In my era, the greatest car was definitely that Lancia Fulvia…the HF. I remember driving one and thinking, “Oh goodness, if we only had one of these, it would be much easier!” That was in the mid-1960s, and those cars had a lot of success in 1966 and 1967. I drove Ove Anderson’s car on the Turini stage and was very impressed with it. I nearly drove for Lancia after BMC closed, when Cesare Fiorio offered me a drive, but I was worried about the lira and the exchange rate and not being able to change my money, which was difficult in those days!
As I recall, the car started with a 1.2 engine before it got the “bigger” 1.3. They started out with that smaller engine but with twin Solex or Weber carburetors and could really rev with only a four-speed box, but with bigger valves they were getting 100 bhp. It doesn’t seem like much now, but it was impressive then. I think the 1.3 engine came in 1967 and that had just the Solex carbs, but the cars were stripped out and were very light in weight. Ove Andersson won the Monte in 1967, and then, I think, the Sanremo, the Acropolis, the Spanish Rally, and what he didn’t win in the works team, Sandro Munari did.
That basic car was winning rallies right up through 1969, mostly with the 1.3 engine, but a few times with a 1.4 and at least once with a 1.6—the Tour de Corse with Rauno Altonen. The car was so light, all engine and wheels, and it would point in the direction you would steer it. The performance was very, very good. If the Lancia team had been better organized, they would have won a lot more.
Of course, as soon as you think about this subject, you start thinking about other cars…the Ford Escort and Hannu Mikkola. The 1.6 Escort came in toward the end of the Lancia Fulvia period, in 1968. Ove Andersson had gone over to Ford and won the Sanremo in 1968, and then Roger Clark started winning not only British rallies but a lot of the Internationals in 1968…the Circuit of Ireland, the Tulip, and the Acropolis. Mikkola won the Thousand Lakes in 1968 and then the Austrian and the Thousand Lakes again in 1969. I think Hannu even won it a third time in the Escort in 1970 [which he did–Ed].
I suppose you would then have to count the Audi Quattro for the significance it had in changing the technique of driving. I never drove one but it had a big impact on rallying and the way you drove rally cars. Of course, I had also driven the big Healeys, not just in rallies. I had left Rootes for the big Healey because it was going to be successful. It had lots of power, it was great going up hill…but not so great going down! It was strong and good for rallying and racing, and it did well in racing.
If there was a car I wish I had driven but never did, it would be the Audi Quattro. It was just after my era, but I would have liked to have had a chance to drive that.