PetrolBlog didn’t do a lavish end-of-year awards ceremony, or a look back at the highlights of 12 months just gone. But if you asked me to pick a favourite article from 2013, it would undoubtedly be the nostalgic piece on the Lancia 2000 Sedan.
As I’ve mentioned previously, of all the cars my father owned, it’s the Lancia 2000 Sedan which I remember the most fondly. It therefore came as no surprise that this trip down memory lane delivered a one-take, straight from the heart blog post.
A few months after I wrote the piece, I received an email from Italy. It was the kind of email that makes this blogging thing seem worthwhile. It was from an Italian owner of a Lancia 2000 Sedan, and it started like this:
“Never before have I come across such a ‘love letter’ addressed to a car such as the one you wrote about the Lancia Sedan or Berlina.”
Gianfranco complimented me on my reference to Ingrid Bergman, before going on to say:
“Believe me, I too am a crazed ‘lover’ of this car, and can understand that such a description can only come from the heart of a child who is extraordinarily happy – and – further down the road – the victim of an incredible disappointment!”
The email was written by a Mr Gianfranco Calissoni, who I’ve since found out has owned his Lancia 2000 Sedan since 1975. Rather apt, given that this was the year of my birth.
Mr Calissoni is clearly a man of good taste. Not only did he buy a Lancia 2000 Sedan in 1975, but his previous car was a Fiat 124 Abarth Rally. PetrolBlog salutes you, Gianfranco.
Gianfranco worked in the pharmaceutical industry and the Lancia was pressed into active daily service. For years, it became his ‘home on wheels’ and – as Gianfranco puts it – his ‘love nest’.
Today, the mileage stands at a staggering half a million. So much for Lancia’s reputation for fragility and decline. Yes, you read that right – 500,000 miles.
Gianfranco would have purchased a 2000 Sedan sooner, as he first set eyes on one when working in the Dolomites. It was finished in a golden colour, complete with a green velvet interior. Sadly for Gianfranco, the price was too high…
But as luck would have it, he received a call from a doctor friend two years later. He was selling his Lancia 2000 Sedan and had a feeling Gianfranco would be interested. Two day later the Lancia was safely tucked away in Gianfranco’s garage at his home in Bolzano, not far from the Austrian border.
Fast forward 39 years and this rather wonderful ‘Ingrid’ – as Gianfranco calls it – is ‘sleeping’ soundly in a garage in northern Italy.
This year, Mr Calissoni will celebrate his 80th birthday. It’s quite remarkable that half his life has been shared with one car – the quite delightful and beautiful Lancia 2000 Sedan.
I have been invited out to Italy to ‘have a drive in her’, a remarkably generous offer and one I intend to accept. They say never meet your heroes, but in the case of Ingrid Bergman, it’s a risk I’m prepared to take.
I must say a huge thank you to Gianfranco for the emails, photographs and, of course, the kind offer of a test drive. His outpouring of love and affection for his 1970s Lancia really shines through. Here is a man who has quite literally lived with a car he fell in love with and was able to subsequently purchase. He has stuck by it through thick and thin, and the fact that it has completed a quite astonishing 500,000 miles is a testament to Gianfranco’s attentions.
It’s the perfect embodiment of the PetrolBlog spirit, where emotions are allowed to rule over common sense. Let the motoring world raise a glass of Castrol to help celebrate his 80th birthday. The world needs more people like you, sir.
We should also recognise our good friends over at Black Steelies, who have named the Lancia 2000 Sedan as the coolest car in the world. Oh yes.
Lancia images © Gianfranco Calissoni. 124 Abarth Rally © Fiat.