Eric Lynn — This FLU Spells Car Fever

  • story by David M. Brown
  • posted on 10/2011
  • posted in: Great Garages

American born, Eric Lynn was raised in Europe, living in Italy 1965–72. His dad, Richard, was an engineer and executive with a firm that manufactured heavy equipment in Pinerolo, near Turin.

He studied architecture at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania. “By then my father’s Lancia collection had eight different models from 1934 to 1971. My dad had driven some of these cars new and became a lifetime Lancia fan,” says Eric, whose Phoenix-based business develops software for business imaging systems.

The two built a 1936 Augusta for the Lancia centennial in 1981 and rejuvenated it again for the Lancia general meeting rally last year in Oxford; the car is stored with Eric’s sister in England.

“Sadly, it is the only one of his original collection still around, so this is why I am rebuilding a rusty ‘59 Appia for him — an old favorite of his,” he explains. He and dad are also are working on a 1934 Augusta in New Jersey.

His wife, Wendy Rozov, is from Philly; they met in college. “She has ‘acquired’ a taste for cars — especially at the events. She calls the relaxing Saturdays ‘car show Shabbat,’” he notes, referring to the Jewish Sabbath.

Eric drove a 1969 MGC in college but didn’t build a collection from 1988 to 2004. He bought a 1982 Lancia Zagato because his father was enjoying one and he thought it was a way to reconnect with him. They met at the national Fiat Lancia Unlimited (FLU) event in Missouri in 2004, with each driving their cars 1,400 miles one way. “His was black, mine white,” Eric recalls. “The event was called — get this — ‘The Meeting in the Middle.’”

Following this, he started the Arizona Desert FLU chapter; he is still the president and main organizer for the 75-member group. The club sponsors the annual Gita (Italian: “ride in the country”) Jan. 1; the group leaves Scottsdale in the morning and ends up “some place.” This follows an Italian proverb, Eric says: “‘You should do on the first of January that which you wish to do all year long.’ Driving Italian cars with friends seems a good choice.”

“I’ve always been a dyed-in-the wool Lancia fan — surprise — and all marques Italian. I consider Italy my first home, and the cars and style and culture bring me back,” he says. The FLU meetings introduced him to local aficionados such as Wayne Daudet. “I call Wayne ‘Mr. Fiat’ — an amazing collection. Because of his influence and the club’s, I searched for my first Fiat on a whim, but now I want more,” Eric says.

He’d also like to build his collection with older cars and more Italian brands. “I’ll have to wait for the economy to turn around,” he says. “For now, it’s tough to drop some cars for others. You become the steward of this particular example.”

Although his “garage” is distributed — some at work, some at home, some in other places — he drives the cars he can, frequently. “Until the Fiat, I drove nothing newer to work than the ‘82 for two years,” he says. “I have a chart to tell me which has had the least attention and needs to go next on a run — or just to dinner!”

Eric’s memorabilia is digital — tens of thousands of pictures. “I go to an event almost every month and almost always take pictures,” he says. Most importantly, he takes one of the cars each year to one of the shows. “My idea is to be with the car out of the garage — somewhere car related preferably.”

Let’s, though, all go into Eric’s garage: Entrate, per favore!

•1956 Fiat 600 Elaborata — “Mostly this is a story of my finding and retrieving the car. I was in Italy in 2006 driving a Fulvia Berlina and, being president of the Fiat/Lancia club in the Valley, I had always wanted to own my first Fiat. I went looking for a Cinquecento (Fiat 500) with an architect friend.

“After a couple days looking in Torino, Italy, we picked out four or five cars from around Brescia (the town of the Mille Miglia). I showed Wendy the list with pictures; she pointed to a 600.

“When we got to see ‘Lupita,’ as she is now affectionately called, it was almost dusk. The car was stored in a barn but a very nice historic barn with a paved stone floor and was surrounded by a collection of classic Vespa scooters.

“It had been well kept without affecting much of the patina of age. The original paint had been cared for so long it was polished through the top coat in a couple places. It had special handmade ornaments and extra chrome, upgraded paint and interior as well as original rubber protective mats from the ‘50s. Mechanically everything worked.

“After driving the car to a Lancia event — the water pump had to be changed in route — we enjoyed a few more days of touring and a ride to Lyon, France, to drop the car off at the carriers for the long truck and boat ride home.”

•1967 Lancia Fulvia Berlina — “It’s a front-wheel drive and a unique narrow-angle V-4 engine and twin sidedraft Solex carburetors that make 87 horsepower at 6,200 RPM and 84-ft./lbs. of torque at 4,500 RPM. Power to the front wheels comes through a Flavia-sourced floor-shifted four-speed manual gearbox.

“With all that chrome, our ’67 has the flavor of a classic car, but it runs and drives like a regular useable vehicle. We found the four-door Fulvia in Italy, and it had just 48,000 original kilometers.

“The car was basically in good shape; it needed a new battery and new tires, and it hadn’t been run in some time, so it also needed a tune-up and new hoses and belts all around.

“I get great reactions to the car, especially when people get close to it and see its details, like the chrome on the back. The nice thing about the Fulvia is that they built about 30,000 of them, and, although they were mostly sold in Italy and France, there are caches of parts here and there, and certainly caches of memories in peoples’ minds.

Wendy says: “I love the Berlina; out of all the cars we have, it’s my favorite. When I drive it, I’m transported back to the ‘60s, and I feel like Audrey Hepburn. I love taking that car to shows. It’s a beautifully made car that drives superbly.”

And Eric: “It’s a classic period family sedan with Italian flair. The body design is unique, solid and stately, and I like the way that it encourages you to shift slowly, deliberately and with purpose. The condition is best summed up by the mechanic, Antonio, who said, ‘Non chi sono stupidagini,’ which means ‘It hasn’t been mucked with.’”

•1979 Lancia Beta Zagato Coupe — “The project was started in 2006 by a club member from Kingman who is now sadly passed away. I finished it with tuning changes and an exquisite paint job and decal treatment. These cars are great for Phoenix because you can still lower the windows and ‘drop the top’ while leaving the targa section in place overhead for shade.

“Engine bay performance modifications include 10-1 pistons, a 40/80 Aquati cam and a Weber 34mm DATR two-barreled carb. The body is styled by Pinninfarina but built at the Zagato factory. This is one of 2,076 manufactured for the U.S. market. An Arizona car since new, it now has 65,000 miles.”

•1982 Lancia Zagato — “This is just a driver, but it is a sentimental item because it is the car that got me interested in collecting again after a 16-year hiatus. It also was the one that got my father and I working together on these projects and show events. As they say, it is the people involved in these hobbies that often matter more in propelling the enthusiasm. It is still one of the most fun and reliable cars I have: Go anywhere, do anything — with driving attitude and style to boot.”

•2012 Fiat 500 Prima Edizione — “One of only 500 made with the special badging and color combinations. This is #60 and, as first participants, we were able to select the VIN. I believe Jay Leno is #2. The car was ordered a full year before it was produced and delivered before any dealers were opened in Arizona. Many people don’t know it is a hydraulically controlled valve throttle, which allows for dynamic cam timing of the intake valves. I love the sport button which instantly changes the power curve from mild and economical to peppy and responsive.”

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