Lancia don’t live here any more…
I stood in the north west corner of Palexpo’s Hall 5 which has been the traditional home of Lancia for many years, and my fears were confirmed. Turin’s second most successful carmaker had left the building – hold on, wasn’t that Alvis? Did I walk through the empty house, tears in my eyes? Not really.
In Lancia’s place was a rather jolly Abarth garage, with three 124 Spiders and a 695 Biposto. Everything’s a stage set, a subterfuge, even the Japanese-built cars, but I was willing to suspend disbelief, and enjoy the show. After all, most of Abarth’s work was modifying other makers’ cars, this time it’s at two degrees of separation.
I could have enjoyed building that stand and decorating the cars. The rally livery sets them off nicely. There’s mild disappointment that these four tailpipes connect to nothing more exciting than a 1.4 MultiAir with 12 bhp more than the Fiat version of the Spider. 170bhp is pretty good from the most highly-developed iteration of the 31 year old, one-litre FIRE engine. Carlo Abarth would have been impressed, as that was very much his sort of thing, but he’d also have tried even harder.