A Photo for Sunday: Jam and Marmalade

Reader Shant F. kindly sent this photo which summed up some of the week’s subjects.

1993 Fiat Punto and 1995 Lancia Y in Milan

This week we discussed the Fiat Punto, quondam class-leader among superminis. The Lancia Kappa came up for more scrutiny (I have to test drive one). Driven to Write also applied its bifocals to rear bumpers – these cars have those. Continue reading “A Photo for Sunday: Jam and Marmalade”

Concrete, Damsons, Obsidian: These You Shall Only Half-Recall

Yet again we return to the  Lancia Kappa. The excuse this time is that I managed to nab some photos of the interior.

1994-2000 Lancia Kappa interior (I  like the wood effect)

Not a very few of these still rattle around Denmark, not many either. Up the road from me a chap has a Kappa estate, would you believe. Let’s take a close look at the car…
Continue reading “Concrete, Damsons, Obsidian: These You Shall Only Half-Recall”

Bad Photos For Sunday

As ever, the only place in Jutland with interesting cars for sale is EZ Biler, near Silkeborg.

2003-2011 Lancia Ypsilon

The same old friends are there: the unsold Lybra, Kappa and XM Prestige. I notice they also have a 1984 Nissan Laurel for sale. Alas, I was with my brood and they did not want to Continue reading “Bad Photos For Sunday”

The Pinnacle – 1957 Lancia Flaminia

Sixty this year, Lancia’s zenith gets the DTW spotlight.

Image: autowp-ru via wheelsage
Image: autowp-ru via wheelsage

Pushed to choose one marque defining model I wouldn’t hesitate; after all, there are Lancias, and there is the Flaminia. Others might disagree and that is fine. We all have our icons, and if you believe the sliding pillar era was technically or aesthetically superior I wouldn’t necessarily argue. It’s a personal choice. Continue reading “The Pinnacle – 1957 Lancia Flaminia”

Theme: Brochures – 1975 Lancia Beta HPE

In contrast to the recent rather insipid Beta brochure, I can present a thoroughly aspirational 1975 Lancia HPE brochure such as this.

Use as directed: 1975 Lancia HPE.
Use as directed: 1975 Lancia HPE. Richard-Ginori is still in business.

It shows how the product is intended to be used and the kinds of people who might be attracted to it. Shooting, diving, sitting down, gardening, conversing outside a hotel late at night: Lancia did not want for ideas to show how this rather fabulous vehicle could be used. What the brochure made you want to do was to Continue reading “Theme: Brochures – 1975 Lancia Beta HPE”

Theme: Brochures – Beta than expected but not as good as hoped

The 1973 Beta Coupé was slightly underwhelming – and to be honest, its sales literature was as well.

All images: Driven to Write
Well proportioned, neatly styled yet somehow lacking. The Beta Coupe. All images: Driven to Write

A year after the berlina’s launch, Lancia announced the first of four sporting Beta derivations, the 2+2 Coupé. Designed in-house in conjunction with Pietro Castagnero, the man responsible for the much-loved Fulvia amongst other pre-Fiat Lancia designs. This is an early sales brochure and it is notable for a number of reasons – some of a pedantic nature, others of a more whimsical stripe.  Continue reading “Theme: Brochures – Beta than expected but not as good as hoped”

Trevi Musings

Recently we’ve been drinking deeply from the Trevi fountain, which has prompted a further bout of rumination upon Lancia’s idiosyncratic saloon.

Image: Ran When Parked
Image: Ran When Parked

The Trevi is an unusual car, not only in itself – although, you’ll have to admit, it’s an intriguing one to behold. For one thing it’s the only car I can recall that began life as a fastback saloon – (with a separate boot compartment) and ended it as a three volume saloon. Yes, there has been saloon from hatchback conversions and vice-versa, but a saloon from a saloon? Continue reading “Trevi Musings”

Three Volumes in Three Parts: 3

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.

