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Discussion Starter #1
In less than two weeks my wife, three month old baby and I will land in Athens where we will pick up the lovely Flavia we acquired from board member Alex V. We have 90 day temporary German plates that will hopefully be waiting for us on arrival and after a night in Athens we will hit the road for almost three months of touring.

The quick version of our planed trip is:

Athens to Patras - Ferry to Bari - Bari to Milan - Milan to Como (in time to see Alex again at Villa d'Este) - Como to Venice - Venice to Vienna - Vienna to St. Moritz - St. Moritz to Basel - Basel to Berlin - Berlin to Cannes - Cannes to London - London to Glasgow - Glasgow back to London - London to Brussels - Brussels to Berlin - Berlin to Prague and then through Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro and Albania back to Athens. Obviously there will be many planned and unplanned stops along this route and might make radical changes but you get the basics!

I'm probably insane but we actually have to be in many of these places for work this Summer, I had already arranged to get the car from Alex as our new daily driver, so why not make the adventure of it.

If anyone is along this route, has driven any of this route, wants to chime in on long distance touring tips, knows Lancia folks or experienced mechanics long the way in case we get in trouble or need a part from somewhere, please feel free to comment.

I will try to keep you updated from the road.
 

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Sounds awesome. Best of luck, looking forward to updates.
 

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Your trip plans sound great!

I don't know the exact timing of the first part of your trip (Patras to Bari and Bari to Milano) but, if you plan to stay at least one night in Puglia, I really suggest you to overnight in my hometown Trani, smaller (and prettier) than Bari: you'll find it on your route to Milano.

If you told it to me before we could have met there.
However, in case, let me know as I can give you some suggestions about where to stay, eat and what to see.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks everyone!

Francesco, we will drive up the coast so for sure we will stop in Trani. What car is your father working on at the moment? Too bad you will not be there, but I hope I will see you in Milan! Will you come to Villa d'Este?

Just bought a new GPS system with European maps today. Not sure if we will make it to Turin on this trip. That Lancia building looks sad doesn't it?

What essential gear/parts do you all suggest I have in the car?

Seth
 

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Hi Seth,

about Trani, I'll send you some suggestions via email.
Unfortunately I'll be there for the wedding of a friend of mine, but only on the 13th of June: we will meet a Villa d'Este for sure.

Don't forget to bring with you (in the car) a reflecting jacket (you can buy it in every gas station) and, if you have a problem with the car, you can call ACI (for the tow truck) at this number: 800.116.800 this is the number dedicated to foreign travellers. I hope you don't need it but, just in case....

No work on cars in this moment. My father has bought a Fiat 1600S Osca coupè to restore, but work hasn't started yet.
 

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This will be epic.

I'd program the number for Omicron into speed-dial.
I'd expect any of Alex's cars to be well sorted. And I'd expect any sorted Flavia PF Coupé to be reliable enough to easily handle the task. The Flavia flat-4 isn't the most aurally-exciting engine--it's about smooth, seamless torque rather than screaming revs--but that means it's understressed and reliable. And Pininfarina put the Coupés together very well. So it's always a good idea to plan for trouble, but I like the odds in this case.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I am certain that I bought the right car from the right person!
 

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There is a very fine Lancia mechanic, quite familiar with all the older cars, near Como. Gilberto Clerici. Also, Cavalitto in Turin will have all the parts you need, and a visit there is highly recommended.
 

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Wow, great trip!! I will look out for the car in Cernobbio. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Tried to post this this morning but the internet went out just before I could, I'm working on today's update now!

Greetings from the ferry between Patras and Bari!

Yesterday was the first day on the road after a few days of sun in Athens (well Glyfada the home town of our good friend Alex V which is just south of Athens along the water).

My wife Elisa, baby Mosi and I arrived in Athens last Saturday to find Alex waiting for us at the Airport. Unfortunately the only car he could find that would accommodate all of us was his wife's Mini. I was hoping he would show up in one of the Abarth cars, but I think he was smart and realized there would be no room for three adults, a baby and lots of luggage. Even the Mini was quite tight! We had been traveling for many hours so he dropped us at the hotel to freshen up before going out in search of food (another constant adventure as my wife and I are both vegan which leads to some challenges every now and then). We found a decent Italian place that was able to accommodate us and then later on I met Alex, his lovely wife and some friends at a fancy beach restaurant that turned into a night club. I love the fact that dinner in Greece starts as late as midnight!

The original plan had been to depart first thing on Sunday, but we arrived knowing we would be delayed a few days as we awaited the delivery of our temporary German export plates. The process of applying for and receiving our 90 day plates took a bit longer than expected, but I have to give a lot of thanks to Eugene at export-plates.com and recommend the service highly. They were about half the cost of the quote I got for the same service from the Italian company VIP (who also get German plates as that seems to be the only country that will issue temporary plates and insurance that don't require residency) and Eugene worked very hard to figure out the process of registering a Greek historical vehicle in Germany (not an easy feet). If anyone has any questions about this process I would be happy to give advice, but would really send you straight to Eugene.

After joining Alex and company for the end of their meals and some drinks I was fortunate enough to get a 2am tour of the garage we have all seen pictures of below the Alex V compound. Those of you who have seen it in person know that the pictures can't compare to the actual experience. Alex is such a humble and dedicated collector. He has some of the best cars that I have ever seen, but he drives every one of them and he has no desire to have more cars than he can enjoy. I could have spent all night going over the lovely cars he has in his collection, but I was probably most excited to see my new machines (aside from the Flavia, at the end of the Summer I will be bringing home the 1967 Fiat Moretti Sportiva that Alex did a fantastic job restoring). I can't say enough about how easy it is to do business with Alex, he is the best on every level.

Sunday was spent having a very long and enjoyable lunch with Alex and his wife and then my team was dropped off at the Athina Art Fair so we could do a little work before heading into Athens for dinner.

Monday was a Holiday in Germany so we knew we were in Athens until at least Wednesday at this point. It also happened to be the 8 year anniversary of meeting my wifge, so my wife, baby and I spent the day enjoying ourselves with a little shopping, trip to the beach (where we took our three month old into the sea for his very first time!) and then a very fine dinner at Matsuhisa which is located in an amazing resort complex about 30 minutes south of Athens.

On Tuesday I had to work quite a bit, but we still managed to return to the beach for a few hours before heading to the Acropolis in the evening for a little tourist time (I highly recommend going there towards the end of the day as it is cooler and the light is just amazing) and then dinner in the old town of Plaka. My wife was in Athens a few years ago and was amazed to find since her last visit it has become much more vegetarian friendly. We never had any problems finding great food and Tuesday night we ate at "Avocado" an all vegetarian place that is currently the #3 restaurant in all of Athens according to reviews on Tripadvisor.com (not just of vegetarian food but all food!). It has a very casual atmosphere but we were not disappointed by the delicious food.

Yesterday we spent the morning working and organizing our gear for the road trip. The plates arrived as scheduled from Germany at 11:30 am (thanks you again Eugene!) and Alex had them on the Flavia and was parked outside the hotel by Noon. By 12:30 we were on the road to Patras.

The first drive was spectacular. The Flavia is driving wonderfully and the roads from Athens to Patras were a great treat. There was no traffic and mostly views of the sea the whole way. We spent some time cruising on the highway, but the roads were also full of nice twists and turns that helped me settle into the car. I was actually sad it only took us three hours to get to the ferry as I wanted to drive all day! Compared to my Fulvia, the Flavia is a very very different machine. I love the Fulvia experience, but the Flavia has a real GT feel to it that makes it such a better vehicle for the trip we are going on. It just eats up the road and likes to cruise. The fuel injection performs wonderfully and with three of us in it and three months worth of luggage, the Flavia still feel spacious.

We loaded the car onto the ferry around 5:30pm and the boat was on the way right at 6. As we went outside to take pictures of the departure we were surprised by the most amazing display of aerial acrobatics and synchronized flying I have ever seen. A team of nine jet fighter planes twisted, turned and came so close to each other, the boat and the water that we were blown away. Is anyone familiar with this group of Greek planes? I need to find out more about them.

It was a rough night on the sea so we are running a bit behind schedule but we arrive in Bari shortly and must make it to Como by tomorrow afternoon. It will be fun to return the Flavia to Italy for a few weeks!

