The November 27 it is a day to celebrate for Lancia, looking back in time. The Italian brand, now part of the Stellantis group, turns 115. And also the Lancia Flaminia presidential, one of the most institutional cars ever, has achieved the round figure of 60 years of service.
The car, designed by Pininfarina, it was portrayed at the Quirinale, where it belongs. Two of the four built specimens are kept in the Stables and are still used today on “great occasions” by the Head of State and the highest officials of the Republic. The brand, which was founded in Turin on November 27, 1906 by Vincenzo Lancia and Claudio Fogolin, both Fiat employees and car enthusiasts, is proud to represent the Presidency of the Republic, the highest expression of democracy in our country.
«This is a special day for our brand and this double celebration fills us with pride – stated Luca Napolitano, CEO of Lancia -. The Presidency of the Republic has allowed us to combine the 115 years of the brand with the 60 years of the Presidential Flaminia, offering us the backdrop of the Quirinale Palace. Two such significant celebrations for Lancia that it has produced beautiful cars, the result of the creative ingenuity of many engineers and designers, with a timeless style and which have become true standard-bearers of Italy all over the world. And leveraging this glorious history, we are ready to face our 10-year plan towards ever more sustainable mobility».
The Lancia Flaminia made its debut in 1957 at the Geneva Motor Show: high-class flagship, equipped with a 2.5-liter V6 engine, luxurious interiors and finishes. The Flaminia was soon enriched with special versions, made by coachbuilders and, in 1961, Pinin Farina built the presidential long-wheelbase convertible, called “335”, an abbreviation that indicated the measure of the step in centimeters. In a few months, four specimens were made that were baptized with proper names of thoroughbred horses from the Quirinale stables: Belfiore, Belmonte, Belvedere and Belsito. Belfiore, Belmonte and Belvedere were characterized by the cabriolet body with a rigid, foldable canvas roof, while the last, the Belsito, is equipped with a non-opening canvas roof above the driver’s seat. Painted in the characteristic midnight blue, all models feature black Connolly leather upholstery, intercom to communicate with the driver, five rear seats with a large sofa and two folding seats.
The car was used for the first time by President Giovanni Gronchi on the occasion of the visit to Italy of Queen Elizabeth II of England. Used in the past on the occasion of visits by important heads of state and for the celebrations of the Centenary of the Unification of Italy, they underwent a careful restoration in 2001 and currently two of the specimens are entrusted to the Quirinale Stables: Belfiore and Belvedere are in fact the cars for the “great occasions” of the Head of State and the highest offices of the Republic. The Belsito, on the other hand, can be viewed at the historical museum of the Military Motorization in Rome, while the Belmonte has been exhibited since 2001 at the Turin Automobile Museum.
At the time of their arrival, the Lancias brought technical progress to the Quirinale, replacing the old ministerial Fiat 2800s dating back to 1939. Under the hood, the Flaminia featured the same 6-cylinder V engine that delivered 102 HP as fitted to the production cars. Only the gear ratios were shortened to favor driving at very low parade speeds (4-6 km / h). Even the accessories differed from the production cars, some exclusive, such as the electric windows, the dividing glass that could be lowered between the driver’s compartment and the rear seats, and the radio, others more peculiar, such as the electric fuel pump and the coil for the additional ignition, designed to prevent any breakdowns from resulting in embarrassing forced stops in the middle of the ceremonies. Due to the increase in pace (total length: almost 5 and a half meters), the presidential Flaminia weigh over two tons.
Another great ‘highlights’ of the presidential Flaminia was the visit of the American President John Fitzgerald Kennedy on 1 July 1963. The cars continued their commitment until the end of the seventies, when for safety reasons they remained stationary most of the time, replaced from armored cars. Francesco Cossiga, however, was able to dust off the cars for great occasions, and also the subsequent president, Luigi Scalfaro, wanted it for official visits. With Carlo Azeglio Ciampi instead began the tradition, still in use today, of using the 335 during the inauguration ceremony and in parades on the occasion of the Republic Day. Giorgio Napolitano used it to leave the Quirinale, Sergio Mattarella to reach the presidential palace.