1981 Lancia Trevi 1600: source
1981 Lancia Trevi 1600: source

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 Continue reading “Three Volumes in Three Parts: 3”

Three Volumes in Three Parts: 2

In the first part I discussed the static qualities of the Lancia Trevi. In this part I will present my driving impressions.

1981 Lancia Trevi
1981 Lancia Trevi

Finally, it’s time to drive in the car. First off, we set off along some minor country roads, ones I have just driven in a modern car. Initially I am the passenger and from that position I realise that I can see nothing of the instruments from the passenger side. They are set in Bellini’s cylindrical recesses which are angled to the driver. This makes me look elsewhere – out, for example. Continue reading “Three Volumes in Three Parts: 2”

Three Volumes in Three Parts: 1

Don’t meet your heroes, they say. It’s bound to lead to disappointment. After stalking the Lancia Trevi for 26 years I finally got to drive one. So, you ask, how did that work out?

1981 Lancia Trevi 2000
1981 Lancia Trevi 2000

Very well indeed, thanks: I got to satisfy my curiosity and did so without my hopes being dashed. Much like my short trip to Italy in June, this experience has got me thinking. And re-thinking.

Before getting to the drive, let us Continue reading “Three Volumes in Three Parts: 1”

Small Wonder : 2

Could we have imagined the 1985 launch of the Y10 would mark the beginning of Lancia’s final act.

Lancia Y10 Fire. Image: autowp-ru_
Autobianchi Y10 Fire. Image: autowp-ru_

History does make for strange bedfellows. In 1969 Fiat handed control of Autobianchi to Lancia’s beleaguered management, entwining both marques. More than a physical union, their relative destinies would also become one – or at the very least, follow eerily similar pathways. History, as I’m fond of pointing out, has a way of repeating. Continue reading “Small Wonder : 2”

Small Wonder

In 1989 the little Lancia Y10 looked like the runt of Lancia’s litter. What was it doing in the range?

1989 Lancia Y10 GTie: source
1989 Lancia Y10 GTie: source

At that time Lancia dealers stocked the ordinary Delta, the Delta HF, the Prisma 1600, the Thema and Thema Ferrari 8.32. Did any European manufacturer have such an inconsistent or heterogeneous range? Isuzu had a coupé and an SUV – (Piazza and Trooper), while Subaru had the tiny Justy, midsized 1800 4wd estate and the XT. Perhaps only Volvo’s odd mix of the 340, 480, 240 and 740/760 gets close in terms of antiquity/novelty and visual difference. No, the prize for incoherence must be Lancia’s. Continue reading “Small Wonder”

Cars That Could have Been Citroëns – 1980 Ital Design Medusa

What you say isn’t always necessarily what you mean.

Ital Design Medusa. Image: autoviva
Ital Design Medusa. Image: autoviva

As Europe’s leading car design consultancy, Ital Design has always been in the business of ideas, and while they could to some extent predict the future in styling terms, they couldn’t necessarily convince the industry to follow their lead, which saw many promising styling studies on the cutting room floor. But in the industry’s defence, the price of failure has always been high.
Continue reading “Cars That Could have Been Citroëns – 1980 Ital Design Medusa”

Going to Extremes – 1986 Lancia Thema 8.32

Successful motor companies are consistent motor companies. Did Fiat miss a meeting?

