Lancia signed with De Tomaso to "attract" Americans. This is the story of the HF Competizione, a unique and special version of the Fulvia of the late 1960s.

First presented at the Geneva and Turin Motor Shows in 1969, this unique Lancia was the result of a collaboration between the Ghia coachbuilder and the Dutch designer Tom Tjaarda (who also designed the Ferrari 330 GT 2+2 and, later, the Autobianchi Y10).

De Tomaso's approach

The project was the brainchild of Alejandro De Tomaso who, in the late 1960s, was convinced that he could attract Ford's attention by making the American company believe that Lancia was a genuine rival to Ferrari.

In reality, De Tomaso's aim was to become CEO of Lancia once the deal with Ford, then run by his friend Lee Iacocca, had been concluded. However, the deal didn't go through and Fiat, having discovered the deception, decided to get ahead of its direct competitors and acquire Lancia.

<p>Lancia Fulvia HF Competizione</p>

Lancia Fulvia HF Competizione

The Fulvia HF Competizione was designed to dominate the racetrack. Built with a steel-reinforced aluminium chassis for strength and lightness, the car was designed not only as a Grand Tourer for everyday use, but also as a racing car.

The chassis, similar to that of the traditional Fulvia, is modified by De Tomaso to lower the 1.6-litre V4 engine by 30 mm, thus improving dynamic performance. Other technical improvements included the adoption of a double independent swing axle shaft on the rear axle and the installation of a large aluminium fuel tank at the rear.

Heading for Le Mans

The innovations don't stop there. The Fulvia HF Competizione boasts an aerodynamic design that underlines its sporty character. The concealed headlights, engine bonnet and quick-release fuel filler cap are reminiscent of the racing world, while at the rear an adjustable retractable spoiler increases downforce at high speeds.

Other Lancia innovations designed for racing include Plexiglas side windows and a bespoke windscreen, thinner than normal to reduce weight, commissioned from the Belgian company Glaverbel.

<p>The V4 engine of the Fulvia HF Competizione</p>

Le moteur V4 de la Fulvia HF Competizione

In fact, it seems that all these innovations were implemented so that the Fulvia HF Competizione could actually be driven on the track. Indeed, many experts believe that the Lancia was tested on various circuits to take part in the Le Mans 24 Hours in 1970, before the deal with Ford fell through, too bad.

Gallery: Lancia Fulvia HF Competizione