Almost every manufacturer has a special badge or brand for the race-specialised model. Mercedes’ AMG, BMW’s M as well as Alfa Romeo’s Quadrifoglio Verde. However only few badges have the heritage and such a successfull history like Lancia’s HF also known as “Elefantino”.
But what does HF means and why did Lancia choose an elephant as masquotte?
The first time HF badge appeared on a Lancia was in 1963 on a Fulvia of the HF Squadra Corsa. HF for the racing team meant High Fidelity.
Indeed they wanted their car to be the most possible HiFi, just like an high end stereo where, instead of music, the car was meant to reproduce all the sensations of the road to the driver, with no filters or distorsions. Moreover High Fidelity is meant to be linked also the the incredible reliability that the vehicle would prove in the following years, both during rallies and on everydays roads.
Once an elephant starts running, nobody can stop it
In addiction to the name the racing team looked for an animal as a symbol of their dynamics, just like the prancing horse for Ferrari and the bull for Lamborghini. In the and they choose an elephant but why?
There are different legends about it:
Some say that Lancia choose an elephant as symbol of strength, longevity, prosperity and victory; however the most common (and believed) story is that while the team was discussing the symbol Gianni Lancia (the son of the founder of Lancia) proposed the elephant. The legend tells that the engineers opposed that idea because “the elephant is not fast or agile at all”, but Gianni Lancia retorted “yeah, but once an elephant starts running, nobody can stop it”. So the HF badge was born.
Later on, in 1965, the badge arrived also on the road version of the Fulvia. In particular it was a stripped down version of the standard coupè, lighter, with stronger suspensions and lower center of gravity. There were two version, the one with a blue elephant was for the normal racing inspired vehicles, while the red one was for the most extreme Lancias.
So yeah, in the end, one of the most glorious racing team was named after a stereo and compared to an elephant, but still that badge represent one of the maximum achievements of automotive industry.