Image: Aboutcars.bg
Image: Aboutcars.bg

Looking at those who’ve made a success of the motor business, they stand out for (amongst other things) an unswerving consistency. This isn’t however a trait one could ascribe to the mighty Fiat group over the past four decades, lurching as they have from crisis to recovery like a cadre of drunken sailors on shore leave. Continue reading “Going to Extremes – 1986 Lancia Thema 8.32”

Lancia Finally Comes Out On Top

Certain writers on this site spend a lot of time bemoaning the sad lot of Lancia, so it is remiss of the DTW News Desk in being so tardy in announcing the awarding of a major prize to a Lancia.

lancia-ypsilon-betterparts-org

Admittedly it is 80 years too late, but the Pinin Farina (two words back then) bodied Astura that was awarded the Best Of Show at Pebble Beach in August looks a deserving winner, even if it is hard to see it as a conceptual ancestor of the Ypsilon. Continue reading “Lancia Finally Comes Out On Top”

Theme – Film: The Mystery of Inspector Morse’s Car

OK, so this relates to a TV series translated from a collection of detective books, but I’m hoping readers will allow me a little latitude.

morse-jag
If that were my car, I would not be happy with even John Thaw placing his foot on the number plate.

For a moment there, this opening was like a game of charades for the ‘visually impaired’ …

I think most people know that (Chief) Inspector Morse was originally the owner and driver of a Lancia, not a Jaguar Mk2 (or was that really a Daimler?). Having read most of the books by Colin Dexter many years ago on the back of viewing a few of the TV episodes (pre-kids, one had time to waste like that), a few thoughts were stimulated by the changes wrought by the TV production company in its adaptations from the books. Continue reading “Theme – Film: The Mystery of Inspector Morse’s Car”

A photoseries for Sunday: 2002-2009 Lancia Thesis

When the Thesis debuted, Lancia was at pains to present it as a sophisticated choice.

All images: The author
All images: The author

The PR offensive included a presence at a symphony music festival in St Moritz, and a range of accessories produced by Zegna and Longines amongst others. Fourteen years on, this example stands as a stark reminder that depreciation is no respecter of brand strategies or PR bumf. Continue reading “A photoseries for Sunday: 2002-2009 Lancia Thesis”

Something Rotten in Denmark: 1996 Lancia Kappa

This is how a decent car ends its days.

Not Lancia Kappa style.
Not Lancia Kappa style.

Whoever last owned this car really should have gone for a Vectra or Mondeo. The original alloys probably corroded and needed to be replaced with something sympathetic. You can put jokey wheels on an old Mondeo as they are blank canvas. These wheels are a custom paint job, I think. One does not customise a Lancia. Perhaps the last owner considered the disjunction of motorsport style colours and the Kappa’s formality amusing, like wearing runners with a suit. Continue reading “Something Rotten in Denmark: 1996 Lancia Kappa”

Gamma Bytes: Fated Symbol

In this final Gamma instalment, we examine alternate realities and the model’s shifting media perceptions.

Image: .zonderpump
Image: .zonderpump

It’s forty years since the Gamma was presented to the World’s press at Geneva and a lot has been heaped upon its shoulders in the interim. While undeniably a sales and reputational disaster, to view the Lancia flagship as simply a bad car is narrow and simplistic. To close this series, we ask whether Fiat could have chosen a different path. Continue reading “Gamma Bytes: Fated Symbol”

A Photoseries for Sunday: 1986-1994 Lancia Thema SW

It’s been ages since I crossed one of these: Pininfarina’s version of the Lancia Thema.

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Pininfarina assembled the SW in the Borgo San Paolo factory (which is not Fiat’s Mirafiori plant, an important difference). Unique among the T4 cars, it came as an estate though it doesn’t look all that unlike how the Fiat Croma might have done had it been offered in the same format. Continue reading “A Photoseries for Sunday: 1986-1994 Lancia Thema SW”

Gamma Bytes: When Gamma went Mega

Of all the concepts based upon Lancia’s unfortunate ’70s flagship, this was the most significant. Enter the Megagamma.

