Carlo Francesco "Francis" Lombardi was born in Genoa (Italy) on January 21st, 1897.

In the First World War he became an ace for the Italian Airforce with 8 victories. He received three silver medals on different occasions. One was for a reconnaissance patrol which led him 100 km behind the frontier.

In 1938 he started an aircraft factory called AVIA (Azionari Vercellese Industrie Aeronautiche) and designed and build the L3. The L3 was a twin seat light training/touring aircraft used for both the civilian as the military training schools.

After the Second World War the AVIA company first produced the Meteor. After that they concentrated on building cars, a "carrozzeria". They began by building wooden estate-like bodies (using his previous experience of aircraft construction with that same material) fitted to Fiat 1100 chassis.

They continued building estate bodies to be fitted to various Fiats (1400, 1800, 2300), including sometimes stretching the wheelbase. A four-door saloon based on the 600, the 'Lucciola' followed, a successful style carried on to cars based on the 850 and 127. They also designed and built some coupes, usually on Fiat bases, including the 1400, 1900, 1300 and 1500, but also on Alfa Romeo (1900) and Lancia base.

In the late 1960's the Grand Prix was built and various 500, 126 and 128 based cars. In the early seventies he designed a car with his initials "FL 1", but it wasn't very succesful. The firm closed in 1976.

In 1976 he received a golden medal for his contribution for the Italian aviation in general.

He died in Vercelli on March 5th, 1983.


A biography is written by G. Evangelisti. It is called "Una vita in gioco" with subtitle "Francis Lombardi pilota, sportman e costruttore".


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