Lancia Flavia II Cabriolet

Rédaction : Albert Lallement  

A TEMPORARY REVIVAL

At the 2012 Geneva Motor Show, visitors to the Lancia stand discovered a cabriolet by the name of Flavia II. The new model carried on the name of one of the brand's most popular cars, launched in 1960.

With the exception of the Beta Spider of 1974, which featured a Targa-type body (coupé with removable hardtop), Lancia had not produced a cabriolet since the Flavia Convertibile, whose production ended in 1967 after more than 1,600 examples had been produced. The new Flavia II Cabriolet, which was a rebadged Chrysler 200, failed to meet with the expected commercial success, despite its prestigious historic name. In autumn 2013, the new Flavia was removed from Lancia's catalogue after selling just a few hundred units.

The Flavia II was to suffer from its non-European origins, preventing it from becoming part of the history of Lancia, a glorious name in Italian motoring. © IXO Collections SAS - Tous droits réservés. Crédits photo © Lancia D.R.

With Fiat taking an ever larger stake in the Chrysler Group, the history seems to be stalling... At Lancia, for example, the old names that made the Turin-based manufacturer such a success were returning. In the 2000s, for example, the names Flavia, Delta and Kappa reappeared in the company's catalogue. The purpose of these prestigious names was nothing less than to revive the past glory of the brand which was founded by Vincenzo Lancia in 1906.

The Flavia was available with only one 173 bhp 2.4 litre petrol engine and one standard body colour, with metallic paint as an option. © IXO Collections SAS - Tous droits réservés. Crédits photo © Lancia D.R.

NEW HOPE FROM AMERICA 

Lancia lost its former glory decades ago, a victim of the Fiat Group's failure to preserve the glorious brand image of the company it had absorbed in 1969. During the difficult period in which it was kept on life support, Lancia managed to maintain its identity as a manufacturer with a tradition of good taste and Italian elegance. This was not without its difficulties, as the progressive takeover of Chrysler by Fiat necessarily led to a unification of the two companies' ranges. As a result, a number of the American manufacturer's models are now sold in Europe under the Lancia brand. This transitory situation lasted until the final merger of the two groups leading to the creation of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV in 2014. It was only then that the two manufacturers began to produce some genuinely new models. In the meantime, cars designed exclusively for the American market, featuring a very specific brand image, simply inherited the Lancia logo on their radiator grille, as was the case with the Chrysler 200. Clearly, this transplant, carried out in a commercial emergency, was bound to fail.

The Flavia was the most spacious cabriolet on the market at the time. Two large adults can easily fit in the back, while the boot can hold 198 litres when uncovered.© IXO Collections SAS - Tous droits réservés. Crédits photo © © Lancia D.R.

EFFECTIVE PROMOTION 

After being presented as a Concept Car at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2011, the Flavia II cabriolet was revealed in its definitive form at the following edition of the notorious Swiss show. Despite being a commercial niche car for the Fiat Group, the Lancia Flavia was promoted extensively, with two major press presentations in particular. The first, more technical, took place in May 2012 at the Fiat Group's historic wind tunnel in Orbassano, south of Turin, to highlight the aerodynamics of the bodywork. The second, for photographers, took place the following June in the Sicilian town of Taormina. In September 2012, the Lancia Flavia II cabriolet was also used as the official car to take the stars of the silver screen to the 69th Venice Film Festival. For this prestigious occasion, the Flavia was made available in a luxurious Red Carpet Show Car version with a pearl-white body and original red leather upholstery (Pelle Frau Pieno Fiore) by Poltrona Frau, a prestigious Turin-based saddler who had been working regularly with Lancia since the 1920s.

The Flavia's dashboard was well equipped, with a touchscreen that combined Blutooth telephone and GPS navigation functions. © IXO Collections SAS - Tous droits réservés. Crédits photo © Lancia D.R.

AFTER EIGHTEEN MONTHS... 

For all its qualities, this model failed to find an audience, and even less so that of the Turin-based brand's enthusiast customers. Lancia's sales department targeted one thousand units for 2012 and two thousand the following year. For its first year, this target was a long way from being met, with just 218 cars sold in Italy (its main market) and 87 in France. Only 225 cars were sold in 2013... During the summer of 2013, Lancia tried to boost sales by offering a promotional discount of 13,000 Euros, which brought the price of the Flavia to around 24,900 Euros. Nothing happened, and at the end of autumn 2013, the Flavia II cabriolet was quietly removed from Lancia's catalogue after barely a year and a half of production. Several factors contributed to the lack of interest in this model, despite the enthusiasm of the trade press at the time of its launch. First of all, its large size (almost 5 metres) and slightly dated engineering, plus the absence of a diesel engine that was much appreciated on the European market. But the biggest drawback identified by purists was the model's origin: an American Chrysler Sebring convertible, based on a Japanese chassis, that of the Mitsubishi Lancer. Ultimately, for a brand as glorious and viscerally Italian as Lancia, and with a name as historic as the Flavia, this was the wrong approach.

The Flavia II cabriolet was criticised for not having a retractable hardtop, although this was initially planned. © IXO Collections SAS - Tous droits réservés. Crédits photo © Lancia D.R.

Fiche technique

Lancia Flavia II Cabriolet (2012)

•  Engine: Chrysler type GEMA 2.4 16v, 4 cylinders in line, front transverse 

•  Displacement: 2,360 cm3 

•  Bore x stroke: 88 mm x 97 mm 

•  Power: 173 bhp at 6,000 rpm 

•  Fuel: naturally-aspirated (petrol) 

•  Ignition: multipoint electronic fuel injection 

•  Timing: double overhead camshaft, 4 valves per cylinder 

•  Drivetrain: front wheel drive, 6-speed sequential automatic gearbox + M.A. 

•  Tyres: 215/55 R18 (front and rear) 

•  Brakes: ventilated discs (diameter 340 mm) at front and solid discs (diameter 302 mm) at rear 

•  Length: 4947 mm 

•  Width: 1843 mm 

•  Height: 1479 mm 

•  Wheelbase: 2765 mm 

•  Front track: 1570 mm 

•  Rear track: 1570 mm 

•  Weight (unladen): 1,781 kg 

•  Maximum speed: 195 km/h

ORIGINALLY A CHYSLER

After Fiat acquired a 20% stake in Chrysler in 2009, rising to 35% in 2012, and in accordance with agreements reached with the US Treasury Department, Fiat S.p.A. CEO Sergio Marchionne decided to distribute certain models from the Chrysler range using the Lancia brand name in Europe. The Chrysler 200 was presented at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2012 as the Lancia Flavia II.

The Chrysler 200 was launched in 2010 as a replacement for the Chrysler Sebring, available as a saloon and Touring station wagon, followed by a convertible version in 2011. The version sold in the United States was powered by a 2.4-litre GEMA four-cylinder engine developing 173 bhp, and a 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 producing 287 bhp. The first of these engines was the only one available on the European version of the Flavia II. The Chrysler 200 and Lancia Flavia were assembled at the same FCA plant in Sterling Heights, Michigan, where the saloon version of the Chrysler 200 was produced until 2017.

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