1978 Megagamma. Image: Italdesign
1978 Megagamma. Image: Italdesign

In 1978, the motoring world gathered at the Turin motor show to gawp at the new metal and absorb the latest trends from the cream of Italy’s styling studios. Particularly those of Ital Design, already Italy’s most important automotive carrozzeria. However the reaction to this 1978 offering was initially one of bemusement, bordering on derision. Neither estate, van nor saloon – what on earth was Giugiaro thinking? Continue reading “Gamma Bytes: When Gamma went Mega”

1971 Lancia Flavia 2000 Pininfarina Coupe

The Lancia Flavia coupe appeared in 1961 and stayed on sale with a name change until 1975. This is the first time I have ever seen one. Ever.

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Lancia kept its models in production for a long time in the period before Fiat bought them. As I am not au fait with the intricacies of the Flavia’s history, I can only show these and ask some questions. The Flavia name retired in 1971 according to the commonly accepted history of the car. The name change to 2000 signified a face-lift and a new, bigger engine, going from 1.8 to 2.0 litres. According to Wikipedia the revised “2000” received the 2.0 engine in 1971. This body work is the Series 2 version. So, why does it say Continue reading “1971 Lancia Flavia 2000 Pininfarina Coupe”

Micropost: 1994-2000 Lancia Kappa SW

Given Lancia made only 9028 examples of the Kappa SW, I see them often enough.

1994-2000 Lancia 1994 Kappa SW, Guben, Germany.
1994-2000 Lancia Kappa SW, Guben, Germany.

Pininfarina did the design and construction and I expect charged Lancia more for this than Lancia made selling them. That makes them good value now.

You’d want an SW if a Kappa saloon appeared too common, if a BMW 5 too mainstream, an XM too complex and a Scorpio too ugly and an Omega too banal.

Gamma: Signs and Portents – Part Twelve

Ultimately then, how does one encapsulate the Lancia Gamma?

Image: schlichtmeier
Image: schlichtmeier

When Fiat handed Sergio Camuffo Lancia’s flatlining cadaver and told him to administer emergency CPR, he did the best he could, but there was only so much that could be achieved. Because despite Fiat management allowing him sufficient autonomy during the immediate post-takeover period to produce cars that were (on the face of things at least) respectful of Lancia’s traditions, the Italian car giant’s locked-in prejudice against the upmarket led to a fatal ambivalence. This schizophrenic attitude to their new acquisition most likely informed the compromises that damned both the Beta family and later, the Gamma itself. Continue reading “Gamma: Signs and Portents – Part Twelve”

Lancia Lives

In a way, so to speak. If you lived in Italy you could be forgiven for thinking Lancia were still popular.

Lancia Musa in Naples
Lancia Musa in Naples

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. Continue reading “Lancia Lives”

Gamma: Signs and Portents – Part Eleven

The option of an automatic transmission did little to mitigate the Gamma’s reputation as a disaster on wheels. If anything, it appears to have added to it.

Image: Autobild.de
Image: Autobild.de

One option missing from the Gamma’s specification at launch was an automatic transmission, not a fatal handicap in the domestic market where manuals proliferated, but rather more so in the UK, where a sizeable proportion of luxury saloons were specified as self-shifters. But in fact, Lancia had foreseen this necessity and in conjunction with UK supplier Automotive Products, engineered a four-speed automatic transmission specifically for the model. Continue reading “Gamma: Signs and Portents – Part Eleven”

Ashtrays: 2002 Lancia Lybra

At long last DTW has finally had a close look at the ashtray of a Lancia Lybra.

2002 Lancia Lybra centre console.
2002 Lancia Lybra centre console.

Before turning to that, I can report that the rest of the car is wholly agreeable, even if the upholstery is in dull, north European grey. It is velour and that helps. The rear ashtray is in the centre console and is of the pull-out, rear-hinged type. It looked adequate. The rear seats offer a comfortable place to spend time. If we compare it to a Ford Focus or VW Golf it is definitely more pleasant. I particularly liked the sculpting of the seats which are  invitingly formed and much more pleasing than the other two cars. The Focus 1’s seats stood out as a weak spot.  Continue reading “Ashtrays: 2002 Lancia Lybra”

Micropost: Lancia Advertising From the US

Lancia did not have much of a presence in the US. It’s zenith: 1975 to 1983. This advert comes from about the middle of their last “proper” push to sell new vehicles.

