RE: A birthday wish for Lancia

RE: A birthday wish for Lancia

Wednesday 29th November 2017

A birthday wish for Lancia

With a sword hanging over the much-loved Italian marque, one more cunning plan to help Make Lancia Great Again



Today marks Lancia's Nelson, for it's exactly 111 years since the company was founded in Turin. Superstitious fans of the marque might be tempted to lift a leg à la cricket umpire David Shepherd though, because although Lancia is 111 not out, a dismissal could be imminent. Italy is the brand's sole market these days, and at almost seven years old, its only current model - the Ypsilon - is rapidly approaching its sell-by date. Lancia wasn't even mentioned in last year's Fiat Chrysler Automobiles business plan update, and a new five-year plan expected from boss Sergio Marchionne early in 2018 could spell its demise.


Still, roughly as many Ypsilons were sold in Italy last year as were Alfa Romeos across the whole of Europe, and in the year to date, Lancia's supermini pipped its FCA stablemate, the Fiat 500, to being Italy's second best-selling car. If not reason for celebration, then perhaps enough - beyond the usual sentimentality - to stave the axe off a little longer.

Supposing it does survive, what next? Scab-picking suggestions for new Lancias appear with regularity and are usually based on the rebirth of the Delta Integrale, while one enthusiast has even rendered up an entirely new range.

But there might be a simpler solution for a new, statement-making Lancia from within FCA, without spending the vast sums lavished on the development of Alfa Romeo's new-era poster boy, the 4C.


With Mazda's co-operation, Fiat re-entered the sports car market with the 124 Spider, which also sired a warmer Abarth version. But unlike its MX-5 cousin - which spawned the convertible hard-top RF - the only tin-lid variant produced by FCA is the Abarth 124 Rally racing car, and the company now says it has no plans to build a road-going version.

But remember that drop-dead gorgeous Lancia Fulvia Coupé Concept from 2003? The one that reimagined Piero Castagnero's rally-bred swoonmobile of the 1960s and 1970s. Well, it was almost identical in length and wheelbase to the current MX-5 (and only a Mars bar shorter than the 124 Spider). Coincidence? Well yes, actually, but you can see where this is leading.

Under the bonnet of a production version of Flavio Manzoni's 2003 concept could go the Alfa 4C's turbocharged 1,750cc four-pot, which has already been proven in this platform in the Abarth 124 Rally. That car makes 300hp, but the 4C's 240hp tune might suffice in the Fulvia. It could keep the manual gearbox and apparently generous suspension travel of the concept for hoovering up lumpy backroads (a talent of the Integrale, which prioritised compliance over roll control), and at least give a nod to the concept's plush, retro-inspired interior.


Of course, thanks to its platform, it would by default have rear-wheel drive rather than the original's front-wheel drive - quel domage! - and you'd struggle to package even the tiniest of rear seats, but that doesn't stop the Porsche 718 Cayman selling very nicely. Speaking of which, the Fulvia could cost from around £35,000: less than the 718 Cayman, 4C and upcoming Alpine A110, but more than the MX-5 RF.

I would probably buy one. I think some other people would, too. Whether we'd be numerous enough to form a blip on Marchionne's radar and help revitalise Vincenzo Lancia's legacy is another matter. Anyway, happy birthday, Lancia - I really hope it's not your last.

Inspired? Buy a used Lancia here

Richard J Webber

Author
Discussion

ELUSIVEJIM

Original Poster:

4,301 posts

85 months

Wednesday 29th November 2017
quotequote all
Such a sad state of affairs for such a massive brand from the past.

Lancia was the WRC for so many years. Iconic cars with iconic drivers.

I really wish they would release a new Lancia Delta with some moderns changes but try and keep the looks as close to the original.

A bit like the Ford Mustang or the GT40.

TooMany2cvs

28,664 posts

60 months

Wednesday 29th November 2017
quotequote all
Richard J Webber said:
But remember that drop-dead gorgeous Lancia Fulvia Coupé Concept from 2003? The one that reimagined Piero Castagnero's rally-bred swoonmobile of the 1960s and 1970s. Well, it was almost identical in length and wheelbase to the current MX-5 (and only a Mars bar shorter than the 124 Spider). Coincidence? Well yes, actually, but you can see where this is leading.
ELUSIVEJIM said:
I really wish they would release a new Lancia Delta with some moderns changes but try and keep the looks as close to the original.
Are there no new ideas? MUST we always simply do something that looks a bit like something nice from years ago?

