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  •   C Gooch reacted to this post about 10 months ago
    Obscurati curiosities from the amazing world of Italian cars. B#oneschi-Lancia-Flaminia-Amalfi-Spider / Story by Chris Rees. / #Lancia-Flaminia-Spider-Amalfi-824 / #1961 / #Boneschi / #Lancia-Flaminia / #Lancia / #Lancia-Flaminia-Spider / #1961-Lancia-Flaminia-Spider-Amalfi / #Carrozzeria-Boneschi

    Carrozzeria-Boneschi was once one of the stars of Italian coachbuilt couture. Founded in Cambiago, near Milan, at the end of World War I, its founder, Giovanni Boneschi, concentrated on prestige coachwork for upmarket chassis such as the Lancia Lambda, Dilambda, Astura and Aprilia, as well as the Alfa Romeo 6C 2500. It was even thought good enough for official government commissions.

    After WW2, Boneschi turned its attentions to making special bodies for the Alfa Romeo 1900 and Lancia Aurelia B53, and in 1957 signed a deal with Alfa Romeo to transform Giuliettas into Giardinetta estate cars. In 1960 it launched coachbuilt Alfa Romeo 2600s with coupe or cabriolet bodywork.

    In April 1961, it returned to Lancia stable with a new Flaminia-based convertible, styled by industrial designer Rodolfo Bonetto. Bonetto was a fascinating figure. He abandoned a career as a jazz drummer to take up car design. In this he was inspired by his uncle, Felice Bonetto, the well-known racing driver. Nicknamed ‘The Pirate’, Felice raced works Maseratis and Alfa Romeos – and even won the Grande Premio do Jubileu Formula 1 race in 1953.

    Back to Rodolfo, he was very much a self-taught stylist. His talents were recognised by Pininfarina, where he worked from 1951 to 1957, before setting up his own design studio in Milan in 1958. He worked with numerous companies, not just Boneschi but Vignale and Viotti as well. Bonetto went on to become one the great names in Italian architecture and industrial design, creating objects as diverse as musical instruments, TVs, suitcases and hi-fi systems. He won no fewer than eight ‘Compasso d'Oro’ design awards, including one for the interior of the Fiat 131 Supermirafiori in 1978.

    Let’s return to 1961 and the subject of our piece, Bonetto’s first work for Boneschi. Launched at the 1961 Turin Motor Show, it was based on a Lancia Flaminia chassis originally destined for Carrozzeria Touring (chassis 824.04) and was fitted with a 119hp engine.

    Bonetto’s compact two-seater roadster was very unusual. Its lines were just about as sharpedged as any Italian design ever got. In some ways it reflected the new squared-off shapes emerging from the USA and perhaps could even be said to prefigure the ‘folded paper’ school of design that Giugiaro would follow in the next decade.

    The bonnet, for instance, was almost completely flat, as was the boot lid. The front wings were angled forwards and their top edges were so sharply pointed that you might expect to slice your fingers on them if you traced their outline. The rear end, meanwhile, was cleanliness taken to a new extreme.

    In an age when recessed door handles were not commonplace, the idea of bevelling the handles into the doors was a novel one. The four headlamps appeared to ‘float’ in the heavily chromed grille.

    The car was dubbed the Amalfi Spider and was painted ivory with red sills, plus a red interior and soft-top. Overall the shape might not be described as classically beautiful but for its time it was extremely striking. It remained, however, a one-off.

    Bonetto went on to design the extraordinary (and curiously named) Maserati 3500 GT ‘Tight’ for Boneschi in 1962, followed by the more appealing Boneschi OSCA 1600 GT ‘Swift’ in 1963.

    However, that was it for Bonetto and Boneschi, a company for which the early 1960s marked a turning point. The business of high-class coachwork was in terminal decline and the carrozzeria was forced to turn its attention to making buses, trucks and armoured vehicles. It even sank as low as making sanitary fittings. However, it did still make the occasional car, including a two-door version of the Lancia Thema in the 1980s, called the Gazella. Boneschi was eventually swallowed up by Carrozzeria Savio of Turin.
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  •   Antonio Ghini reacted to this post about 3 years ago
    Your tales of cars bought and sold on a whim. Rare right-hand drive Flaminia joined the ranks of classics that hindsight would never have let slip away.

    A dream fulfilled. And then... Fresh out of college and enjoying my first ‘proper’ job as a technical writer for a building products company, I was sent to Milan in the mid-Eighties to visit a factory that made designer radiators for upmarket homes.
    Rare right-hand drive Flaminia joined the ranks of classics that hindsight would never have let slip away.
    The MD and I soon found that we shared a love of old cars: he told me that in the Sixties he regularly drove from Milan to Zurich on business. He had the choice of a Lancia Flaminia GT and a Ferrari 330 GT in which to tackle the Alpine route. ‘For drama, I used the Ferrari,’ he said. ‘But if I was in a hurry? The Flaminia every time.’ From that moment on I knew my life would not be complete until I too was behind the wheel of a Flaminia GT. I had owned a Lancia Fulvia and I liked the way that Lancisti referred to the cars as ‘the thinking man’s Alfa Romeo’ because of their superior engineering.

    After years of trying to find one within my budget I saw an ad in Exchange & Mart that simply said, ‘1963 Lancia Flaminia GT. RHD. Runs and drives but needs cosmetic TLC. £6950 ono.’ Hours later I was on a train from Birmingham to Edinburgh with a carrier bag full of £20 notes and a road atlas. Just a few hours after that I had haggled £450 off the price and was the owner of my dream car, a battered but sweet-running silver Flaminia GT with a 2.5-litre triple-carb engine and a red leather interior. Best of all, it was one of only 12 made in factory right-hand drive. It ran faultlessly all the way to Brum and I felt like the luckiest man alive. I used the car almost daily for the next three years but became increasingly aware that it would soon need major surgery. The top end had developed a rattle and every time I shut the door, flakes of rust tinkled on to the tread plate. A visit to Italian car specialist Steve Hobbs confirmed the worst: it was going to cost at least twice what I’d paid for it just to get it through an MoT.

    This was far more than I could possibly afford, so with a heavy heart I entered it into a local classic car auction and saw it go for £10,000. The tidy profit offered some consolation but I still felt bereft. And to find another within my budget was now out of the question, this being the early-2000s when classic car prices were getting silly.

    I replaced it with a 1978 Porsche 911SC that cost me exactly the same as the Lancia (£6500) but was in a different league when it came to condition, being shiny and straight. I enjoyed my 911 immensely but still felt a void where the Lancia had been. Scroll forward a few years and, now with a little more money at my disposal, I resolved to try and buy the Flaminia back. I tracked down the owner with the help of the auction house who had sold it.

    He wouldn’t sell, even though he’d never even looked at the car since buying it, keeping it in an underground car park as an investment. That still annoys me.

    To bring the story full circle, I bought another Flaminia GT - admittedly in very poor state and left-hand drive - and I’m midway through a (necessarily low-budget) restoration. I want it back on the road where it belongs (take note, Mr Investor), and have resolved that this time I’ll never sell it as it remains my dream car. Unless I get a phone call from London. Come on, Mr Investor - you know who you are.
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  • David Byron created this group

    Lancia Flaminia

    Lancia Flaminia GT Club
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