1977 Lancia advert
1977 Lancia adver

The choice of used Lancias in the US is not great. For $8950 you can have a Lancia Fulvia bodyshell. No doors, no interior. Just the shell, wheels and motor. If you want a bit more car then $15,000 is what you shall pony up for a 1965 Lancia Flavia coupe. It’s missing the top part of the dashboard, only. If you look around you’ll also find one of the three Lancia Scorpions used in Herbie Goes Bananas. That’s up for auction. Continue reading “Micropost: Lancia Advertising From the US”

Gamma: Signs and Portents – Part Ten

Rumours of a turbocharged version of the Lancia flagship proved to be more than hot air, but the Gamma Turbo failed to enter production. Well, not quite…

Image:drive-my
Image:drive-my

Even following the car’s announcement, it appears that debate over the wisdom of employing the Tipo 830 boxer engine continued to rage; especially once the powerplant’s frailty in service became apparent. This schism was alluded to by Car magazine’s Italian correspondent, Giancarlo Perini in June 1979, writing; “At Lancia they are developing a new 6-cylinder engine that could be fitted into the Gamma. But a big struggle is going on between the directors who supported the flat-four project (who will not recognise they were wrong) and the other directors who support a change to a six cylinder engine.” It’s likely Perini was getting his timelines muddled, since Fiat were by then firmly in retrenchment mode and would never countenance such expense having already invested in the existing powerplant. Nevertheless, it does suggest a measure of hand-wringing was taking place over the Gamma’s fortunes in Turin. Continue reading “Gamma: Signs and Portents – Part Ten”

Gamma: Signs and Portents – Part Nine

The Gamma had the requisite appeal to compete against its European upper-medium executive rivals in most key areas – apart from one. 

The Gamma received a mild visual facelift and considerable technical revision in 1980. Image:leroux.andre
The Gamma really could have used a few additional millimetres aft of the B-pillar. This is a Series 2 model. Image:leroux.andre

Previously, we looked at how Lancia’s in-house sibling Beta nibbled away at the Gamma’s market, but how did it compare to its intended rivals, each well established upper-middle class contenders? The European upper-middle class market was populated by just about every major manufacturer, but Citroën, Peugeot and Rover offered the closest competition to Lancia’s big saloon. Similar in its left-field appeal, Citroën’s CX was also front-wheel drive and powered by large-capacity four-cylinder engines, but unlike the Gamma was also available with a wider range of engine, trim levels and body styles.  Continue reading “Gamma: Signs and Portents – Part Nine”

Gamma: Signs and Portents – Part Eight

The Gamma’s most formidable rival may surprise you, but should it really have surprised Lancia’s lords and masters?

Image: autorevue.cz
Image: autorevue.cz

When Lancia’s half dead remains turned up on Fiat’s doorstep in 1969, the product drawers may well have been empty, but there was a clear and logical model hierarchy in place. So it’s peculiar that Sergio Camuffo saw fit to disrupt this well defined model stratification with the first of his new-era Lancia’s – 1972’s Beta Berlina. Continue reading “Gamma: Signs and Portents – Part Eight”

Geneva 2016 Posted Missing – Lancia

Obituaries are probably premature, but has Lancia’s traditional Geneva presence been bulldozed in the Giulia frenzy?

Lancia IAA Photo autovia-media
2016 Lancia Ypsilon at Geneva

Lancia was not on the Geneva exhibitors list, but I fully expected a few Ypsilons to show their fresh new face on a small, but rather stylish, stand in some enclave of Sergio’s Palexpo empire. It happened at Frankfurt, but not in Geneva – the traditional Lancia space was occupied by Abarth instead, with a rather jolly display of 124 Spiders and a 695 Biposto. Continue reading “Geneva 2016 Posted Missing – Lancia”

Fossil Traces: 2003 Lancia Fulvietta Concept

We’re not huge fans of retro styling here at Driven to Write, but every once in a while, a concept’s essential rightness overcomes our reservations.

