In what is still a rather cloudy economic climate, despite the odd glimpse of financial recovery, it remains doubtful if Australia will ever see the return of the prestigious Italian marque, Lancia.
That’s a shame because I have fond memories of the brand, with a poster of the fabulous Lancia Stratos rally car gracing my bedroom wall alongside the Lamborghini Countach. Yes, the Stratos had hero status in our house.
Founded in 1906 in Turin by Vincenzo Lancia and Claudio Fogolin, Lancia has been responsible for a host of key automotive innovations. Some of these include the first production car in Europe to come with a complete electrical system as standard equipment in their 1913 Lancia Theta.
They were innovative too. Lancia was the first car company to use a monocoque-type body on the Lambda, which also featured independent front suspension in the form of a spring and hydraulic damper in a single unit.
The first ever 5-speed gearbox in a production car was fitted to the Lancia Series 3 Ardea, and the first full-production V6 engine was employed in the 1950 Aurelia.
Unfortunately Vincenzo Lancia died of a heart attack in 1937 at just 55 years of age, which meant his son Gianni took over the reins of the company.
They even tried their hand at Grand Prix racing, when Vittorio Jano designed the Lancia D50, in which Alberto Ascari claimed pole position and the fastest lap at the 1954 Spanish Grand Prix.
Just one year later after Ascari was killed in a Ferrari at Monza, Lancia decided to withdraw from Grand Prix racing, but only after they scored two wins and ten podiums in Formula One.
But it was rallying that drove Lancia production car sales in the 70’s and 80’s, with the success of the Fulvia in 1972, when it won the International Championship for Manufacturers title.
They fared even better in the WRC (World Rally Championship) and despite withdrawing from Series in 1993, remain the most successful marque with three constructors titles with the Stratos, one with the 037, and five titles with the unbeatable Lancia Delta.
While in Europe last year testing a number of the world’s fastest cars, we saw plenty of the latest offerings from Lancia and sadly, none are worthy of a mention.
Hopefully, that might change if these Lancia sketches are anything to go by. There isn’t a lot of information about the car, other than it might be called the Nuova Strato by either Stefano Bertolo or Giancarlo Concillo.