Until recently, Lancia resembled the old Ypsilon after death. But Stellantis will electrically revive the brand. The Pu+Ra HPE concept car is the real deal and looks stunning. However, we look back with nostalgia on these 10 Lancias of yesteryear.
1. Lancia Lambda
Vincenzo Lancia (1881-1937) started his own car brand at the age of 25. The Lambda, launched in 1922, was the first car to have a self-supporting body. This saves a lot of weight and greatly improves torsional rigidity. The Lambda also pioneered independent front suspension with struts and coil springs. The modern aluminum (!) 2.1-liter V4 engine with a very small block angle has an overhead camshaft. The power of 50 hp is impressive for the time. A much-followed innovation is the oil filter. This prevents internal contamination and significantly extends engine life.
2.Lancia Aurelia Berlina
In 1951, Lancia launches the ultramodern Aurelia on the market. Lancia opted for as many lightweight materials as possible, and the Aurelia is also the first car to come with a V6 as standard. What’s more, the Italian is causing a stir with independent rear suspension, transaxle construction for traction and bodywork without B-pillars. The doors and bonnet are made of aluminium, as are the heads of the six-cylinder engine behind the front axle. The car is light, but at least as solid as a Mercedes. Especially in the two-door GT version, the Aurelia is loved by movie stars including Gina Lollobrigida, Ava Gardner and Gary Cooper.
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3. Lancia Delta Integral
The first Lancia Delta it is presented at the IAA in Frankfurt in 1979 and remains in production for about 15 years. But in truth, the Delta is more successful in motorsport than in showrooms. At the end of the 1980s, the Italian broke the dominance of the Audi Quattro and the Peugeot 205 in world rallying and won six (!) world titles. That makes it a worthy Stratos successor. The Delta Integrale Evoluzione II is the latest edition. Its two-liter sixteen-valve engine delivers 215 hp and, thanks to its relatively low weight (approx. 1250 kg), it reaches 100 km/h in 5.5 seconds. The top speed is 220 km/h.
4. Lancia Kappa Coupe
After being taken over by Fiat in 1969, Lancias were plagued by mediocre quality for years. The Kappa produced from 1995 to 2000 showed that the brand could still build decent cars. Although the Kappa was also available with turbocharged four-cylinder and V6 engines, most were sold with wonderfully thunderous five-cylinders. Unfortunately, the Kappa sedan’s design is only as attractive as its average repair history. For more excitement, you should go for the SW – or better yet – the Coupé. The latter is even a little controversial because of its somewhat odd proportions. “But yummy,” we might add.
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5. Lancia Stratos
The Lancia Stratos (1973-1976) was designed for rallies. Its length and wheelbase are comparable to that of a small Fiat, but it is as wide and tall as a Ferrari 308. Its transverse V6 comes from the Ferrari Dino 246 GT and sends 190 hp to the rear wheels in the street version. In competition trim, there are 285 hp. The driver and co-driver sit in a steel monocoque, to which a load-bearing subframe is attached front and rear. The folding nose and tailpiece are made of plastic, as are the doors. In 1974, 1975 and 1976, Lancia won the constructors’ title in the World Rally Championship with the Stratos.
6. Lancia Fulvia Coupe
The handsome Fulvia Coupé (1965-1976) looks nothing like its angular sedan namesake. We owe the design to Pietro Castagnero. In all versions, the Fulvia Coupé has a V4 engine under the hood, with a very tight block angle – just like the Lambda. Cylinders can still share a common cylinder head. This makes the engine equipped with two overhead camshafts nice and compact. The displacement ranges from 1200 to 1600 cm3. With Sandro Munari at the wheel, the agile Fulvia Coupé won the Monte Carlo Rally in 1972.
7. Lancia Theme 8.32
Like the Stratos, the lancia theme 8.32 a Ferrari engine, but then a 32-valve eight-cylinder. This makes the Thema (like the Alfa Romeo 164, Fiat Croma and Saab 9000 a product of the Type 4 project) a serious sports sedan. The Giugiaro’s introverted design has been updated with a thicker grille, larger wheels, modified skirts and the world’s first actionable rear spoiler. In order not to test the limits of front-wheel drive too much, Lancia reduces power from 240 to 215 hp. Torque rises correctly: from 240 to 285 Nm. Fun Fact: Type 4-mate Saab 9000 Aero squeezes more power (225 hp, 342 Nm) from a turbocharged four-cylinder engine…
8. Lancia Range Berlina
The owners of the Lancia Flaminia are shocked in 1976. Their luxury sedan finally gets a successor after six years, it turns out to be a futuristic-looking fastback… Even worse is the engine. This is not a V6, but a four-cylinder boxer – an unreliable kind, as will soon be seen. The camshaft drive and the camshafts themselves are very sensitive to wear and lubrication is insufficient. This makes the boxer like the Roman city of Pompeii, but with two volcanoes about to erupt. Objectively speaking, the Gamma is not the best car, but the whimsical and rare Italian beauty exerts an irresistible attraction for us.
9. Lancia Thesis
We found Kappa to be a bit boring, but that’s not the case with its successor. As launches thesis by American designer (!) Michael Vernon Robinson Lancia made one last attempt in 2002 to win over the European elite. The sedan’s bodywork is a nod to the past, the imposing grille and characteristic taillights give the impression that the Lancia has risen from the ashes. Unfortunately, the first years of construction know many technical malheur, in addition, the great Lancia Thesis seems unable to face the German competition. After around 16,000 units built, production ends in 2008.
10. Lancia Beta HPE
Of all the Lancia Beta body styles, we think the HPE (1975-1984) is perhaps the best looking. However, the elegant Italian is not just made to look good. It combines its elegant design with practical features. After all, it is not a coupe, but a shooting brake with a large third door and enough space for four occupants and their luggage. Especially if you have the 2.0-litre four-cylinder with twin-camshaft in the slim nose, the Lancia Beta offers excellent performance. Unfortunately, the quality of the technology and sheet metal is deplorable, leaving very few HPEs left.