Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

1955 Lancia Florida

1955 Lancia Florida Four-Door
The four-door 1955 Lancia Florida hardtop sedan debuted in September 1955.
The four-door 1955 Lancia Florida hardtop sedan debuted in September 1955.
2007 Publications International, Ltd.

It didn't take long for Pinin Farina to develop a four-door version of the 1955 Lancia Florida design. It was ready in September 1955, still on the same short-wheelbase platform.

The windshield base was moved forward and the hood correspondingly shortened to make room for the rear doors. Headlamps were relocated from the grille to the fenders, with the parking lights directly below. A Ferrari-like air scoop appeared on the hood, and the A-posts were straightened to vertical, still with a wrapped windshield.

Like the coupe, the four-door Florida was pillarless. Doors were center-opening, and Farina came up with a novel arrangement to make up for the lack of B-posts. When closed, the back doors locked into the fronts, and all doors also latched on the sills.

The four-door Lancia Florida used center-opening, pillarless construction.
The four-door Lancia Florida used center-opening, pillarless construction.
2007 Publications International, Ltd.

Frameless sideglass precluded any roof-mounted door attachment points. Lancia had some misgivings about this arrangement, so the Flaminia emerged as a pillared sedan with full window frames and conventional front-hinged rear doors.

The Flaminia was built on a 113-inch wheelbase. Power was supplied by the largest 2.5-liter (152-cubic-inch) version of the Aurelia V-6, detuned to 102 horsepower. Naturally it inherited the Aurelia's front-drive transaxle, thus keeping tooling costs within strict limits.

The de Dion rear suspension was retained, but Fessia departed wildly from Lancia practice by going to a new front suspension design with upper and lower A-arms and coil springs inclined at about 20 degrees from vertical.

Several major manufacturers had noticed the fundamental styling change represented by the original Lancia Florida and began talking to Pinin Farina about doing something similar. What he did was sell a scaled-down version of the basic Flaminia design intended to accept engines of 1.5-2.0 liters (91-121 cid).

It appeared in quick succession at British Motor Corporation in 1958 (Wolseley 15/60, Austin A-55 Cambridge, MG Magnette Mark III, Morris Oxford Series IV, and Riley 4/68), at Fiat in 1959 (1800 and 2100), and at Peugeot in 1960 (for the 404). The French and Italian cars stayed with big horizontal grilles. Austin and Morris used less daring ones, while the Riley and Wolseley had narrower, more traditional, vertical-bar treatments.

Pronounced rear fender "fins" appeared on the British cars, which also had horizontal chrome moldings running back from headlamp center level and curved downward in the rear door area. More modest blades graced the Peugeot, while the Fiats' flanks were straight.

The Florida was already influential, but Pinin Farina had still further plans for this design. Continue on to the next page for details.

For more information on cars, see: