Italian carmakers are best known for their sports cars and city-friendly compacts, but they can make a mean four-door, too.
The little Appia represents everything great about Lancia: Excellent engineering and lovely design. It used a 48 horsepower, 1.1-liter V4 engine that had just enough muscle to power the extremely light car. Plus, suicide doors.
Leave it to Carlo Abarth to take a totally conventional car–the Fiat 1500, in this case–and turn it into something spectacular. Abarth took the Fiat's 1.5-liter inline-four and added two downdraft Weber carburetors and an aggressive camshaft to make a punchy little race car. Unfortunately, .
For a successor to the Appia featured earlier, Lancia created the Fulvia, a smart little sedan that was way ahead of its time. It ditched the Appia's rear-drive layout for a front-wheel-drive setup and used a new narrow-angle V4. Before you cry "more like wrong-wheel-drive!" know that the Fulvia Coupe was a force to be reckoned with on a dirt rally stage.
Its Spider platform-mate is better known, but the Alfa Romeo Giulietta Berlina deserves respect. The sedan doesn't have quite the sex appeal of other Alfas, but with the company's legendary twin-cam four under the hood, it's brilliant to drive. The Berlina was , helping Alfa navigate the rocky decade after World War II.
Many people don't realize that the Maserati Quattroporte (literally "four-door" in Italian) already appeared in the early 1960s. It was Maserati's first four-door and was with a 4.2-liter V8 before getting a 4.7-liter. The engine, which was derived from one of Maserati's race engines, is the star here.
The Fiat 124 isn't the most exciting car on this list, but it might be one of the most important. It was a huge sales success for Fiat while still being . The 124 also provided the basis for the Lada Riva, one of the most produced cars of all time.
Here's a rare one: the Iso Fidia, also known as the Rivolta S4. This Giugario-designed, Chevy V8-powered sedan was the fastest four-door in the world at the time. According to , only 192 were made and they cost more than a Rolls.
Sold as the Milano in the U.S., the Alfa Romeo 75 was the last rear-drive sedan Alfa built before the new Giulia. There are two especially great versions, the Turbo Evoluzione (pictured above) Group A homologation special, and the QV, which used Alfa's amazing 3.0-liter V6.
The Lancia Thema 8.32 is one of our favorite oddballs. For reasons that are unclear, Lancia thought it was a good idea to stuff a V8 derived from the one in the Ferrari 308 in its front-wheel-drive Thema sedan. Unlike the Ferrari motor, the Thema's V8 had a cross-plane crankshaft and was built by Ducati.
You could argue Alfa Romeo lost the plot when it switched to building front-wheel-drive cars, but then you look at the and that argument becomes difficult to make. Powered by a 247-horsepower version of Alfa's gorgeous 3.2-liter V6, the 156 GTA wasn't really a match for the contemporary M3, but it was special in its own right. Even in Alfa's dark days, the company knew how to produce a true Alfa Romeo.
The revived Maserati Quattroporte is a flawed car yet we still love it. The first models used a fantastic dry-sumped, Ferrari 430-derived V8, but it was paired with a terrible semiautomatic gearbox. The facelifted car (pictured above) got rid of the dry sump and added a much better ZF automatic gearbox. Despite a reputation for being notoriously unreliable, both versions are beautiful and sound glorious. In other words, it's a real Maserati.