In the previous two instalments we have looked at the car’s general background and the driving experience. In this instalment I’d like to gather together some of my reflections.
Firstly, the way I view the Trevi now versus how it seemed to me twenty-seven years ago is markedly different. In 1990 I was studying geology which necessarily includes a bit of evolutionary history. At that time I had regular car conversations with one of the other students on the course. The way I described the Trevi then was to refer to it as a hopeful monster.
That’s not to be understood pejoratively though I did think the Trevi looked peculiar, somehow reminiscent of a stream iron and very unlike my evolving conception of what was normal in car design. The term referred to the way nature produced a wide variety of organisms, some of which would thrive and diversify. The metaphor ascribed an optimism to natural selection which perhaps Darwinian evolutionists would not endorse.
Nonetheless, if we see the car industry as the ongoing attempt to find which designs are the fittest in an ever-changing market, then the Trevi was an attempt by Lancia to refresh the Beta for the ’80s, to keep it competitive and find new customers.
More than a quarter of a century later I see the design in a clearer light. What was strange I find original and appealing. I notice also how much of the shape is very right, particularly the proportions. The detailing is counter-intuitive and the better for it. At a deeper level, the very idea of Lancia seems even more intriguing and alluring.
In 1990 that meant nothing to me when I saw the cars parked up here and there in Dublin. Having driven the car I now get at first hand Lancia’s special formula of comfort and performance – and the performance is not overbearing. I remain convinced there is room for this subtle blend of qualities.