For years Lancia has been one of the most revered and exciting car manufacturers in the world. What started out as a fairly modest team quickly became kings of rallying. Lancia remains to this day the constructor with the most constructors’ titles in the World Rally Championship, with 10 titles in total. An amazing six of them came with the Delta Integrale from 1987 to 1992. And the Delta Integrale isn’t the only great car the iconic Italian brand has produced.
Icons such as the Stratos, 037 and Fulvia are also truly epic Lancias. Even models like the Montecarlo hold our attention. But suddenly, a year, Lancia somehow disappeared. The once iconic and hugely prolific brand retired from the World Rally Championship as factory equipment in 1992 and retired from series production altogether at the end of 1993. And today Lancia only manufactures only one model, a pathetic car available only in Italy. What happened? Why has Lancia gone from being that mad, all-conquering rally car maker to a brand most people forget even exists? Well, that’s certainly an interesting story.
Tracing the history of Lancia
Lancia, like many other automakers, was founded from humble beginnings. It was founded in 1906 in Turin. This was done by Fiat racing drivers Vincenzo Lancia and his friend Claudio Fogolin. The first car produced by Lancia would be the Tipo 15, later called Alfa, and this would be in production from 1907 to 1908. Of course, back then the two founding friends would have no idea what the car would be like. ‘coming. be for the business. Lancia would soon begin introducing various features to its cars, such as sliding pillar front suspension on the Lambda, a trait the company would be famous for.
It was during the 1970s and 1980s that the brand took off. The marque would come under the control of Fiat in the late 1960s and would soon enter the world rally scene. She had tried her hand at Formula 1 in the 1950s with minimal success, but it was in rallying that things really took off. The brand began racing the iconic Fulvia, and soon many of its road cars would become championship famous. The most emblematic must be the Stratos, the 037, the Fulvia of course and the Delta Integrale. The 037 being of course the only two-wheel-drive rally car to ever beat Audi’s mighty four-wheel-drive Quattro.
Lancia on the road car front
While the brand had a mixed history with its road cars, the aforementioned group, as well as other models such as the Monte Carlo claim our attention. There are other icons such as the Flaminia, Gamma and Aurelia GT. All of these names evoke great feelings and memories of a truly iconic brand. And you could forgive Lancia for its faults and all the problems its cars have had for good reason. Each one of them was a thing of beauty.
A Top Gear segment filmed a few years ago highlighted just how gorgeous Lancias are. And how many of them had so many flaws. The Fulvia was very expensive. The Montecarlo had bad brakes, fixed by removing…the brake booster, and would rust easily. And the Stratos was horribly cramped. But by God, all these cars look amazing. And there were some mechanical firsts, like the first road car with a V6 engine. But then, in the 1980s, came the reason why Lancia in 2022 is a complete shadow of itself.
Lancia’s reputation is ruined overnight
In the UK, Lancia’s reputation was completely tarnished in 1980. Faulty and rusty Beta coupes were bought back by the company, under pressure from the media, and new ones given to their owners. The faulty betas were all overwritten afterwards. This destroyed Lancia’s reputation not only in Britain, but around the world. The brand was never able to fully recover and in February 1994 it withdrew from the right-hand drive market entirely and from now on Lancias can only be purchased in their country of origin. origin, Italy. They only make one model, the horrible Ypsilon. It was a sad turn of events for one of the biggest automakers in the world.
Is there any hope for revival?
The truth is that Lancia is unlikely to ever return to its pre-Beta scandal glory days. The Ypsilon, although the second best-selling car in Italy in 2019, isn’t something the rest of those in Europe, or across the Atlantic, would like. However, all is not entirely lost, as the current owners of Stellantis want the brand to be a bigger part of its future. What does it mean? Who knows. But despite the embarrassment of 1980, Lancia remains a carmaker close to the hearts of almost every gearhead in the world. And that’s something no one can ever take away from us.
Sources: Stellantis, Autoweek, Racing Cars Wiki, Historics, Classic Driver, Car and Classic
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