XL? Well that would be £1,361, sir. Even the relatively opulent and quite magnificent Rover 2000TC was some £500 cheaper in 1972. The Lancia 2000 was therefore bought by people who didn’t let the vulgarity of price get in the way of good taste.

Lancia 2000 Sedan

And as Lancia’s flagship motor of the time, I love the way it was loaded with the type of equipment the average British motorist could only dream of. Electric front and rear windows, all-round disc brakes, optional air conditioning, ZF power steering, proper wood trim, optional rear window curtains and optional leather seats. Although quite why you’d opt for leather when velvet seats were fitted as standard is anyone’s guess. And yes, the velvet seats were as sumptuous as you’d imagine.

But perhaps most of all, I love the way it looks. Not beautiful in the way that a Jaguar E-Type or Lancia Fulvia might be, but gorgeous all the same. The Lancia 2000 is the Ingrid Bergman of 1970s cars – able to remain appealing without the need for make-up or unwanted jewellery. A uniquely Italian saloon car that could only stem from the late ’60s or early ’70s.

Lancia 2000 Berlina IE

I shed more than a few tears when Dad sold it. I distinctly remember wandering up the long driveway on my 13th birthday, knowing that someone was coming to view the Lancia that day. That was my ‘Snowman moment’. The part when the little boy excitedly throws open the curtains only to discover that where once stood something dear, there was now no more than small reminders of something now lost.

I believe it was sold to a Lancia fan in Bicester or Banbury. In truth Dad could have sold it a dozen times over, such was the response to the ad in Auto Trader.

Dad would go on to buy bigger, better, faster and more practical cars, but none came close to recapturing the magic of the Lancia. It’s an emotional and irrational love of a car that was built long before I was born and I imagine would stand little hope of living up to my rose-tinted vision of its greatness. Would that stop me from moving heaven and earth to buy one? Definitely not.

Thinking about it, the last time I actually saw a Lancia 2000 Berlina was on a holiday to Innsbruck, circa 1990. I still have the photo of the Italian-registered car and can vividly remember the look on the Italians’ faces as I rushed across to take a quick snap of their family runabout.

Lancia 2000 Berlina in Innsbruck, circa 1990

But I fear that my chances of following in my father’s footsteps are slim. From what I can see, MLK 71L was sent to the great Italian scrapyard in the sky back in 1992. And with the number of UK cars down to single figures, I doubt I could ever afford one. Heck, a starring role as Niki Lauda’s chosen steed isn’t exactly going to depress the values of the car.

So maybe the Lancia 2000 Sedan is best left in the memory bank. Filed alongside Daisy Duke, Soda Stream, Subbuteo and The Wonder Years as things that were better as a kid.

Enjoy your moment in the limelight, Lancia 2000. And thank you for bringing some Italian glamour to the life of this child of the 1970s. For what it’s worth, you were the best Welsh holiday car, ever.

Fact.

Featured image and TNJ 663 © Tony Harrison, bottom image © PetrolBlog, all other images © Lancia.

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ABOUT AUTHOR
Gavin Big-Surname
The chief waffler and founder of PetrolBlog in 2010. Has a rather unhealthy obsession with cars from the 80s and 90s, and is on a one-man mission to collect the cars nobody else wants. Also likes tea and Hobnobs.

27 comments

  1. August 28, 2013
    Rafael

    I enjoyed a lot your article about the Lancia. Like you said, it´s not a beautiful car in the way a Ferrari or an E-Type are, but it has a dignified, suave and classy character impossible to find in a modern car.
    By the way, 125 bhp in a 70´s two litre engine is a great figure.
    You´re lucky, the most interesting cars my father has had were an Austin 1100 (they were built here in Spain) and a Renault 4. Hardly as glamorous as the Lancia.

    Reply
    • August 28, 2013
      Gavin Braithwaite-Smith

      Thanks Rafael. Glad it’s not just me who finds some beauty in the 2000…

      And hey, you can’t knock the Renault 4! 😉

      Reply
  2. September 9, 2013
    Peter Counsell

    Marvellous article. Despite my bias, can well understand how the Lancia won against Dolomite and Capri.
    Thinking maybe Isabella Rosalini.

    Reply
  3. September 9, 2013
    LanciaBoxer

    What nice story about an unknown great Car, Lancia 2000 was superlative! Not only in his elegance, technic and quality.
    Was superlative more again on the route (not a word.. but I understand You was a child..)! a fantastic front wheel drive with his flat boxer engine in a specially lowered chassis give to the 2000, a center of gravity incredibly low and therefore a driveability on your arms as NO other front wheel drive car, a car in which more stronger and fast you go and it go down the road, which can be driven so that once prepaid curves do run the 2000 on a track, stuck on the ground always, in every condition. Big torque, powerful brakes Superduplex for the time, power steering ZF action variable. Exceptional suppleness but no one even knows what he knows to be unbeatable between road sweeping curves of a wide valley road, as only the Lancia with Boxer engines can be. A planet to another level compared to all sedans of its era.

