Italian Cars

How to Buy Your First Italian Classic

A classic Lancia Fulvia Coupe

For driving enthusiasts the ultimate expression of their devotion is the purchase of a classic Italian automobile. Beyond the year of the model and the name of its manufacturer, the maintenance history is one of the most important things to consider.


Between its manufacture and its existence today these classic Italian cars could tell some interesting stories if they could talk; several of these models were a common sight on the road as inexpensive used cars before they became collectibles.

Unfortunately, many of the owners of these vehicles did not provide the level of maintenance to support the mechanical ability the car was designed to give. For those that were well serviced by an experienced and knowledgeable technician, it should prove to be as reliable as any car.

From the models described here, obtaining parts for them should not be a problem, due to an extensive, active roster of suppliers and information sources that perform well in their support of vintage Italian cars. Whether you purchase a classic Fiat, Alfa Romero, Ferrari or Lancia, you will be able to keep your car on the road.

The two cars listed here are quite different in character with the famous Italian flair in the art of driving that is almost a sensual experience. From the way you sit in the driver’s seat, sounds the car makes during the drive and especially in their handling, are the defining characteristics from auto makers who created their vehicles to be a passionate experience for the driver.

Surprisingly, many of these cars can be found at prices comparable to brand-new models being sold today. Additionally, some of these classics are less than 50 years old, making them an investment that will appreciate rapidly.

One prime example of a great choice for the individualist is the 1965-76 Lancia Fulvia Coupe which can be found on the market in the $11,000-$18,000 price range. This small car offering was the successor of Lancia’s “Appia” model. Known as one of the most innovative car manufacturers in Italy, Lancia introduced the Fulvia Coupe in 1965.

One of the outstanding features of this clean design included front-wheel drive powered by a narrow-angle, overhead-cam V4 engine. The engine was first introduced with 1.2 liter capacity and evolved to a capacity of 1.6 liters. After Fiat gained control of Lancia, the company introduced a second-series cars, in 1970 adding a five-speed gearbox to its list of features.

For high-performance lovers, the company produced a model called the “HF,” which is part of the base for the Fulvia rally cars that won several championships in the 1970s. If this is the model that fascinates you, expect to see the prices for the HF coupes, especially the 1.6 liter model at the higher end.

For those who appreciate a car that is fun to drive, the great handling of any Fulvia is a fabulous experience that shows your unique taste in automobiles separating you from the pack. The advantages of this car as your choice for your first classic car purchase are found in its racing history, superb design and its rarity in the marketplace. This car is rewarding to own and drive, one that is most suited to drivers who march to the beat of their own drum.

The fact that these models are hard to find may pose a challenge to some first-time collectors. And because these cars were produced in limited numbers, parts availability may be difficult as well. If you are looking at the possibility to resell this car at a future date, the previous points should be taken into consideration of the current small resale market.


On the other side of the market is the 1971-74 Pantera on the market today in the $40,000-$65,000 price range. This Italian-American hybrid was commissioned by Ford Motors and was positioned as a challenge to the formidable Corvette. For the Lincoln-Mercury dealers of the time, there was little to disappoint; the Pantera boasted a Ghia-slick Tom Tjaarda design for the body, a powerful Ford 351 Cleveland engine, and the marketing muscle of one of the world’s largest automakers.

Ford Motors’ direct connection with this beautiful automobile ended in 1974, however the production  of the Pantera model continued under the DeTomaso banner until 1989. One of the best features of the Pantera design is its ample interior room,  electric windows and air conditioning.

These high-performance Ford engines were very easy to tune resulting in many fantastically customized Panteras. For those just starting their collection, a Pantera model dated before 1975 would be ideal. This is a great way to enjoy the enduring quality of a vintage Italian car with all of the creature comforts and performance to satisfy the person who loves the street racer image. Another big selling point is the access to parts and easy maintenance service and support.

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