► We love the Stratos
► And the Integrale
► But spare a thought for these beauties too
There’s more to Lancia than just cool rally cars, you know. Hold on, look at that one jumping through the air! Cor!
Clever little boxy saloon and pretty coupe, powered by a narrow-angle V4 driving the front wheels. HF coupe beat the Porsche 911s to win the International Championship For Manufacturers, precursor to the WRC. 2003’s retro Fulvia concept never progressed – fortunately, as it happens, because it would have been based on the Fiat Punto and rubbish.
2) Fulvia Zagato
Lancia and Italy’s most ugly-prone design house procreated several times with great results. This little bloater might look like a bag of crisps at 30,000ft, but is based on the already excellent Fulvia coupe, and fitted with a unique Zagato shell. ’92 Hyena was a modern reinterpretation.
With all the praise heaped on the growler, it’s easy to forget that the Delta was in fact an entire range of cars. Voted European Car of the Year in 1980, it was a tidy handler and the front-drive, turbocharged 1600 HF that preceded the Integrale was a great hot hatch in its own right.
Innovative ’50s coupe popularised the V6 engine and used a rear transaxle combining gearbox, clutch and differential to provide ideal weight distribution, just like a modern Ferrari GT. And it was only a Ferrari that prevented an Aurelia from winning the ’51 Mille Miglia, though at the following year’s Targa Florio it was unstoppable, bagging all three podium places.
5) Thema 8.32
Ever heard the one about the front-wheel-drive Ferrari? The regular Lancia Thema Turbo was fast, but this unhinged Italian supersaloon used a modified Ferrari 308 motor, minus the racing-style flat-plane crank, hence the 8 (cylinders) and 32 (valves) in the name. Sexy as a central-heating boiler, but then you don’t look at the mantlepiece, as the saying goes.
Massively modified Beta Montecarlo is best remembered as the last two-wheel drive machine to win the WRC manufacturers’ championship before Quattro changed things forever. Mid-mounted, supercharged four produced 265bhp in early cars and up to 325bhp in final Evo 2 guise. There were road cars too: 200 Stradale models were built to meet homologation rules.
Somewhat less successful was this Group C racer powered by a twin-turbo version of Ferrari’s 308 V8. Though more powerful than the mighty Porsche 962s, fuel consumption and unreliability (you don’t say?) ensured it only ever made it to the podium’s top step a handful of times.
Saloon, coupe, spyder, mid-engined sports car, and fastback shooting brake, the Beta was all things to all men not afraid to get matey with the Bondo and rattle cans on an annual basis. Early cars rusted so badly that Lancia UK actually bought them back off owners. Supercharged Volumex models packed a deadly 135bhp from their 2.0 fours.
Hard to imagine now, but Lancia was once known for big glamorous GTs, like the Flaminia. An update of the Aurelia, the Flaminia was also available as a sober saloon, but sexiest as a coupe or spyder bodied by design houses like Touring and Zagato. Still, I’m sure today’s rebadged Chrysler Voyager has some plus points. Like you can’t buy one in the UK.
As if being an F1 driver in the ’50s wasn’t scary enough, Lancia went and strapped a pair of fuel tanks to the flanks of its D50, which managed five wins from 14 starts, and took Fangio to drivers’ championship glory. When Lancia hit the skids, Ferrari took over the project, but by then Maserati’s 250F was the new boss.