If Fiat-Chrysler really can't produce something worthy of the Lancia badge - not quite as raw/sporty as an Alfa, but more luxurious; a junior Maserati - then might as well kill the badge. Better to be a lovingly remembered hero from the past than simply a bit of badge-engineering limping along.

cookie1600

973 posts

95 months

Wednesday 29th November 2017
quotequote all
Gawd not Lancia too!

That would mean my two current daily cars and the engine out of my toy (and in reality the manufacturer of the body) would be from defunct manufacturers. I must be some sort of Jonah....

Bring back something like the Integrale please.

rastapasta

373 posts

72 months

Wednesday 29th November 2017
quotequote all
Simca, Talbot, SAAB. wa wa wa. Lancia are dead . If they are to develop a new (for example) Delta Integrale, how many of us would actually buy it??? The people who reminisce about the 'glory days' of the WRC would not be the aimed demographic for such a car anymore as they are probably pushing 60 years old now. People move on and the 30-40 year old age group demographic would sooner have a Golf GTI or an M3 or a Focus on steriods!! why?? because Lancia means very little to people nowadays. Subaru have learned this with the last few itinerations of the Impreza STI. The people are not there anymore to buy these cars. It would take a massive marketing campaign and a shedload of money to put such a car on the buying publics radar. Maybe re entering rallying would work ala subaru and McCrae. But the cash isnt there. And wont be.

Marchionnes job is to please the shareholders and make FCA as profitable as possible. A new Lancia Delta wont do that for sure, the last one didnt. And an Integrale sure as hell wont. We need to get over Lancia.

They were fking rustbuckets anyway.

M666 EVO

1,052 posts

96 months

Wednesday 29th November 2017
quotequote all
Great article and a nice change from the usual boring German brands

I have a Delta but have always dreamed of owning an Evo. Unfortunately if Lancia are no more one day and if prices continue to rise then that dream alas will never become a reality.
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DiscoColin

3,328 posts

148 months

Wednesday 29th November 2017
quotequote all
rastapasta said:
They were fking rustbuckets anyway.
On the one hand - that is a tad harsh. On the other - actually, it's true. The only Lancia ever owned by anyone in my family was a Beta HPE that my mum once had. It basically disintegrated before our eyes, and I'd never pay money for anything with the badge unless someone was offering a ridiculously bargain priced Integrale or Stratos... paperbag

As for the ugly things that have worn the badge in recent years - I actually wish that they had let the brand die a long time ago back when it still meant something positive (even if prone to ultimately turning into a pile of oxide).

cookie1600

973 posts

95 months

Wednesday 29th November 2017
quotequote all
DiscoColin said:
The only Lancia ever owned by anyone in my family was a Beta HPE that my mum once had. It basically disintegrated before our eyes.
Yep. I bought a 1978 Beta HPE for the engine in my Mini and I didn't have to use any tools to get the turret tops and sub-frame away from the main bodyshell. The scary thing was I drove it a few miles to it's final resting place like that.

Mind you, I suspect many Italian makes were that bad and I remember in the late 60's my fathers company was getting 20 to 30 new Alfa Romeo Giulia's in a week for rust work and paint defects - they had come straight from the dockside.

andyps

7,762 posts

216 months

Wednesday 29th November 2017
quotequote all
If the VW group can make it work with Skoda, Seat, VW and Audi platform sharing with some reasonable distinction between brands surely FCA could make a success of Lancia if there was a will to do so. Trouble is it seems that Marchionne doesn't have that will so it is unlikely to happen. A brand range of Fiat, Alfa Romeo and Lancia (with Chrysler for the US market) wouldn't have to overlap in terms of target markets

A true Lancia should be forward looking (as they were before the Fiat takeover) so using it to put the group at the forefront of new technology would be ideal. Sure, things like a "new" Integrale would be fantastic but to build one of those there would have to be a regular Delta to base it on. I'd love to see something really new and innovative using the Lancia badge. As long as it looks as good as the more traditional Lancias did surely it could work.

Ninja59

1,829 posts

46 months

Wednesday 29th November 2017
quotequote all
I saw a Beta on the road about a month ago - I was amazed it was still okay looking.

My grandfather had one, it never rusted bizarrely and was fine and a great thing to drive.

Lancia's glory days are long gone let the brand die for godsake.

