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Lancia Automobiles S.p.A. () is an Italian automobile manufacturer founded in 1906 by Vincenzo Lancia and which became part of the Fiat Group in 1969. The company has a long history of producing distinctive cars and also has a strong rally heritage. Modern Lancias are seen as presenting a more luxurious alternative to the models in the Fiat range upon which they are based. One of the firm's trademarks is the use of letters of the Greek alphabet as the names of its models. The Lancia CEO is Olivier François.
Foundation and early years
Lancia was founded on 29 November 1906 in Turin by Vincenzo Lancia and his friend Claudio Fogolin, both being Fiat racing drivers, as Lancia & C. The first Lancia automobile the "tipo 51" or 12 HP (later called Alfa) was made in 1907 and produced from 1908. This car had a small four cylinder engine with a power of 58 bhp.
Lancia is famous for many automotive innovations. These include the 1913 Theta, which was the first production car in Europe to feature a complete electrical system as standard equipment.
The first car with a monocoque-type body – the Lambda, produced from 1922 to 1931 also featured 'Sliding Pillar' independent front suspension that incorporated the spring and hydraulic damper into a single unit (and featured on most production Lancias until the Appia was replaced in 1963). 1948 saw the first 5 speed gearbox to be fitted to a production car (Series 3 Ardea). Lancia premiered the first full-production V6 engine, in the 1950 Aurelia, after earlier industry-leading experiments with V8 and V12 engine configurations. It was also the first company to produce a V4 engine. Also, Lancia pioneered the use of independent suspension in production cars, in an era where live axles were common practice for both the front and rear axles of a car. They also developed rear transaxles which were fitted to the Aurelia and Flaminia ranges.
The original Lancia logo was designed by Count Carlo Biscaretti di Ruffia. The logo shows a lance and shield with flag. The
Turin automobile museum is named after him as Museo Nazionale dell'Automobile “Carlo Biscaretti di Ruffia”. The logo was redesigned in 2007.
Association with other manufacturers
Lancia was not closely associated with any other manufacturer until the late 1960s. By this time, the company's expensive, high standards of production had become unsustainable. In aiming to produce a product of the highest quality, company bosses had sacrificed cost-effectiveness and when Fiat launched a take-over bid in 1969, they accepted. This was not the end of the distinctive Lancia brand, and new models in the 1970s such as the Stratos, Gamma and Beta served to prove that Fiat wished to preserve the image of the brand it had acquired.
During the 1980s, the company cooperated with Saab Automobile, with the Lancia Delta being sold as the Saab 600 in Sweden. The 1985 Lancia Thema also shared a platform with the Saab 9000, Fiat Croma and the Alfa Romeo 164.
The Ypsilon is a supermini car produced from 2003, evolved in 2006 and is Lancia's best selling model as of 2006. Based on the Fiat Punto, Available with small (1.2- and 1.4-litre) petrol and JTD diesel engines, is also signed by MOMO design in one version: the Ypsilon Sport Momo Design.
A small MPV produced since 2004, the Musa is largely based on the Fiat Idea.
A small family car unveiled at the 2008 Geneva motor show. Using stretched version of Fiat Bravo platform. Available as 5-door hatchback.
The Thesis is a four-door executive sedan produced since 2002. It is the successor of the Lancia Kappa.
The Phedra is a MPV made by Sevel, a joint-venture of PSA and Fiat Group. It is manufactured at the Sevel Nord factory near Valenciennes in France, and has been in production since 2002.
Trucks, buses and other historical production
Light commercial vehicles
* Lancia Beta / Lancia Beta Diesel
* Lancia Jolly
* Lancia Superjolly
* Lancia Eta (car with a loading area)
* Lancia Jota (1915)
* Lancia Dijota (1915)
* Lancia Triota (1921)
* Lancia Tetrajota (1921)
* Lancia Pentajota (1924)
* Lancia Esajota
* Lancia Eptajota (1927)
* Lancia Omicron
* Lancia Ro (1932)
* Lancia Ro-Ro (1935)
* Lancia 3Ro (1938)
* Lancia EsaRo (1941)
* Lancia E 290 (1941) single-built electric truck
* Lancia 6Ro (1947)
* Lancia Esatau (1950–1968)
* Lancia Beta / Lancia Beta Diesel
* Lancia Esatau B (1955)
* Lancia Beta Diesel (1959) Lancia Beta 190, with a supercharged twin-cylinder compressor – two stroke – diesel engine
* Lancia Esadelta B (1959)
* Lancia Esadelta C (1969)
* Lancia Esagamma (1968)
* Lancia Trijota
* Lancia Tetrajota
* Lancia Omicron
* Lancia Ro
* Lancia Esatau
* Lancia Esagamma
* Lancia Esatau V11
* Lancia IZM (1912) ''armored vehicle''
* Lancia 3Ro (1939) ''truck''
* Lancia EsaRo (1942) ''truck''
* Lancia Lince (lynx) (1942) ''armored car - a copy of Daimler Dingo MK I''
* Lancia 6Ro (1948) ''LKW''
* Lancia CL51 (Z 20) (1954) ''troop transporter''
* Lancia TL51 (Z 30) (1954) ''lorries''
Lancia in the United Kingdom
In the late 1970s and 1980s, Lancia suffered an increasing image problem in the United Kingdom, centred around a perception that Lancia cars were prone to rusting, due to the Lancia Beta rust scandal. Poor rust prevention techniques and inadequate water drainage channels led to the Beta gaining a reputation for being rust-prone, particularly the first series vehicles, which were built from 1972–75. The corrosion problems could be structural; for instance where the subframe carrying the engine and gearbox was bolted to the underside of the car. The box section to which the rear of the subframe was mounted could corrode badly causing the subframe to become loose. The problem affected mostly first series saloon models and not the Coupé, HPE, Spider or Montecarlo versions.
