“If you get somebody into a Flaminia, they cannot believe that it’s 50 or 60 years old,” says Thornley. “Unlike most cars of that age, they actually go around corners. Mechanically, they are more robust than an Aurelia: the transaxle is stronger, the clutch is better, everything is heavier. They are hugely over-engineered.”
Bodywork, at least on the aluminium variants, did not aspire to the same high standards: “On the Zagatos and Tourings, we still marvel at how bad some of the welding is – but it’s the same as Ferrari and all those other Italian cars of the period. Nobody intended them to last this long. It’s the most expensive part of any restoration.”
“There is an enormous amount of trim on a Pininfarina Coupé,” says Kelham, “so much so that you wonder how they thought they were going to make money.” Not that many PF Coupés have had the full treatment; as with saloons, the end value doesn’t justify it. Both men acknowledge that there are lots of Flaminias that they are never going to see because the numbers don’t add up.
As Thornley points out, you can spend more than 1000 hours on the body of a Convertible or GT: “The trouble is, you are into six figures to sort the corrosion on a Touring, but what is the most that anyone is going to pay for one? They should be £250-350k, but people baulk at that – yet an Aston DB4 convertible is 800 grand! They were equally pricey new, but the perception today is that Flaminias shouldn’t be expensive simply because they have been cheap for 50 years. That’s why you don’t see many really good ones: it’s expensive to get to our level of detail.”
Prices are all over the place, but even now it’s rare to be able to buy one and restore it without losing money, except maybe the Zagatos. “There are quite a lot of Tourings for sale,” says Thornley, “but not many people can send you pictures of them being bare-metalled.” Kelham is not sure that Flaminias will ever catch up with prices of the more obvious exotica: “They just aren’t fast
in a straight line. A ’60s Aston is still quite quick; the Lancia isn’t, and people don’t always get the appeal.” Are they too subtle? “I don’t like the term,” says Thornley, “but they are connoisseur cars.”
Flaminias are mechanically rugged but not without issues. Brake servos are a perennial problem and TK has put a lot of effort into getting the set-up right on the 3Cs. “The single carbs are easy,” says Thornley, “but the triple 40s on the Super Sports in particular can catch fire. With a return line, Maserati-type needle floats and a few other mods, we can stop the fuel percolating down and igniting on the ends of the valves.
“We have fitted extra fans to reduce heat and spent a lot of time porting cylinder heads so the engine doesn’t run on and is easier to start from hot. In fairness, most of the problem is down to modern fuel: it just evaporates so quickly.”
“The V6 is really durable,” says Kelham, “but it’s surprising how many were changed within the first 10 years. Some people get very worked up about it, but we think it’s just part of the history.” The transaxle is also robust, but TK routinely rebuilds them, which soaks up 80-90 hours.
“The parts situation is probably easier than it was 20 years ago,” believes Kelham, “but the prices have rocketed. Service items are easy, but body-wise, apart from floorpans and some structural pieces, you have to make everything.”
Thanks to Thornley Kelham for sourcing the cars
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