Image: mad4wheels
Image: mad4wheels

Over four decades it has been possible to gain a shorthand on the health and vigour of Fiat’s finances by how much (if any) development resources were drip-fed towards their impoverished Lancia division. At the beginning of the new millennium, despite being heavily indebted and messily extracting itself from the failed tie-up with General Motors, Fiat seemed primed to make another attempt at re-establishing Lancia’s position in the market, now shorn of its sporting heritage and projecting an unabashed offer in the luxury arena. Continue reading “Fossil Traces: 2003 Lancia Fulvietta Concept”

Gamma: Signs and Portents – Part Seven

The Gamma Berlina’s appearance would divide opinion. In this part, we examine the concept that inspired it.

1967 Pininfarina Berlina Aerodynamica. Image: banovsky
1967 Pininfarina Berlina Aerodynamica. Image: banovsky

The styling of both Gamma variants was the responsibility of Pininfarina, a design house with a lengthy and distinguished association with the Lancia marque. While the Gamma coupé would reference themes from Lancia’s stylistic past, the scheme for the Berlina would prove a complete departure; echoing, particularly in the canopy area, the carrozzeria’s 1967 Berlina Aerodynamica, possibly the most influential saloon concept since their Lancia Florida series a decade earlier. Continue reading “Gamma: Signs and Portents – Part Seven”

Bereft in Deathly Bloom: Not Bloody Likely

As Lancia posts another respectable sales performance, where’s an automotive van Helsing when you need one?

 Image via southernwinesblog
Image via southernwinesblog

I don’t know about you people but I’ve had just about enough of Lancia. I’m worn out from the serial indignities foisted upon this proud marque, sick to the eyeteeth of Sergio Marchionne’s platitudes and inaction. I just want the pain to end. But for those of us who’d prefer to see Lancia’s drooling remains smothered with its own pillow, the past two years have offered little by way of consolation. Continue reading “Bereft in Deathly Bloom: Not Bloody Likely”

Gamma: Signs and Portents – Part Six

The Gamma’s engine became its Achilles heel, but what choice did Lancia have? In this part we look at some of the options available to them.

Image via roadsmile
Image via roadsmile

The central pivot of the Gamma’s failure is encapsulated in one area of its specification that should have been inviolate. Because the Gamma’s engine was a pure-bred power unit based on a design produced under the stewardship of the late Dr. Antonio Fessia. But why this configuration at all? As we know, Sergio Camuffo originally schemed Tipo 830 to replace the mid-range Flavia, making this engine a logical choice, if not one entirely in keeping with Fiat’s rationalisation plans. Continue reading “Gamma: Signs and Portents – Part Six”

The Aesthetics of Car Design

In another part of my working life I had reason to revisit the Lancia Kappa coupe and discuss its aesthetic failings. I may be the first person ever to get the car into a peer-reviewed article, which is something to be proud of.

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Using a stock image and my rough and non-evolving Paint skills, I thought I’d see what the Kappa coupe would have looked liked if it had conformed to the norms of vehicle proportions. In order to generate some interest I have not labelled which is the original. Continue reading “The Aesthetics of Car Design”

Ashtrays: 1958 Lancia Appia, Series 3

Normally DTW finds itself taking an ironic look at what passes for engineering and styling excellence: Lybras, saggy Renaults and small ad detritus. Today we look from our place in the sewer up at the stars. 

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And in so doing we look at a Lancia. Quite apart from the exquisite quality of the car, the engineering principles are pure pleasure to consider. The rear-wheel drive Appia has a monococque body, a one litre V4 engine and sliding pillar front suspension. All of this is there to help the driver to Continue reading “Ashtrays: 1958 Lancia Appia, Series 3”

Driven To Write’s Top Fifty Best Cars Ever: 5

1982-1986 Lancia Prisma. It needs no introduction.