    Reply
    • September 10, 2013
      Gavin Braithwaite-Smith

      Hello. You see, you’ve simply increased my desire to drive a Lancia 2000 now…

      Which is a good thing. Thank you.

      Reply
  4. September 9, 2013
    Francesco

    Mio padre compro’ ad agosto 1969 una splendida flavia 2000 LX grigio metallizzato meravigliosa…In uno dei splendidi viaggi fatti in quel periodo,non posso dimenticare l’attenzione che la flavia siscito’ in quel di Lugano…non riuscivamo ad andar via…successivamente mio padre acquisto’ la 2000 ….elegantissima….

    Reply
    • September 10, 2013
      Gavin Braithwaite-Smith

      Hello Francesco. I won’t pretend to understand Italian, but I think you said something along the lines of your father buying a Lancia 2000 in 1969, it was wonderful, you had plenty of wonderful trips, especially to Lugano.

      If so – great memories of a great car!

      Reply
      • August 16, 2016
        roubini ronny

        the lancia flavia berlina . also i as a child used to go from milano to lugano with the flavia it was wonderful time with a very special car

        Reply
  5. November 12, 2013
    Mr Arti Sticky

    My Mum had some sexy cars when we were kids in the 70s and this was one of them. It was the lightest of green colour with dark green sumptious velour seats, which smelt really exotic to my young nose! Let’s not forget the wood trim, carpet, webasto roof and the massive boot. The tinted windows were also something of a novelty at the time – I guess we didn’t get enough daylight in the UK for them to be standard.. A wolf in sheep’s clothing def, but for the years my Mum had it, it probably ran sweet as a nut for a month! Dad was forever tinkering with carbs and blowing out jets..but that was part of the fun of owning a car then, no?

    Reply
    • November 14, 2013
      Gavin Braithwaite-Smith

      We were the lucky children – to have parents who owned a Lancia 2000!

      Ours didn’t have the Webasto roof – at least not as far as I remember.

      And you’re absolutely right about the smell. Wonderfully Italian! 😉

      Reply
  6. December 5, 2013
    Mike

    Can’t offer you a ride in Flavia 2000 sedan, but if you come to Scotland I could give you a ride in a Flavia PF Coupe 1.8

    Reply
    • January 8, 2014
      Gavin Braithwaite-Smith

      I’d love that – thank you! What a very generous offer.

      Any pics of your Flavia?

      Reply
  7. February 3, 2014
    Mel

    I am just about to take possession of my dads 1972 lancia 2000, the car I took my driving test in 28 years ago which has been mothballed in his garage for 20+ years. I’m not sure what to expect but I hope it will be resurrectable…any tips?

    Reply
    • February 3, 2014
      Gavin Braithwaite-Smith

      Wow. Congratulations. What a fantastic story.

      Firstly, I’d suggest tracking down your local Lancia specialist for tips. They’ll know anything specific about the Lancia 2000.

      But as it has been stood for two decades, you’ll need to drain all the fluids, replace the spark plugs, buy a new battery and slowly bring her back to life. You’ll also need to replace the brakes, the tyres and the wires (the mice may have been at them!).

      Sounds like a daunting prospect, but it’s 100% worth it.

      Best advice – seek specialist help. Don’t rush it!

      Any pics? Would love to see what she looks like. Feel free to email me.

      All the best.

      Reply
      • February 3, 2014
        Mel

        Wow thanks for such a speedy reply. I imagine there aren’t many of these around anymore. I’m not sure I have a local lancia specialist in Nottingham. Dad has given me a lot of tips…but I think I’m going to need deep pockets. I’ll send you the only photo I have if it at the moment…as it was in 1980. More to follow after I receive it on Friday!

        Reply
        • February 3, 2014
          Gavin Braithwaite-Smith

          Apparently there are 11 on the road, and a further seven more listed as SORN. But there’s a good chance that your Dad’s is an ‘unknown’, so it will add to the numbers. Which is good!

          This could be a good place to start: http://www.lanciasport.com/LS_Specialists_files/LanciaSGuideCLSV6_2.pdf

          Alternatively, get in touch with the Lancia Owners Club.

          And good luck for Friday. Looking forward to seeing the pics.

          Reply
          • February 3, 2014
            Mel

            What’s your email address?

