Lancia History: Timeless Italian Craftsmanship and Elegance

Indulge in the Lancia Legacy – Discover Italian Lancia History

1906 – 1910 – The origin

The history of Lancia begins in Turin in the autumn of 1906. Vincenzo Lancia is 25 years old and works at Fiat as a test driver; He is a champion of the steering wheel of proven experience. He brings a wealth of technical knowledge and innovative ideas to found the company. 

He invests his savings and also those of his partner Claudio Fogolin. His maxim: “Constant innovation and quality without respite. Price is not a problem” After the birth of Lancia, the first model arrived in 1907: the Alpha. The vehicle surprises with the rotation speed of its engine, 1,800 rpm, very high for the time.

1911 – 1920 – Up to V12 engines

In 1913, the Theta was the first vehicle manufactured in Europe to be equipped with electrical systems as standard equipment: headlights and starter motor. 

One year later, the Italian manufacturer presented at the Paris and London shows a top-of-the-range prototype with 12-cylinder mechanics in a closed V of 20º and 6,330 cc: it develops 150 hp at 2,800 pm. 

Although this model is never manufactured, some of the solutions it adopts the brand with a solid reputation as a manufacturer of cars with a sporty temperament and excellent stability for years to come.

1921 – 1930 – Dealers around the world

In 1922 the revolutionary Lambda appeared, with a monocoque body, independent front suspension, hydraulic shock absorbers, and an integrated transmission tunnel. It has a 4-cylinder closed V engine. The brand continues to grow, and in 1925 it even had a dealer in Sunset Boulevard (Los Angeles, United States). This decade of growth closes with the presentation of a narrow 24 ° V-shaped 8-cylinder mechanics.

1931 – 1940 – The utilities arrive

Lancia patented in 1931 an elastic engine mounting system that can oscillate freely so as not to transmit vibrations to the frame and bodywork. It debuted in the Astura (1931-1939), a model powered by a 72 hp V8 engine with a four-speed gearbox. In addition to the saloon, the Astura has a beautiful Sports Coupé body designed by Pourtout.

In 1933, the Lancia Augusta was configured as the first utility vehicle with hydraulically controlled brakes, hinged doors on the current side (a novelty for the time), and the absence of a central pillar. This vehicle begins a path of small models, in which the Ardea and Appia later ran.

Vincenzo Lancia passed away in 1937 . On that same date, the Aprilia, a car with four-wheel independent suspension and a two-volume body specially designed according to aerodynamic criteria, saw the light: a Cx of 0.47 (measured in 1970 in the Pininfarina wind tunnel). ).

1941 – 1950 – Saloons, coupes, sports 

The brand practically abandoned its activity during the postwar years, the severe economic depression, and its reconstruction. However, around 1948 it resumed part of its production, especially of old models. It unveiled an innovative five-speed gearbox speed designed for series models, specifically for the veteran utility Ardea.

1951 – 1960 – The Aurelia saga

Since the beginning of the decade, Lancia has practically recovered its productive rhythm before the world war. Over the next few years, the famous Aurelia gradually appeared in saloon (code B10), coupé (code B20), and even Spider (code B24) formats, which are in keeping with the best Italian tradition of the time in sports matters. All of them respond to Pininfarina designs and use a series-produced 60º V6 gasoline engine.

1961 – 1970 – The Fulvia and the crisis

In 1960, the Flavia, the first front-wheel-drive Italian vehicle, was launched. It mounts a double circuit of brakes with discs on all four wheels, as well as seat belts – a solution advanced at the time. The Fulvia arrived in 1963: a light coupé (950 kg) that only two years later claimed the laurels in the Monte Carlo Rally.

In 1972 he achieved the World Championship of the specialty. Just over 140,000 units are manufactured, with powers that range from 87 to 93 hp. Almost at the end of the decade, in 1969, Lancia is on the verge of financial bankruptcy: Fiat intervenes to save it, integrating it within the group and giving it a role of luxury and elegance.

1971 – 1980 – Cars born to race

The 70s began with the arrival of the Beta (1972), a car that, among other things, has multi-link rear suspensions and automatic headlight adjustment. The Beta HPE variant is derived from this model, with sports tints. In 1974, the Stratos with a central 190 hp V6 engine, manufactured by Ferrari, emerged. Only 492 units are manufactured, and its wedge-shaped design is the work of Bertone.

The competition version – the idea for which it was conceived – yields 280 hp and wins the World Rally Championship in 1974, 1975, and 1976 with Sandro Munari at the controls.

