Sir Basil Spence’s Lancia Flavia Vignale

A 1963 Lancia Flavia Vignale Convertible first owned by celebrated architect Sir Basil Spence will be offered for sale by Silverstone Auctions at the prestigious Salon Privé Sale at Blenheim Palace on 2nd September.

One of Britain’s most distinguished modern architects of the post war era, and most notably associated with Coventry cathedral, Sir Basil Spence is also known to have been a car enthusiast and purchased the Lancia Flavia Vignale in April 1963.

As one of approximately 40 right-hand drive, UK examples, the car was priced at £2,350, which was a considerable sum at the time. It is believed he bought the car as an appropriate gesture whilst he was working on his design for the British Embassy in Rome.

Finished in Newmarket Grey, at the time the car wore Spence’s private number plate, BS 1066 (sadly not included in the sale), which was apparently the architect’s typically patriotic response to General De Gaulle's block on allowing Britain into the EEC.

However, it is believed that difficulties with the Italian planning authorities caused Sir Basil to dispose of the Lancia 'in protest' and replace it with a Jaguar, although exactly when is not clear.

Now for sale with Warwickshire-based specialist auction house, Silverstone Auctions, the car has recently benefited from a full bare-metal respray carried out by Custom Motor Bodies of Birmingham, and returned its original hue of Newmarket Grey. It is expected to sell for £35,000 to £45,000 when it goes to auction in September.

“This little Flavia presents beautifully and must be one of the finest examples of these underrated sixties Lancias currently available,” explains Will Smith, sales manager, Silverstone Auctions. “Sir Basil Spence’s ownership adds to the car’s unique past and will appeal to admirers of his work as an extremely successful and world-recognised architect.”

The Flavia comes with a restored and repainted factory hardtop, Biscuit leather interior with matching Wilton carpets, handsome wood rimmed steering wheel and original Motorola push button radio.

“It's a refined and practical four seater with a large boot, thoroughbred road manners, traditional Lancia quality and an exotic presence which is normally associated with much more highly strung and expensive Italian sports cars. With prices of Aurelia and Flaminia models now so strong, it's hard to see why the Flavia Convertible won't be heading the same way in the near future,” concludes Will.

The car is accompanied by an extensive history file including the original Lancia Guarantee in Spence's name (with his Canonbury Place, London N1 address) as well as more recent correspondence with the current Spence family. Also in the history file are a number of older MoT Certificates going back to the late seventies, which appear to support the recorded mileage of 51,604 miles.

To find out more about the 1963 Lancia Flavia Vignale Convertible and Silverstone Auctions’ Salon Privé Sale, please visit