In a way, so to speak. If you lived in Italy you could be forgiven for thinking Lancia were still popular.
Here, south of Naples, Lancias outnumber Fords. There are very few Fords and Renaults, not even small ones such as Twingos. The first thing I did when stepping out of the airport was to photograph a Lancia Musa “Fifth Avenue” which had button-pleated beige leather seating.
The Ypsilon is ubiquitous and Fiat would be mad to stop making them. They get people to pony up 20% extra for a Fiat Panda. Even the Delta II is common enough and always white. It has aged well too and is also a profitable way to sell what is probably (will check) a stretched Bravo. Lybra’s are represented by estates as in the rest of Europe. I take that to mean nobody much liked the saloon. I’ve seen only one here. That’s the one I like best.
The highlight yesterday came in the form of a dusty, black Thesis, parked outside a restaurant. Black suits it, hiding the bland sides and accenting the lamps and grille.
This brings to about 20 the number of times I have seen one. It’s the Fiat 130 of our times.
So, what is it about middle-market luxury that endears it to the home market but is poison when exported? Or why did Italy take to Rover and support Lancia when everyone else shunned them? And Sweden is unique in having a dominant brand that is pure middle market (and once had two). France doesn’t really have a corresponding brand at all; Buick is struggling in the US and soon will be a set of CUVs if the trend continues.