Finira was founded in 1902 by Jorga Di Finira, a bicycle factory owner who became convinced of the potential of the automobile. He sold around 60 of his first car, a 14HP four-seater which was available with both a petrol engine and electric batteries. This was followed by a 'mini' model which also sold well for the period.
By the mid-1930s the company had the largest share of the market for a Karolian manufacturer and its cars were regarded as being at the top of the mid-range for luxury and quality. A large Finira cost the equivalent of a years' salary for the average worker and the most luxurious models were the preserve of the super-rich. However, the company continued to supply the mid-market with both small and large models.
When the Karolian motorway network was built in the 1960s Finira again saw an opportunity to capitalise on the new national interest in long-distance car travel and produced the Finira 42L saloon, which used a powerful but quiet V6 engine as its main selling point, along with an modern aerodynamic body shape, a spacious interior and extra soundproofing to make the car optimised for cruising. So successful was the engine that it found its way into dozens of models for the following 15 years, from tractors to competition cars.
In 1966 the company launched perhaps its best-loved and most iconic car, the 14L, which remained in production with only minor revisions until 1988. After this time the car was still available until 1996 as a FAAR model with a slightly more modern engine. The car was basic but solid and featured a novel construction - the chassis bore the entire structural weight, which meant the bodywork could be any shape or even removed entirely. The only passenger model was sold as a 4-door hatch, but customisers soon realised that its construction meant the car could be turned into a van, a pick-up truck, a flatbed, a beach buggy and a tractor as well as tuned up for racing. The interior featured a dash-mounted gear stick which maximised the passenger space at the front, all the seats were removable, and the boot lid was the entire height of the car, meaning large loads could be transported. Finira offered various accessories to increase the luggage capability, including a rear extension board with extra lights and securing straps, and streamlined roofracks. The rally version with 1.8l and 1.6 turbo engines did well in competitions during the 1970s. Over 20 million were sold and today the car is becoming increasingly collectible.
Finira continued to play an important role in its market segment throughout the 1970s and 1980. Notable models include the C180, which was a testbed for (at the time) advanced technologies such as crash protection and fuel injection, and the 1985 launch of the Pohjola, which was one of the first modern hatchbacks and featured suspension and transmission systems normally only found on larger cars. Such innovations sometimes came at the cost of reduced reliability, but the reasonable price, lively performance and modern styling kept sales strong. The company also bought the Ardespherican manufacturer Faardes, placing it as a budget brand in the domestic market and targeting emerging markets in other parts of the world.
The Pohjola's technology made it ideal for conversion to a 'hot hatch' to compete in this sector in the 1980s. The car had a turbocharged 1.6 unit and was a great hit thanks to its performance and being several thousand USD cheaper than its competitors. Today an original Pohjola GTi in good condition will often fetch more in equivalent money than a new one.
The mid-nineties saw the company contract somewhat. A new regime which had sought to target emerging foreign markets had produced more costly than anticipated and the marque's quality was perceived as having fallen by domestic customers. Only one entirely new model, the Suuris MPV, was launched between 1997-2000 and speculation about a takeover spread.
In 2002 the company revived sales with the new Megna hatch, which featured distinctive and somewhat controversial styling compared to its competitors which drove sales. The car was the basis for the design language of several new models in the succeeding years, including a new Pohjola and the company's first proper sports car for a decade, the Aulia. New and more efficient engines also began to appear in the 2000s, as part of a long-term environmental commitment. In 2006 the company launched the Pohjola Hy2D (HYbrid Diesel Drivetrain), its first hybrid, which used a diesel engine to work a dynamo to provide power, as well as featuring regenerative braking and other energy-efficient technologies. The car was based on the standard Pohjola hatchback body to minimise development costs. Sales were moderately successful and led to the launch of the Megna saloon hybrid and a pure-electric version of the (updated) Pohjola, the Pohjola E2.
Finira has been involved in racing since its inception. Di Finira drove a car himself in the 1910 Karolijas Rally, coming third, and at least one team has been entered for every Premier Formula championship since 1988. In the modern Premier Formula era, Finira cars have been driven by six world champions and brought in nine constructor's championship trophies. Finira has also competed in rally sport with similar success. The special versions of the 14L and the 56L were both very successful models in their classes in the hands of top rally drivers.
Finira has been one of the three manufacturers of the Liga Balonésa de Carreras de Automóviles de Serie (LBCAS) since 1987. The LBCAS is one of the two major racing leagues in Balonis. Finira has won 12 Manufacturers' Championships, the last one being in 2014.
A department devoted to designing racing and high-performance road cars was established in 1972. Initially it was solely concerned with building Premier Formula machines and converting standard road cars to rally spec, but the 'hot hatch' era of the 1980s saw the launch of first the Pohjola GTi and then the 348 GTi. The works have continued to tune up the mid-size hatches and saloons to the present day. The 2006 Megna T255 was awarded 'Car of the Year' by Wheels magazine and described as 'the most brilliant car I have ever driven' by a leading motoring journalist.
Finira maintain a motor museum at their headquarters in Liivu, which contains around 100 cars from the earliest days to prototypes and exotic concepts. There is also a test track offering 'thrill experiences' in the sports models.
|Megna GT||Medium hatch/estate||
|FiniraSport Pohjola T140 and T180||Hot hatch||
|FiniraSport Megna T180 and T260||Hot hatch||
Finira are the current shirt sponsors of Säntjana Linna FC, a deal which will last until 2017. The 2014-25 home shirt advertised the Megna model.