The 5 Lancias I'd love most to own
In a period when news only seems to get from bad to worse, there's been at least one good one: Stellantis' commitment to once again invest in the Lancia brand. Here are my five favorites...
The storied Italian brand may not enjoy the same worldwide reach and brand recognition Alfa does, but sure its heritage is second to none, and I can't wait to see what the future Lancias will be like.
But, given a suitably large budget and a capacious garage, which models from Lancia's outstanding back catalog would I get?
Here are my picks:
Gamma Coupé 2.5 IE
I grew up in 1980s Turin, a place and time where most recent Lancia models were pretty common street furniture.
But not the Gamma.
In either saloon or coupé form, it was always a rare sight, much to the detriment of the urban landscape, as the Coupé looks magnificent.
Styled by Pininfarina's Aldo Brovarone, the Gamma Coupé is a class act if I've ever seen one, especially in the darker colors.
Personally, I'd have a later "series 2" model in black, a 2.5 liters Coupé with fuel injection. These later models no longer suffered from the reliability issues that tainted the early cars, but it was too little too late.
Less than 1200 fuel injected Gamma Coupés were made between 1980 and 1983, further proof that we simply can't have nice things.
Speaking of pretty things nobody seemed to want in the period, the Beta Montecarlo is another case in point. Launched in a period of economic stagnation and equipped with a somewhat underwhelming engine, Pininfarina's masterpiece is much more in demand now than perhaps it's ever been, as cars just don't look this good anymore.
I'd have a series one model, built between 1975 and 1978, for its design purity, preferably with the canvas sunroof. The Montecarlos so equipped, were, rather inappropriately, called Spider in the period.
Fulvia Coupé 1.6 HF "Lusso"
Not all the cars styled by Piero Castagnero were hits, but the Fulvia Coupé certainly is. While the original 1.6 HF was stripped-out homologation special, things changed in 1970 with the revised "series 2" Coupé model range, when the 114 HP of the highly-strung 1.6 liters V4 engine could also be enjoyed together with the creature comforts of the regular Fulvia. Being more of a grand touring guy than a racer, I believe these "Lusso" models suit me best.
Aurelia B24 Spider
I don't think I need to explain why I'd have this among the various Aurelia models: just look at it. Styled by the never-celebrated-enough Franco Martinengo for Pininfarina, the B24 Spider is perhaps one of the finest Italian cars ever made, as even its component parts look like works of art.
The original B24 model, built between 1955 and 1956 in far fewer copies than I'd have liked, is aesthetically the purest, with its slim quarter bumpers, panoramic windscreen, and lack of side windows. And also my personal favorite.
It doesn't get the top spot simply because it's almost too beautiful for this world, and its usability is, admittedly, quite limited.
Delta HF Integrale Evo "La Perla"
To the surprise of no one, the Integrale gets the number one spot on my list. Between 1992 and 1994, several limited editions of the Delta Integrale Evoluzione were proposed, all so good-looking that picking a favorite is like being a judge at a Miss Universe contest.
However, someone's gotta do it, so I'd have the Integrale "Bianca," available from January of 1994 and manufactured in 300 copies. This model is also known as "La Perla" due to its gorgeous pearlescent white paintwork, with an elegant silver coachline. The interior was finished in blue leather, and the combo simply is pure perfection to my eyes.