A birthday wish for Lancia


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

P.H. O'meter

Join the PH rating wars with your marks out of 10 for the article (Your ratings will be shown in your profile if you have one!)

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Rate this article

Comments (56) Join the discussion on the forum

  • ELUSIVEJIM 29 Nov 2017

    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 29 Nov 2017

    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 29 Nov 2017

    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 29 Nov 2017

    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 29 Nov 2017

    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.

View all comments in the forums Make a comment