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 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 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.

I can’t judge the seats as they come from another car (a Punto) but the originals will be re-instated pending re-upholstering. There’s plenty of room up front and a nice clear view out, courtesy of the slim pillars. As with other cars of the period, you hear more engine noise. I can´t say it’s disagreeable. Doubtless the engineers would have liked less – as it is and in contrast to today’s overly insulated cars, one can appreciate the acoustic feedback. It is not loud, but there at a volume you can tune out if you wish. 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”

Ashtrays: 1982 Alfa Romeo Giulietta 1.8

Recently I had a chance to be a passenger in an Alfa Romeo Giulietta 1.8 and took the chance to see how they solved the ash problem.

1982 Alfa Romeo Giulietta 1.8 ashtray open
1982 Alfa Romeo Giulietta 1.8 ashtray open

The ashtray is the sliding lid type, rather cleverly flush with the surrounding surface. That’s done by having the adjacent panel meeting the console exactly where the ashtray slides forward. There’s a small flange to allow the user to push the lid forward to open it. It’s probably not the world´s biggest ashtray but then again it’s a compact car, comparable in dimensions to a BMW 3 (E21 1975-1983) of the same period. It would be a bit much to Continue reading “Ashtrays: 1982 Alfa Romeo Giulietta 1.8”

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”

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”

Economies of Scale

These usually mean big numbers. In Volvo’s case that means only 20,000 annual sales for the S90.

2017 Volvo S90: caranddriver.com
2017 Volvo S90: caranddriver.com

Automotive News mentioned this figure yesterday. There are another 40,000 units annually for the V90. Still, that’s quite modest really. The reviews so far have been good and my static inspection revealed a pleasingly high quality product. Is a figure of 60,000 enough for a firm without multiple brands to

Continue reading “Economies of Scale”

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”

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.

Micropost: The Italian Car Park

Here is an Italian car-park: Naples Airport.

image

My casual analysis of the Italian fleet leads me to conclude Fiat, GM, Toyota and VW dominate the low to middle market and thereafter it’s Audi and Mercedes. The losers are Renault and Citroen at one end, Ford in the middle and Lexus and BMW at the top. Subaru, Mazda, Honda and Mitsubishi have no strong presence. Alfa aren’t even all that common. Continue reading “Micropost: The Italian Car Park”

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”

2006 is Ten Years Old This Year!

The past they say is a foreign country. I wouldn’t know about that, but a lot has happened in ten years. Hasn’t it?

1996 GM EV1. Itself a decade old in 2006. Image: oldcarbrochures
1996 GM EV1. Itself a decade old in 2006. Image: oldcarbrochures

It doesn’t seem all that long ago, but through mathematical deduction I can deduce that 2006 is in fact a decade old this year. To further the so much, yet so little has changed analogy, looking at geopolitical events of the year, the big issues at the time remain front page news now. The Middle East, North Korean’s nuclear ambitions, Oil prices, extreme weather events – although the International Astronomical Union’s planetary downgrade of Pluto could only realistically be described as a one-off. [Nevertheless, the astronomical entity itself was said to be absolutely gutted by the decision].

Earthbound, the automotive industry was enjoying a last fling before the meltdown of Autumn 2008, but events were unfolding nevertheless.  Continue reading “2006 is Ten Years Old This Year!”

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”

Theme: Values – Italy

As anyone has read a few books on Italian history will know, it’s a great bunch of countries. Only foreigners lump it all together as one nation.

Maserati Biturbo (1985 model, US spec.)
Maserati Biturbo (1985 model, US spec.)

That gives us a bit of a head start in understanding how Italy’s values translate into the broad array of markedly different car companies being stifled under one management.

As recently as the 1950s you could still find people in the deep south of Italy who didn’t know what Italy was. While outsiders consider Italy to have been unified, many Italians still see the event as a take-over of the south by the conservative north. As much as the United States is characterised by sharp contrasts and deep differences so too is Italy. Continue reading “Theme: Values – Italy”

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”

What a month it has been!!

…as they like to say in the world of automotive print journalism.

Nissan Autech Zagato
Nissan Autech Zagato: wikipedia.org

We covered a lot of ground in our theme of the month, Japan, and the response from our clique of readers has been heartening.  Most of what I read this month from our readers and contributors was new to me, as was the material I waded through when researching my own items.

Dealing with the Japan theme first, Sean Patrick and others handled the origins of Japan´s post-war development. The general theme is that Japan watched closely what Europe did but its selection of references showed its special set of values and interests. We dealt with notable examples of Japanese concept car design, production design. and the state of the product ranges. Under the production cars, the kei car phenomenon came under scrutiny from several angles such as this and this along with a few apparently randomly chosen examples of neglected classics and unloved daily drivers. If I have learned anything it´s that Europe and America have looked to Continue reading “What a month it has been!!”

