Friday 9th August 2013


SHED OF THE WEEK: LANCIA DEDRA

This week's Shed is a true rarity but there could be a good reason for that


Shed is under some pressure at the moment. He has to buy Mrs Shed a replacement for the BMW that she apparently thought was hers, and that he accidentally sold when she wasn't looking.

Non-standard wheels aren't so great...
Non-standard wheels aren't so great...
As you would expect, in the matter of choosing a used car for his dearly beloved, Shed sets the highest possible standards. Nothing must stand in the way of Mrs Shed's annual trip to Barnsley, when she brings her mother back down to Shed Towers for her annual six-week stay, most of that time spent pressing out a giant potato-shaped indentation in Shed's telly-watching seat. You can see why, for Shed, only a car boasting unimpeachable build quality and unrelenting reliability will do when it comes to Mrs Shed's personal transportation.

A car like this 23-year-old Lancia Dedra.

Stereotypical joking aside, Shed rather likes the clean lines of this 90s Italo-exec. Over 400,000 Dedras were built between 1989 and 2000. The fact that only 40 or so Dedras remain on UK roads either a) tells you all you need to know about the quality of Dedra construction or b) gets you all excited about Dedra rarity. It all depends on how cynical you are. The fact that this one is still happily humming away is obviously testament to some degree of mollycoddling, but also (Shed likes to think) to its relatively robust nature.

...here's what it should look like
...here's what it should look like
Take it from Shed that back in the 90s, mass-market Italian cars were the don. The Fiat Tipo in particular was a brilliant car, 1989 Car of the Year in fact, and one much sought after by aspirant Euro-suburbanites. As per the assigned role of Lancia, the Dedra was put out as the 'elegant' version of the Fiat Tipo, on whose floorpan it was built.

Where are all the Tipos now? See that can of tuna you're just opening? Might be some Tipo in there.

Laugh it up about Italian cars in the latter part of the 20th century, but once you've mentally swept away all the minor irritations like body panels made out of biscuit tins and electrics that only work on alternate Fridays, you have to admit that this was something of a golden age for mainstream Italian engine building.

Other than that it's a clean-looking Shed
Other than that it's a clean-looking Shed
The Fiat twin-cammer in this Dedra i.e. is a case in point. Designed by well-known whirly-bits boffin Aurelio Lampredi, it saw service in Fiat family cars for 34 years, which for longevity of service makes it the Latin equivalent of the Rover V8. It liked a rev and was tough too. This car has had a new unit installed, which again is either good or bad depending on your outlook.

The vendor's desciption of the zingy twin-cammer as 'quite nippy' is a refreshing bit of understatement compared with some of the overblown phrases used to glorify tragic old nails at this end of the market. The other day Shed saw an ad for an old-style Mini describing it as 'very rust-free', which presumably meant there was only rust in one place - the body. This Dedra looks surprisingly un-motheaten inside and out. Not sure about the chavvy wheels, or the HF badge on the grille; that should only be worn by the turbo HF Integrale.

This was the luxury Tipo offshoot remember
This was the luxury Tipo offshoot remember
20-odd years down the line - it seems longer than that, somehow - it would be foolish to expect an incident-free life in a Dedra. Rattly doors, lumpy running when cold, fritzy ventilation systems, blinky ABS sensors, leaky fuel hoses: Dedra problems can include any or all of these, over and above any normal age-related ones that could strike anywhere and anytime. Spares are getting hard to come by, but there is a Thema Dedra Consortium whose laudable motto is 'keeping Lancia Thema and Dedra on the road'. They have 'Spanner Away Days' during which members gather in respectful silence to dismantle dead cars in order to keep others alive. Shed likes this idea. He knows a few spanners he'd like to send on an away decade.

Finally, some Dedra trivia. In Gaelic, Dedra is a girl's name. Meaning 'broken-hearted or sorrowful', it is a variant of Deirdre. Which, funnily enough, is Mrs Shed's first name.

Here's the ad. Ignore it, if you're a young 'un. Or if you're not, read it and hark back to a time when Italian cars ruled the roost.

Here's the ad.

I'm selling my Lancia Dedra 2.0ie 1990, newport blue met. Lots of history including every MOT from 1993. The car covered 54k in the first 3 years then had a replacement engine, The car is now showing nearly 41k. The MOTs and history verify mileage. The Dedra is in very good condition. Recently the car it has been serviced, belts have been changed, middle and rear exhaust, starter motor and all the offside has been sprayed only due to peeling lacquer. The N/Side rear wheel arch has some bubbles and there is wear on the drivers seat. The car drives as it should, the two litre twin cam engine is quite nippy, and looks lovely. All original except for the 17" alloys. Also included are 2 A4 lever arch work shop manuals,owners handbook tow hitch and 1 key

All in all a cheap retro classic, taxed and tested, only cost me 85. to insure on a classic policy!

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