Still have much want though for one. Even if I know parts supply would be an absolute pig.

dapprman

700 posts

201 months

Wednesday 29th November 2017
quotequote all
Ypsilon (and the last Delta model) are available outside of Italy - but under the Chrysler brand with their repackaging. Drove the Musa variant in Italy a few years back - not exactly a memorable car.

TooMany2cvs

28,664 posts

60 months

Wednesday 29th November 2017
quotequote all
dapprman said:
Ypsilon (and the last Delta model) are available outside of Italy - but under the Chrysler brand...
'zackly. The Lancia brand is only sold in Italy.

HotPepperpots

13 posts

72 months

Wednesday 29th November 2017
quotequote all
Happy birthday Lancia!
That's a great Facebook page and
like the modern mock-up's which any of which are hugely unlikely to happen.
The Fulvia concept could have a chance based on mx5/124 platform, why not?
Any how as not a lot of love being shown thought it an excuse to post gratuitous pic of my wee grale!

rastapasta

373 posts

72 months

Wednesday 29th November 2017
quotequote all
andyps said:
If the VW group can make it work with Skoda, Seat, VW and Audi platform sharing with some reasonable distinction between brands surely FCA could make a success of Lancia if there was a will to do so. Trouble is it seems that Marchionne doesn't have that will so it is unlikely to happen. A brand range of Fiat, Alfa Romeo and Lancia (with Chrysler for the US market) wouldn't have to overlap in terms of target markets

A true Lancia should be forward looking (as they were before the Fiat takeover) so using it to put the group at the forefront of new technology would be ideal. Sure, things like a "new" Integrale would be fantastic but to build one of those there would have to be a regular Delta to base it on. I'd love to see something really new and innovative using the Lancia badge. As long as it looks as good as the more traditional Lancias did surely it could work.
This is all well and good in an 'ideal' world. In the context of the UK...: Lancia's biggest market in the 80's was the UK. The UK is probably still one of Fiats biggest markets now. Lancia pulled out because of the backlash they experienced from the controversy over substandard steel being used in the Beta and sales dwindled to a point where it wasnt worth their building RHD models anymore. So if they were to try and reintroduce the brand into the UK again after such a long time away then the product would need a massive marketing campaign to go with a seriously good product. Neither of which Fiat, in their current product line up, are capable of producing (subjectively speaking).

To paraphrase, no one outside enthusiasts and old folk know anything about Lancia and to rectify this would cost money and as I mention above FCA is interested in Shareholder satisfaction which comes with a profitable company. Marchionne will never green light something such as a new delta and/or a new delta integrale when theres no market for one. The people to buy these cars are simply not there. There are already enough brands in the market without adding another while trading on a long gone rally heritage. Chances are the thing people on the street who remember Lancia remember them more for the Rust and Esther Ranzen chasing them down.

Lancia as a brand is dead. And, aside from perhaps the Integrale, it was never that good anyway.

996TT02

2,706 posts

74 months

Wednesday 29th November 2017
quotequote all
Lancia has long been dead. Reskinned rebadged Fiats with weirder than weird styling and nothing else going for them, are just that.

Twoshoe

413 posts

118 months

Wednesday 29th November 2017
quotequote all
HotPepperpots said:
Happy birthday Lancia!
That's a great Facebook page and
like the modern mock-up's which any of which are hugely unlikely to happen.
The Fulvia concept could have a chance based on mx5/124 platform, why not?
Any how as not a lot of love being shown thought it an excuse to post gratuitous pic of my wee grale!
Ooh, looks like my old one - not H304NRF by any chance?

PaulG65

3 posts

11 months

Wednesday 29th November 2017
quotequote all
Firstly buon compleanno Lancia!

It makes me laugh how many people who know nothing about Lancia the marque, the history, the heritage, the innovations and the competition success have so much to say about it.

Yes when Fiat bought Lancia in '69 for 1 Lira (including all its debt) it made the fatal error of making its new cars out of cheap East European steel and the cars to an extent disintegrated - but it was the same for all Japanese products, French products, Italian products, British products and German products too. Fiat/Lancia realising their error stupidly recalled their 'luxury' brand to swap old for new and the 'Daily Mirror' & 'That's Life' went for their blood. From then on they never lived it down. I am sure that if Fiat had purchased Alfa Romeo at that time then they would have gone down the same route.