I'll post pictures soon.

seth
 

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Nice update. Glad to hear about the Moretti too, some time ago when Alex indicated he would be selling, I seriously thought about it but unfortunately for me the time was not right.
Interesting about the Greek aerobatic team, what with the financial crisis and all. The U.S. has grounded the Blue Angels ( the best I have seen ) due to budget cuts.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
After a very bumpy stormy night in the "Superfast" brand ferry/cruise ship last night I woke up very early this morning and prepared my earlier post in the café. The weather set us back a bit and the boat finally landed in Bari about 11:30 am Italian time making it an 18 hour 30 min trip instead of the scheduled 15:30.

When we made it down to the car (you are not allowed into the car area while the ship is at sea) we discovered he was coated with a thick layer of sea salt. Not nice for the car at all, but one of the crew was kind enough to hose it down top to bottom. Some of the parking is 100% enclosed and I'm not sure why we didn't get one of those spots. If I ever do this trip again I would insist on it. Alas the car cleaned up well and we were on our way.

We covered a bit over 600 km today cruising from Bari to Trani (birth place of Alfabb regular Francesco S) and then to San Marino where we have settled in for the night at an average speed of 130km/hr. I think I hit 160 or so a few times and we had a bit of traffic that made us run slower, but for the most part it was a solid fast paced drive on the highway.

After leaving Bari we hit Trani at lunch time and headed for a restaurant in the old port area that Francesco recommended, but upon arrival we discovered that I forgot to remind him of our vegan nature and the owner had to turn us away as the joint is pretty much all fish all the time. We found a pizza and pasta place next door that could accommodate us and had a lovely meal anyways. Trani has a beautiful little port area that is really what I would call a Marina. We had yet to see any other classic cars on the road but we saw two 60's era Fiat 500s cruising around town, one while we drove in and one on the way out.

An hour later we were back on the highway but after another hour we were running low on fuel so I stopped to tank up and here is where we had our first little difficulty.

After refueling we drove away from the gas station and almost instantly could smell something burning. The temp gauge shot all the way to 100 (it had been holding steady at 70-80ish pretty much the whole trip so far) and we pulled to the side of the road to figure out what was going on. Oddly, the radiator was not very hot and I was able to open the cap with my bare hand almost instantly only to discover that there was very little fluid inside (it was full when I checked it in Athens the day before). I dint' have any coolant with me so I was forced to empty my drinking water bottle into the radiator and then started her up again. She ran hot for a minute or two, but then settled back down to 80 and held there pretty much for the next few hours.

We needed to stop somewhere around Ancona when the baby woke up hungry so we stopped at a gas station so I could give a good check of all the fluids etc.

This time round the radiator was quite hot, but I let it cool down, opened it up and again it was looking like it had lost a lot of fluid so I purchased a quart of coolant and toped it up (it took 3/4 of the quart to fill it). We were only at half tank of fuel, but I decided we should get gas again as well so we filled her up. Alex had left us with some leaded fuel additive since leaded fuel is hard to come by these days and we added a bit as we had been doing at all the other refills. And then we took off again.

Almost instantly the temp gauge shot up to 100 and the car produced some horrible smoke from the exhaust. After the last experience and kow the readiator had just been filled with coolant I decided to push it another few minutes and the smoke quickly went away and the temp settled back down to 80 for most of the rest of the trip.

I would love to get suggestions for what might be going on here. I can't seem to connect temperature with refueling with smoke from the exhaust but there does seem to be some connection. Alex says the car never ran hot for him, but I don't think he drove her 600 km at top speed very often either. Anyone have any ideas?

Aside from these two periods of overheating directly after running the car hard, stopping briefly to refuel, then taking off again, the car seems to be running very very well. I do think it's running hot (70-80 instead of the 60-70 my Fulvia tends to run), but it's the sudden overheating after refueling that I want to get control of asap.

We were looking for a half way point between Bari and Como to stop in tonight, but chose to push on a bit further and off the highway into the hills to check out San Marino. San Marino is its own independent country, land locked in the center of Italy! Mostly I think we wanted to increase our country count for the trip, but it was well worth the push and the detour. I had heard of it, but didn't really know much about the place and the drive up here and the view on arrival are both extraordinary.

Tomorrow in the AM I am supposed to meet the owner of the hotel to go see a friend of his that knows about Lancias and see if we can sort the overheating, but otherwise it's off to Como as soon as possible.

Who else will be there?

