So much for theory, what was the Lybra actually like?
The heel of history can either be a marque’s greatest asset or an insufferable burden, and in the case of Lancia, we can safely deduce which of the two conditions has prevailed. Because amongst the time-honoured pitfalls of managing heritage brands is the inevitable temptation to revert to whatever nostrum of past glories management deem necessary or congruent.
Indeed, the moment a car brand is steered into the heritage category, alarm bells really ought to sound, since one could posit the view that it’s already well on its way to irrelevance and oblivion. Hence when Fiat Auto CEO, Roberto Testore pronounced in 1999 his view that Lancia’s image was confusing, he was tacitly admitting both his and his innumerable predecessor’s inability to either define Lancia’s identity or allow it to organically find one of its own.
The Lybra therefore was a product of an imbalanced state entirely of Fiat Auto’s making. But while DTW’s recent trio of essays covered the car’s conception and commercial fate, there is no substitute for a first-hand account, and thanks to former contributing editor, Richard Herriott, who has made it his business to drive as many latter-day Lancias as he could (legally) lay his hands upon, we are in a position to discern some of the Lybra’s more subjective qualities.
Richard’s impressions (from September 2017) can be found by clicking here. However for those amongst you for whom matters of ash receptacles are of more pressing consequence, we are pleased to exclusively facilitate your requirements here.