            Reply
            • February 3, 2014
              Gavin Braithwaite-Smith

              gavin [at] petrolblog.com.

              Cheers!

              Reply
              • February 18, 2014
                Sandro

                Dear Gavin,
                I enjoyed reading your entusiast article of the Lancia 2000 berlina.
                I bought one when I was 20 years old, my father owned two of them (one at the time).
                After this my first Lancia, I purchased the 2000 coupe’ HF, the Fulvia 1600HF and the Flaminia berlina 2800.
                Still today the 2000 berlina is my favourite, like you said she isn’t a car with a showy look, she is elegant but probably not so attractive. So why to me is still the best? Because when I start her engine and drive away is a unic feeling: silent like no other cars at the time, 5th gear at 50 kmp and no problem to accellerate whithout any need of changhing gear, very good handle, at the end she is still a modern car to me. Also today, when I am on leave, I travel even over 1000 km/day and when I park the car at the end of a long trip I feel sad, like a baby who must stop play with is favourite toy.
                Happy to see that I’m not alone to love the 2000.
                Regards,
                Sandro

                Reply
  8. April 1, 2014
    Peter Longhurst

    Amazing! I don’t usually comment – but that’s my 2000 sedan at the top of the page. Been mine since 1993; now at approx. 73000 miles. Originally belonged to GP driver Jack Lewis, who used to race against names like Brabham, Hill, Ireland, Salvadori and win sometimes too.

    Reply
  9. April 25, 2014
    terry hayden

    I first remember seeing one in my rear view mirror in Brighton England. I was driving a Dove GTR4A which is very rare but could not help admiring glances towards the svelt dark blue saloon besides mw with the distinctive shovel front end!
    Inside were a chinese family and I puzzled why all windows were shut on such a warm evening, only late to realise this is what you do with Air Con which was fairly unheard of in 70’s UK!
    Now smitten I had a look for one myself and got to test a red/maroon ie model with fuel injection and 5 speed then later a pale green standard with carbs and 4 speed .
    Unfortunately impending marriage and fatherhood meant for once
    head ruled heart and I realised the cost of ( only ) in 70’s around £1,250 the costs of servicing and repairs as well as insurance were probably beyond me.
    I did manage to get the new wife to part with her savings as the TR4A was totally unsuitable for a pram and I picked up a Triumph Dolomite Sprint with Stage 2 SAH conversion in striking magenta!
    Interestingly my daughter when grown up was discussing the rarety of my TR4A with Dove bodywork with a taxi driver ( I had lent the money as I could not drop her myself)
    By serendipty the driver knew a Triumph TR enthusiast and to cut a long story short he bought it and it has been restored to better than new!
    I still have unrequited love for the beautiful italian mistress
    and I am still looking and now retired I could easily be tempted if I see the right car!!!
    Its funny I covered the Hunt v Lauda epic fully through the pages of Motorsport ( is it still going??) and never knew that Lauda had one!!
    Great article by the way, has evoked fond memories!!

    Reply
    • April 25, 2014
      Gavin Braithwaite-Smith

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      It’s funny how the Lancia 2000 seems to leave a lasting impression in the mind of anyone has come stumbled across it.

      Not that a Triumph Dolly Sprint was a particularly poor choice of practical car. Hats off to you, sir.

      Reply
  10. May 13, 2014
    peter writer

    I owned a 1974 lancia 2000 iniezione from 1974 to 1981.I loved it
    like no other car I’ve ever owned including Alfas, Saabs ,Peugueots etc.,My wife and now grown-up children still say it was the best car we ever had. With big green velvet armchair like seats, it was superbly comfortable and rode and handled beautifully. As a fast long distance tourer it was superb and never missed a beat in the time I owned it.The horizontally opposed four cylinder motor set low in front of the front wheels was , however, its best feature and I have never understood why Fiat never persevered with this motor.

    Reply
  11. July 2, 2014
    WIktor

    co ciekawe takie samochody często lądują na złomie, opisano to w artykule na http://www.lanciastory.pl/lancia-2000-zaginiona-kolekcja/#axzz36LVSVWt3

    Reply
  12. November 9, 2014
    Vince turley

    Hi everyone,very interesting read,I bought a 2000 early this year,it’s a restoration job definetly,I’m sure it would have been parted out if I hadn’t got it,
    Rust rust and missing parts.its a 1972?It’s got a very interesting history,
    When I start the restoration I shall have to do a blog,
    Regards
    Vince

    Reply
    • November 12, 2014
      Gavin Braithwaite-Smith

      Nice one, Vince. Keen to find out more.

      Was this the one for sale in Dorset by any chance?

      Reply

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