Gamma: Signs and Portents – Part Nine

The Gamma had sufficient 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 touched on how Lancia’s in-house 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 four-cylinder engines, but unlike the Gamma was also available with a wide range of engine, trim levels and bodies.  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”

Whatever happened to…Enrico Fumia

We asked that question a while back. Quite by chance I found this concept car done by or under the superivision of Signor Fumia.

2006 Lancia J: source
2006 Lancia J: source

The idea revolves around symmmetry. From such excercises one learns how much one takes for granted in the form language of a conventional design. Continue reading “Whatever happened to…Enrico Fumia”

Fossil Traces: 2003 Lancia Fulvietta Concept

We’re not huge fans of retro styling here at driventowrite, but every once in a while, a concept’s essential rightness overcomes our reservations. Here’s one they should have made. 

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 vaguely 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”

Sommer´s Automobile Museum, Part 2

In Part 1 I made it as far as the Lancia Flaminia and not much further. In this instalment I will kick and jostle myself so I can cover more ground in fewer words.

1956 Lancia Appia
1956 Lancia Appia

This is the 1965 Lancia Appia with its impressive door closures and very lovely form. And if we  Continue reading “Sommer´s Automobile Museum, Part 2”

Sommer´s Automobile Museum Part 1

Recently I promised to write more about my visit to the Sommer´s Automobile Museum in Nærum, outside Copenhagen. Today I´ll introduce the museum and the first car that drew my fascinated gaze.

Ole Sommer´s Car Museum, Næerum, Denmark
Ole Sommer´s Automobile Museum, Nærum, Denmark

You can read more about the museum´s history here.  My brief overview is that the collection dates back to the 50s but was gathered together under one roof in 1980. Since then it has moved to a dedicated building near Ole Sommer´s former dealership. The Sommer collection is made up of a mix of Swedish, Italian and British cars, reflecting Sommer´s commercial activities as well as personal interests. The Italian section includes Lancias, Maseratis and Alfa Romeos. Continue reading “Sommer´s Automobile Museum Part 1”

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? 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.

This is the third car where the visual problem lies in the difference between what you see and what is actually there. What did the designers see? Did they see something that looked something more like the revised car? And did their objectivity suffer from having to banish the saloon from their minds?

All of this leads me to meditate on the apparent dearth of real design failures. Most of the cars that have had a rough ride are essentially alright. There are very, very few that display the egregious wrongness of the Rodius and the Aztek. The Kappa is at the extreme end of tolerably awkward. It´s not so bad that I wouldn´t mind one (I also like the Trevi) and perhaps after a while I might not see the car as it is but as it was intended to be. Love is blind, you know and affection has short sight.

The image is from here.

Ashtrays: 1958 Lancia Appia, Series 3

The Appia’s ashtray is sited to suit the lady passenger while still being in reach of the driver’s right hand. Was the location a subtle invitation to flirtation?

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 front-wheel drive Appia has a monococque body, a one litre V4 engine and independent 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. Was this Pininfarina’s tacit admission of failure?

Image via ourclassiccars
Image via ourclassiccars

Over the course of our ongoing examination into the Lancia 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 via 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. Coincidentally, all three cars could trace their stylistic basis to a single influential Pininfarina design concept. With the market disposed towards innovation, the Gamma should have been well placed to pick up sales, but didn’t. Road tests lauded the car, the public found it striking to look at, and it had one of the most respected names in the business. Yet the Gamma not only didn’t fly, it crashed noisily to earth. Continue reading “Gamma: Signs and Portents – Part Five”

Theme: Romance – Lancia

Curbsideclassic provided the inspiration for this short post. The article provides a nice run-down on these wonderful cars.

1967-1969 Lancia Flavia:curbsideclassic.com
1967-1969 Lancia Flavia:curbsideclassic.com

When I think of romance and cars I tend to think of certain marques: Lancia, Alfa Romeo, Rover (to some extent), and perhaps some Ferraris. And that´s really it. Is it perhaps not uncoincidental that these brands are not in the best of health or, these days, not very romantic in their expression?  There might be an underlying factor operating here. Whatever the engineers might have felt, these vehicles turned out as machines with a more passionate character than is normal. You can argue that Rover is anything but romantic, as romantic as a tweed jacket. I´d say there is a British version, a sentimentality if you like (and I don´t mean that in a negative way) that allows me to make parallels with the way Romance was expressed in the Italian vehicles. You could call it a form of idealism. I´m tempted to think of a Venn diagram here, with three circles overlapping. Some Lancias, Alfas and Rovers were far from romantic and were rather ordinary or aggressive. Enough of them are not, which is why I feel justified in presenting Lancia (among the three) as a Romantic car and this one, it simply commands one to think of a summerime time drive, a picnic and a quiet time in the countryside.