1984 Lancia Prisma: not a Ritmo.
1984 Lancia Prisma: not a Delta.

The Prisma replaced Lancia’s much-loved Trevi. ItalDesign produced the crisp and timeless bodywork which improved upon the rather coarse and inertly proportioned Delta. Continue reading “Driven To Write’s Top Fifty Best Cars Ever: 5”

Gamma Bytes – Pininfarina’s Concepts

The Gamma Coupé evolved to become the model’s stylistic True North, but was this Pininfarina’s tacit admission of failure?

Image via ourclassiccars
Image via ourclassiccars

Over the course of our ongoing examination into the Gamma, I’ve focused primarily upon the Berlina, styled at Pininfarina by Aldo Brovorone, under the supervision of Leonardo Fioravanti. The origins of the saloon’s styling we will return to, but today I want to examine the version that captivated the pundits at the 1976 launch – the Pininfarina Coupé. Continue reading “Gamma Bytes – Pininfarina’s Concepts”

Gamma: Signs and Portents – Part Five

The Gamma’s fiery descent.

Image via lanciagamma.altervista
Image: lanciagamma.altervista

From a stylistic perspective at least, 1976 was a good time to introduce an unorthodox-looking luxury saloon, the market being temporarily disposed towards difference. Two years previously, Citroen had introduced the futuristic CX model and Rover were about to début the similarly forward-looking SD-1. Both cars offered a divergence from the classic three volume saloon template and for a time at least, buyers were prepared to accept this. Continue reading “Gamma: Signs and Portents – Part Five”

Gamma: Signs and Portents – Part Four

Examining the Gamma’s technical specification and its initial press reception.

Image via lancianet
Image: lancianet

Technically speaking, the Gamma was classic Lancia in that it mated an unconventional powerplant to a largely orthodox chassis layout. However, the big Lancia’s mix of conventional components came with an added dash of élan. The engine was a development of the proven Flavia unit, bored out to 2.5 litres. Sergio Camuffo outlined why he chose to enlarge the engine capacity saying, Continue reading “Gamma: Signs and Portents – Part Four”

Gamma: Signs and Portents – Part Three

If there was a single over-riding theme to the Gamma’s gestation, it can be summed up in one word. Politics.

An undisguised Gamma prototype. Image via lanciagamma.altervista1
A disguised Tipo 830 prototype. Image: lanciagamma.altervista1

As Fiat management began the process of ingesting their new acquisition, they found they were being thwarted by Lancia’s core of loyalist engineers. Like most grand marques, Lancia was engineering/manufacturing-led, so naturally all resistance to Fiat’s integration was centred here. Camuffo himself must have been viewed with suspicion, being seen as Agnelli’s man and schooled in what was probably viewed as an inferior tradition. Furthermore, Lancia’s workforce – (previously accustomed to viewing themselves as an elite) – found life as reluctant Fiat employees a somewhat downgraded reality.

Continue reading “Gamma: Signs and Portents – Part Three”

Gamma: Signs and Portents – Part Two

Fiat acquired the shattered remnants of Lancia in 1969. The Italian car giant was ill-prepared for what it discovered.

The 1969 Fiat 130 Berlina. Image via favcars
Corporate hubris? The slow-selling (if excellent) 1969 Fiat 130 Berlina. Image: favcars

Fiat made its name, reputation and not inconsiderable fortune from small cars, cost-engineered and rationalised to be inexpensive to produce, to buy and maintain. During Italy’s post-war industrial boom, the Turin car maker grew massively catering to the home market’s growing affluence and thirst for motorisation. By the late 1960’s however, Fiat’s management realised that over 70% of their car business was concentrated in the bottom end of the market – one with the least potential for profit. Continue reading “Gamma: Signs and Portents – Part Two”

A photo for Sunday: 1998 Lancia Lybra SW

Those were the days: Lybra (saloon and wagon), Z multipurpose vehicle, Kappa (coupe, saloon and wagon) and the Ypsilon. It’s 1998.

