1955 Lancia Florida's Future
With the income from the sale of the Florida/Flaminia design to other automakers, Farina could have judged his commercial rewards from the Florida prototype as more than satisfactory. But his company was engaged in a rapid expansion program by this time, and was thus aggressively seeking manufacturing contracts. Farina had big plans for the 1955 Lancia Florida's future.
In 1955, the firm had purchased land in Grugliasco, a suburb of Turin, and its new production center was operating there before the end of 1958. This capacity had to be put to use as quickly as possible. Assembling the Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider (of which 27,000 were eventually produced) was a good start, but it was only a start.
To drum up more business, Pinin Farina made yet another pitch to Lancia with the Florida II, a two-door coupe built in 1957 on a short-wheelbase version of the Flaminia platform. For him, it marked a return to the original Florida concept.
The big difference this time was that he had a production model as a starting point. Lancia approved the Florida II and, with a few changes, it entered production in 1958 as the Flaminia coupe. Lancia insisted on a steeper windshield rake, framed door glass, door vent windows, and a bigger air scoop, the main modifications to the basic design.
Built on a 108.3-inch wheel-base, the Flaminia coupe weighed 3,175 pounds, and this plus an engine uprated to 119 horsepower raised top speed from the sedan’s 99 mph to 111 mph.
Pinin Farina built 5,235 Flaminia coupes over a nine-year period, and some of them came to America. (The Florida II prototype served for years as the maestro’s personal car.) The Flaminia sedan was discontinued at the end of 1963 after production of nearly 3,300 units, including 600 “late” models equipped with a 2.8-liter, 125-horsepower version of the V-6.
Pinin Farina died in 1968. Lancia was absorbed by the Fiat conglomerate in 1969, after 10 years as part of the Italcementi group. The ties between Lancia and the Pininfarina company (renamed in the early 1960s) are no longer as close as they once were, but the collaboration is still alive.
As for the Florida line, it made a strong reappearance in the Pininfarina design for the production Fiat 130 coupe of 1971, and you can see traces of it in the 1980s Peugeot 505. It has influenced countless designers all over the world. In particular, it’s present in some Jaguar, Rolls-Royce/Bentley, BMW, Ford, Nissan, and Volvo models.
A milestone in the evolution of car design, the Florida stands as one of Pinin Farina’s greatest single efforts. And considering his many other masterworks, that’s saying a lot.
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