Gamma: Signs and Portents – Part Four

In this month’s installment, we examine the Gamma’s technical specification and its initial press reception.

Image via lancianet
Image via 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 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 via 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 of Lancia’s Gamma is etched in automotive folklore, but how well do we really know it? In this series, we delve into the Gamma’s 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.  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 via 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 at the time as being lamentably short-termist in scope. Continue reading “That Ain’t No Way to Say Goodbye”

Benchmarks: Lancia Flaminia Super Sport

Benchmark or swansong? A short film from the very pinnacle of the automotive ziggurat

Just beautiful - Image via tuningpp
Lancia’s finest hour? – Image via tuningpp

If we collectively believe the current Ypsilon represents Lancia’s nadir – (although I would beg to differ) – I think we can agree this car represents the marque’s apogee.

Continue reading “Benchmarks: Lancia Flaminia Super Sport”

Last Gasp – Lancia Ypsilon “Elle”

Ah well. From Lancia Aurelia, Florida and Gamma to Trevi, Lybra and the rebadged Chryslers and on to this, the Elle edition Ypsilon. Bravo, FCA.

Ah well. From Lancia Aurelia, Florida and Gamma to Trevi, Lybra and the rebadged Chryslers and on to this, the Elle edition Ypsilon. Bravo, FCA.

2015 Lancia Ypsilon Elle. Image from Autoblog.com
2015 Lancia Ypsilon Elle. Image from Autoblog.com

Lancia describes the Elle as follows: “The ultimate expression of Lancia elegance, and proof of the brand’s continuous pursuit of innovative, contemporary new shapes, the new Ypsilon ELLE proposes exquisite paint colors, materials, fabrics and trims that reflect the model’s passion for fashion.”  Continue reading “Last Gasp – Lancia Ypsilon “Elle””

BMW´s front wheel drive hatchback

Just a few days ago I noted that we at DTW had not treated BMW to some of our ire. Here is some ire. Or something passing itself off as such.

2015 BMW hatchback
2015 BMW hatchback

The car above is the 2015 BMW 2-series “active tourer” which is a five-door, front-drive hatchback with a great deal in common with the 2011Ford C-Max which is five-door, front-drive five seater hatchback (below) that sells for a lot less. And looks better.

2011 Ford hatchback. With a sliding door.
2011 Ford hatchback. With a sliding door.

While admitting that Chris Bangle´s 5-series was, after all, a very good design which still looks fresh, much of the subsequent output from Munich has been Continue reading “BMW´s front wheel drive hatchback”

Theme: Concepts – Lancia´s 2003 Granturismo Stilnovo

One of the last Lancias had a five year gestation from concept car to production. In this case there were two concepts, a real one and a pre-production model. One of them was not helpful.

2003 Lancia Granturismo Stilnovo
2003 Lancia Granturismo Stilnovo

Lancia showed  2003 Lancia Granturismo Stilnovo  Barcelona motor show as a genuine kite-flying concept car, one of quite a few they showed around this time. Three years later these ideas were translated into the production ready 2006 Lancia Delta HPE concept revealed at the Venice International Film Festival which then took a remarkable 2 years to get to an official launch by which time the styling had staled somewhat.  You have to look at the 2006 and 2008 cars side by side to notice any difference so we can conclude the 2006 car is Continue reading “Theme: Concepts – Lancia´s 2003 Granturismo Stilnovo”

Theme : Advertising – Rover´s rime eef.

It was the year 2000 and according to the predictions from 1970 we´d have been traveling on hover-speeders and wearing metallic-nylon bodysuits. Somehow that didn´t pan out. For Rover, it was still 1959 though.

(Thanks for stopping by. Nov 7, 2014. RH)

2000 Rover 45 2.0 V6
2000 Rover 45 2.0 V6

For your education and general knowledge, today´s item on advertising is an example of exploiting the customer’s worst instincts and distracting them from the selling point. This was done not only by the form of the ad as conceived, but simply by ensuring the message was concealed by the centre fold of the magazine. Rime eef, it reads.

In the ad – admittedly it´s technically well done – a Rover 45 is placed on a polystyrene tray, wrapped in cellophane and labelled 100% Prime Beef. There´s a Union Flag to make the point – this is British and not, for example, German. The advert dates from May. Rover was still owned by BMW, just. The sell off was in train at the time of press.

The Rover 45 had been relaunched at the start of the year and the new versions were styled to draw on the Rover cues of Englishness, tradition, chrome and leather.  The pity here is that Continue reading “Theme : Advertising – Rover´s rime eef.”