Seth
 

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I think that refilling has nothing to do with the rising temperature but during driving the temperature sending unit will be cooled better because it is probably situated in front of the engine. When you are stopping for refilling the heat spreads through the cooling system by hot air. When the smoke is white you are burning coolant and I don't wish it for you but it looks like you have a blown head gasket.
First check the compression of the cylinders and if one of them has no compression it is the gasket, otherwise put pressure on the cooling system to discover the leak in the radiator or tubes.
If you were in the neighborhood I could organize something for you.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Greetings from Como!

Yesterday we woke in beautiful San Marino with such an extraordinary view. It was such a random choice to go there for the night, but we couldn't have ben happier with our experience.

After breakfast I checked on the Flavia and again the radiator was about half empty. I had asked about local mechanics, but no one was very helpful so I filled it with water and we packed up and wandered down the windy streets to the Maranello Rossa Abarth and Ferrari Museum which just happens to be in San Marino!

I had hoped to find a mechanic there, but they were also not very helpful. We had very little time so we only visited the Abarth portion of the collection. The funny thing is that in Athens we were able to use our press cards to get free access to the Acropolis, but they made us pay at the Maranello Collection! Still, what an amazing group of cars. I hear from very good sources that both collections are for sale, but you have to buy all the Abarth cars or all the Ferraris. Just a bit out of my league!

Back on the road again we drove straight to Modena. The car drove fine the whole way but it was a much cooler day, so I figured that was helping us out. In Modena we had lunch, topped up the water (not much had gone) and drove on all the way to Cernobbio! On the road we only passed one other vintage car, a very nice Appia convertible and we passed an MGA on a Trailer. They are just so rare no matter where in the world you are. Somewhere onside of Milan we hit the first 1000km of our trip. Only about 9000 more to go!

We got stuck in traffic at the end of the highway toll booth and again the engine began to overheat very quickly. We stopped in Cernobbio, filled up the water and made it to Villa d'Este, but it was too late to pick up our credentials (we have press credentials for the weekend).

Then we called Gilberto Clerici! It was after 6pm, but someone answered the phone. They spoke no English, but since we were there we drove the 30 mins out of Como to his shop.

On arrival I knew instantly that we were in the right place. The Abarth museum was nice but there is nothing like a true auto shop where they specialize in old Italian cars. It really is better than any museum. Gilberto clearly has a specialty, the Lancia Aurelia. He had about 10 of them in all stages of repair and restoration. So beautiful every one of them, even the rusty ones!

There were three people in the shop, Gilberto, a younger mechanic and a parts supplier. None of them spoke English, but it didn't matter, I asked if they spoke Lancia Flavia and of course they did!

While I showed my baby boy around the shop (he is almost four months and the cars make him really happy already) the guys assessed the Flavia with me answering questions and giving comments using Google Translator. There was a small hole in the upper right radiator tube caused by the insulating material of the hood curling down and touching it while very hot but this was likely a symptom not the cause of our problems. They also decided the thermostat was stuck so they removed it completely (on my Fulvia we drilled holes in the thermostat to make it flow better in the summer, I guess it's a common weak point in these systems). Interestingly just an hour before Alex V suggested it might be a stuck thermostat.

In 30 minutes we were back on the road driving so much cooler than before. I recommend Gilberto highly! Thanks so much Geoffrey for the recommendation, when you posted it I had hopped I wouldn't need it but it was so good to have! I will drive around Como for the weekend and see if she holds. Right now it's time to head to Villa d'Este!

Next up is Venice and then Vienna, anyone have any Lancia connections in that direction please let me know.

Seth
 

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It is good to hear it is fixed. Have a nice trip!
Frans
 

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Seth, thoroughly enjoy reading your travel log. Glad to hear that your overheating issues have been resolved. You are a very brave and adventurous person for undertaking such challenging trip with a baby in tow. Kudos to your wife and you.

I understand you may have your hands and your mind full at the moment, but I think I speak for all us here if I say that we would enjoy to see some pics. Your car, the inside of the repair shop, etc.

Thanks again for the great write.
 

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Seth,

probably it depends from the fact that we are so spoiled from our modern cars and electronics etc. etc., but the trip that you're enjoying has something of heroic, especially thinking at your wife and your baby.

I'm sorry we don't met yesterday but I neither believe that Villa d'Este was opened to the public on saturday, so I will go there now.

Enjoy the rest of your trip, I think we are all waiting for a bunch of photos!
 
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