The Delta was presented and elected Car of the Year in Europe in 1980. It is a two-volume compact devised by Giorgio Giugiaro. This model introduces the brand to all-wheel drive, which will provide, among other things, the dominance in rallying, with six consecutive world titles won between 1987 and 1992. It is driven by drivers of the stature of Didier Auriol and Juha Kankkunen.

1981 – 1990 – The range is diversified

In 1984 the Prisma arrived, which has the same mechanics (1.3 gasoline of 75 and 78 CV; 1.5 of 75 and 80; 1.6 of 90, 99, 105 and 109 CV; and 2.0 of 116 CV) and configuration as the compact Delta, albeit with a three-volume sedan body.

It is the first model of the brand to adopt a 1.9 65 hp diesel engine. This year, a joint project between the Fiat Group and Saab resulted in several models: Lancia Thema, Saab 9000, Alfa Romeo 164, and Fiat Croma. 

The Thema is the first series model to apply counter-rotating shafts and other elements such as supercharging with a turbocharger, intercooler and overboost valve, Alcantara upholstery. Later, in 1985, the Y10 utility vehicle was born. 

A year later, the first Lancia with permanent or connectable all-wheel-drive emerged. On that same date, the Thema 8.32 arrives with a V8 Ferrari engine and automatic rear spoiler and the family alternative of the range, called Thema SW.

 The Y10 relaunched the manufacturer’s sales at the end of the decade. FIRE thrusters are released with a fantastic pneumatic mechanism to actuate the rear-drive and convert it to 4WD. It also innovates with a tailgate made of thermoplastic material in black (in contrast to the rest of the body tonality), Alcantara upholstery, and electromechanical air controls, a first in the B segment of utility vehicles.

Finally, in 1989 a car appeared that, with time, would become a true emblem: the Delta HF Integrale 16V. It incorporates permanent all-wheel drive, three differentials, a Ferguson viscous joint (governs the traction between the front and rear axles according to adherence), and Torsen rear self-locking.

At that time, the Dedra, the Prisma relay, debuted (manufactured until 2000). The versions include advanced solutions in the segment, such as the ACS automatic suspension control, which varies its hardness according to the driving style and the road surface condition.

1991 – 2000 – State-of-the-art telematics

In 1991, the last restyling of the Thema was produced, which, among other innovations, incorporates an intelligent suspension system. The Infocenter assistance program was also presented in this decade (allows you to connect to a telephone assistance center from the car with the touch of a button). Button, in addition to obtaining information on workshops, hotels, etc.) and the Lancia Code security nomenclature (electronic code that reads the car key in the ignition cylinder to authorize the start).

The following year is particular for Lancia: in addition to many new features (the Y10 is updated – a year before its disappearance – and the evolution of the Delta HF Integrale arrives), it celebrates its sixth consecutive title in the World Rally Championship

Then comes the second-generation Delta. In 1994, the Kappa, a saloon that replaced the Thema, was launched on the market, but with little success, only 800,000 units were manufactured until the end of production in 2000. Between this year and 1998, the Delta was also marketed. Turbodiesel and HPE (three-door variant); the Zeta minivan (1994), co-produced with PSA Peugeot Citroën; the Ypsilon (1996-2003), a replacement for the Y10; and two new bodies for the Kappa, a station wagon (1996) and a coupe (1997).

The Italian manufacturer closed the decade with the launch of the Lancia Lybra in 1999. This mid-size saloon replaces the Dedra and is based on the Alfa Romeo 156 platform.

2001 – 2009 – Reach the centenary

Lancia begins the century with a new saloon, the Lancia Thesis, replacing the Kappa and featuring a unique design. With engines ranging from 150 to 230 hp, it is the brand’s new flagship. In 2004, it presented its new Lancia Musa model, a compact size minivan based on the Fiat Idea and a design similar to the second generation of the Ypsilon. The third generation Lancia Delta will arrive in 2008, making it the longest C-segment hatchback on the market.

2010 – Act2- Alliance with Chrysler

The acquisition of Chrysler by the Fiat group will mean a renewal of some models of the brand. Taking advantage of the synergies of this type of alliance, Chrysler and Lancia will share models, maintaining the Lancia brand for Europe and the Chrysler brand for the US and British markets.

Thus, in 2011, Lancia presented new models derived from the latest projects of the American firm: the Thema derived from the 300C, the Flavia from the 200C, and the Lancia Voyager substitute for the Phedra.

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