1998-2005 Lancia Lybra estate/wagon.
1998-2005 Lancia Lybra estate/wagon.

Lancia had a full line-up of vehicles, offering in most cases something distinctively different to what Fiat was selling. The Lybra had its basis in the Alfa 156 but you’d be hard pressed to tell. With the passage of time you can see a robust-looking car with a distinctive form language. Maybe it could have used some brightwork around the windows. Enrico Fumia started the development of the design in 1992 and Peter Robinson completed it. Where is he now? The rather pleasant interior is the work of Flavio Manzoni who is now at Ferrari, with a string of cars to his name. Some of them include the later Musa (not so good) and Ypsilon (treasurable). Continue reading “A photo for Sunday: 1998 Lancia Lybra SW”

Gamma: Signs and Portents – Part One

The story is etched in automotive folklore, but how well do we really know the Lancia Gamma ? In this series, we attempt to unravel its difficult birth and inglorious career.

The 1976 Lancia Gamma Berlina. Image via ourclassiccars.
The 1976 Lancia Gamma Berlina. Image via ourclassiccars.

Death by a thousand Fiats:

Fiat’s stewardship of Lancia has been shameful, so it’s difficult now to imagine the road to perdition being paved with good intentions. Because if nothing else, the Gamma stands as a prime example of how mergers and acquisitions never quite work out. Throughout its history as an independent manufacturer, Lancia produced exquisitely engineered automobiles that garnered respect and deep admiration, but consistently cost more than the company could afford. Continue reading “Gamma: Signs and Portents – Part One”

That Ain’t No Way to Say Goodbye

FCA cooks up another unicorn – this one’s Delta-shaped.

Not the new Delta Integrale. Image via zougla.gr
How the proposed new Delta Integrale won’t look. Image: zougla.gr

A short while ago, Autocar’s Hilton Holloway posited a future for the Lancia brand. His wasn’t the first or even the best – (that honour lies elsewhere) – in fact his suggestions struck me as being lamentably short-termist in scope. Basically, he proposed that FCA revive Lancia with a series of retro-inspired cars based upon past icons. A revived Stratos, spun off the Alfa 4C platform and a Delta Integrale, based on the Giulietta. Low volume, high margin products, aimed at enthusiasts with a view to re-establishing Lancia’s credentials with a marketplace that now only recognises the brand on the basis of their presence in online gaming. Continue reading “That Ain’t No Way to Say Goodbye”

Orange Car of the Day: Lancia Beta Coupe

While surveying the cars parked in the paddock at this weekend’s Classic Race Aarhus I noticed the broad range of colours. Red, yellow, light blue, green and orange were all there along with black and metallic grey plus various shades I could not more precisely determine.

1973-1984 Lancia Beta coupe.
1973-1984 Lancia Beta coupe.

This splendid orange Lancia Beta was not the only orange car but the only Lancia present. The interior featured a cosy light green velour and seating inspired by Italian furniture of the period. Only the cracked brown dashboard let things down a little. “The bodywork was developed in-house by a Lancia team led by Aldo Castagno, with Pietro Castagnero acting as styling consultant. Castagnero had also styled the Beta’s predecessor, the Lancia Fulvia saloon and coupé” says Wikipedia. Continue reading “Orange Car of the Day: Lancia Beta Coupe”

A small quiz

What Lancia shares parts with a Volkswagen?

1985 Saab 600
1985 Saab 600

You might know immediately. I for one had a little stab of fascination to discover there is a VW with which Lancia badges and trim could be swapped over with little effort. Any ideas?

Continue reading “A small quiz”