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  • Writer's pictureMatteo Licata

The Forgotten Lancia

Likely, you've never heard of the Lancia Gamma, a luxury saloon and coupè launched in 1976. That's because it failed and failed hard, despite its many qualities.

Lancia Gamma

And that's precisely why I've dedicated my latest book to it.

Because failures often make for great stories, but also because I personally enjoy writing books that nobody else would, filling a niche market that more established authors and traditional publishing houses leave wide open, as there's too little money there to be worth their while.

Yet, for me, it's different.

My books are, first and foremost, labors of love made possible by Amazon's fantastic self-publishing program. With no publishing company behind me to push for (for example) yet another Ferrari-themed book they need to sell by the thousands, I'm free to pursue the projects I most like, on my own terms, and write the books I'd actually want to read.

Lancia Gamma book matteo licata

But it ain't easy.

Car enthusiasts are a demanding bunch, and rightfully so. The research must be thorough, the information precise, the quality of the sources beyond question.

However, this soon gets surprisingly complicated if you specialize in Italian cars like me, as Italians generally are much better at making things than keeping appropriate records of when and how they do them.

If they exist at all and are accessible (and that's not always the case!), company records are often so patchy that even information that seems quite essential (like production records, for example) may be absent or incomplete.

That's when the help of enthusiasts, collectors, and clubs becomes essential: they know their pride and joys better than anyone, and most have painstakingly collected period documentation like brochures and workshop manuals. Without their help, my latest book just wouldn't have been possible.

Another significant piece of the puzzle was the development work behind the Lancia Gamma, and that information could only come from those who were actually involved in it. However, the 1970s were a long time ago, long enough, in fact, for most of the key personnel from Lancia and Pininfarina involved with the Gamma to get old and die.

But thankfully, not everyone.

Meeting the legendary automobile designer Leonardo Fioravanti has undoubtedly been a highlight of the project. Over his long career at Pininfarina, the man has penned some of the most significant Ferrari models. Yet, he graciously agreed to share his memories about the Gamma's design, answering the many questions I had and letting me publish unique period pictures and drawings.

With its engine being perhaps the Gamma's most controversial aspect, shedding light upon its development was paramount to my book project. Once again, I've been lucky enough to chat with a legend of the Italian automobile industry: in this case, the engineer Paolo Massai.

Their first-hand insights have proven invaluable in completing the story, and I'll never thank them enough for the time they dedicated to me.

Control freak

I've been offered help with my book's cover design and graphics, free of charge. Which I gently yet firmly rejected. Why?

Because it meant relinquishing control of the project, at least in part. My name is on the cover, and I want my books to be 100% mine, down to the very last detail. I'll let each reader judge whether that's a good or a bad thing, and here's the link to do just that if you're interested!

matteo licata lancia gamma book


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