In the UK, Lancia's largest export market at the time, the company commenced a campaign to buy back vehicles affected by the subframe problem. Some of these vehicles were 6 years old or older. Customers were invited to present their cars to a Lancia dealer for an inspection. If their vehicle was affected by the subframe problem, the customer was offered a part exchange deal to buy another Lancia or Fiat car. The cars that failed the inspection were scrapped.
Lancia had already introduced one year previously a six-year anti-corrosion warranty. Whilst later Betas, second series cars, had reinforced subframe mounting points and post-1979 cars were better protected from the elements, these issues, accompanied by critical press coverage, damaged the whole marque's sales success in the UK market. Lancia's reputation was not helped by widespread, although never backed by evidence, rumours of Fiat and Lancia using Russian steel. Later Betas had galvanised bodies which generally lasted very well.
Unfortunately, on 9 April 1980, the Daily Mirror and certain TV programmes such as That's Life! got wind of what Lancia was already doing to help its customers and embarked on a slanderous campaign to exaggerate the issue and humiliate the manufacturer. There were false claims that the problem persisted in later cars by showing photographs of scrapped 1st Series saloons, falsely referring to them as being newer than five and six years old. Other contemporary manufacturers (British, French, Japanese and German) whose cars also suffered just as badly from corrosion were never treated with the same harshness.
The last right-hand drive model was sold in 1994, after which Lancia withdrew from all right-hand drive markets. At this time the Thema and Dedra were the only current models.
The Beta still enjoys a following today among enthusiasts.
In September 2006 it was announced that the brand will return to the UK with a right-hand drive version of its new Delta, in early 2009, although the marque's reintroduction to the UK and other right hand drive markets has been subsequently postponed in light of current economic conditions .
Lancia in the United States
Whilst some models had been imported on a small scale in the 1950s and 1960s, Lancias were officially sold in the United States from 1975. Sales were comparatively slow and the range was withdrawn at the same time as Fiat in 1982.
In 2009, following Fiat's acquisition of a stake in United States-based Chrysler and part of Chrysler's restructuring plans, it was stated that Fiat plans for the Chrysler brand and Lancia to codevelop products, with some vehicles being shared. Olivier Francois, Lancia's CEO, took over as CEO of the Chrysler brand in October 2009.
Lancia in motorsport
After Vincenzo Lancia's son Gianni became director of the firm, it started to take part more frequently in motorsport, eventually deciding to build a Grand Prix car. Vittorio Jano was the new designer for Lancia and his Lancia D50 was entered into the 1954 Spanish Grand Prix, where Alberto Ascari took the pole position and drove the fastest lap. In the 1955 Monaco Grand Prix Ascari crashed into the harbour after missing a chicane. One week later Ascari was killed in an accident driving a Ferrari sports car at Monza. With Ascari's death and Lancia's financial problems the company withdrew from Grand Prix racing.
Altogether Lancia took two victories and ten podiums in Formula One.
Remnants of the Lancia team were transferred to Scuderia Ferrari,
where Juan Manuel Fangio won the 1956 championship with a Lancia-Ferrari car.
Lancia has been very successful in motorsport over the years, and mostly in the arena of rallying. Prior to the forming of the World Rally Championship, Lancia took the final International Championship for Manufacturers title with the Fulvia in 1972. In the WRC, they remain the most statistically successful marque (despite having withdrawn at the end of the 1993 season), winning constructors' titles with the Stratos (1974, 1975 and 1976), the 037 (1983) and the Delta (every year from 1987 to 1992). The Delta is also the most successful individual model designation ever to compete in rallying.
Juha Kankkunen and Miki Biasion both won two drivers' titles with the Delta. Among other drivers to take several World Rally Championship wins with Lancia were Markku Alén, Didier Auriol, Sandro Munari, Bernard Darniche, Walter Röhrl, Björn Waldegård and Henri Toivonen. The history of the brand in rallying is also tainted with tragedy, with deaths of Italian driver Attilio Bettega at the 1985 Tour de Corse in a Lancia 037 and then Finnish championship favourite Toivonen in a Lancia Delta S4 at the same rally exactly a year later. These deaths would eventually lead to the end of Group B rallying.
Sports car racing
During Lancia's dominance of rallying, company also expanded into sports cars in the late 1970s until the mid-1980s. Originally running the Stratos HF in Group 4, as well as a brief interlude with a rare Group 5 version, the car was replaced with the Monte Carlo Turbo. In 1982 the team moved up to Group 6 with the LC1 Spyder, followed by the Group C LC2 coupé which featured a Ferrari powerplant in 1983. The LC2 was a match for the standard-setting Porsche 956 in terms of raw speed, securing 13 pole positions over its lifetime, however its results were hampered by poor reliability and fuel economy and it only managed to win three European and World Endurance Championship races. The team's inability to compete against the dominant Porsche 956 and 962 sports cars led it to drop out of sportscar racing at the end of 1986 in order to concentrate on rallying, although private teams continued to enter LC2s with declining results until the early 1990s.
* Lancia V4 engine
* Lancia V6 engine
* Lancia V8 engine
* Lancia Flat-4 engine