Having said that there are many more 70's Lancia Beta's knocking about than similar aged Audi 80 & 100's, Austin Allegro's & Princess, Citroen GS's, Colt Sigma's & Celeste's, Datsun Bluebirds/Laurels, Fiat 131/132's, Honda Civic & Accord's, Mazda 818's & Rx3/4's, Morris Marina's, Renault 15's & 17's, Toyota Corona's & Celica's, Vauxhall Magnum's & Firenza's, Volkswagen Mk1 Passat & Scirroco's.

Pre Fiat, Lancia was possibly the finest engineering marque around, the cars so well engineered that despite their high price (even more with 60's/70's import tax) they lost money on every car. Look at their History- The Lambda, Austura, Aprilia, Aurelia, Flamina & Fulvia- all these were benchmark cars, the first sliding pillar suspension, first disc brakes, first 5speed box, first GT car, the list is endless.

Under Fiat they lost their way, quality & refinement not as good as some of their competitors, the Beta was a great car but had bodywork problems, the Stratos is legendary- find one for less than £350k, the Montecarlo looked great but had poor brakes, the Gamma could have been a super executive car but was rushed and should have had a V6 engine, the Delta was a great drive and spawned the HF turbo, 4wd & integrale variants- still the most successful rally car of all time, the 037 rally- surely the best looking group B car of all time, the Delta S4- definitely the craziest group B car, the Prisma & Dedra nice enough but no 3-Series, The Y10 spawned the Cinqecento & gave Mercedes (Smart) ideas, the Thema- too dull to look at even though the 16V turbo's & 8.32's (by Ferrari) were firecrackers. After this they went downhill with badge engineering exercises sharing platforms but by this time (end of '94) they were gone from Blighty.

I believe Marchionne & his cronies should sell the Lancia Brand- It is steeped in history, is older than Alfa, Maserati & Ferrari, someone should be able to re-introduce it targeting BMW/Audi/Jaguar/AR/MB/Lexus/ Infinity/Volvo et al initially with a new Beta style range - Sedan, Coupe, Spider, High Performance Estate,
mid engined 2-seater, but obviously not call it the Beta- Aurelia would be a good starting point. An SUV could follow along with a high performance 4wd variant that should keep the 'integrale' badge. Big warranties, free servicing & guaranteed resale values would help and quality & refinement would be paramount. Look how Kia have performed over a 20yr period with no history/tradition/heritage/ innovation/competition success- imagine how a brand that has all this would perform if marketed right!

I have just sold an 2014 BMW 5 series Touring that I have had for 3.5 years and 97,000 miles and whilst it's been a good comfortable car it has cost a fortune to run and has lost value like a stallion with VD. It is a victim of its own success, but as there are too many of them knocking about it is a buyers, not a sellers market. I have downsized to a Chrysler Delta 2.0Multi-jet and am in the process of turning it back into a Lancia Delta to become my 11th Lancia. It goes well (although I do miss an auto box doing my kind of mileage) has an absolutely fantastic specification and I won't see another one plus it compliments my Fulvia 1600 Sport (Zagato) quite well.

jamies30

5,760 posts

163 months

Wednesday 29th November 2017
quotequote all
This thread kind of illustrates the problem for Lancia - the identity crisis, with folks harking back to the "good old days" of the Delta, when you could argue that Lancia was already dead by the time the Delta arrived. Compared to the engineering of the Aprilia, Aurelia, Flavia, Fulvia, the Delta was pretty much a travesty - a humdrum, cheap, tinny rot-box of a thing which would (deservedly) have sunk with as little fanfare as the Ritmo / Strada, if not for the integrale. It's not easy to see what the point of a revived Lancia would be.

I enjoyed my integrale, and I'd have another - but it doesn't have much in common with what Lancia used to be.

andyps

7,762 posts

216 months

Wednesday 29th November 2017
quotequote all
The last two posts have pointed out what I was indicating in my previous post about Lancia and innovation. It is the pre-Fiat Lancia ethos that would be restorable, taking it back to what it was (but with a better business model). Car companies need innovation, Toyota have done it with the Prius to develop hybrid tech, BMW are using the i brand for it, as FCA could with Lancia if they had the will.

Great choice of Lancia PaulG65, here is mine

Yipper

5,964 posts

24 months

Wednesday 29th November 2017
quotequote all
Lancia, not Alfa, is the best massmarket Italian car brand. Be a shame if they got closed down. They always made the prettiest or mentalest cars, like the Y10 Turbo rollerksate with rocketship turbo.

PaulG65

3 posts

11 months

Wednesday 29th November 2017
quotequote all
AndyPS, that's nice, this is mine