The history of Lancia

Lancia began in 1906 when Vincenzo Lancia, 25 years old at that time, and a colleague Claudio Fogolin, set up their first factory to produce cars in Turin. He had gained a great deal of experience working for Fiat, for whom he also drove cars in competitions.

The first Lancia was the Alpha which was shown at the Turin motorshow in 1908. This set the trend for Lancia's in being conventional but with innovative ideas such as a higher than normal revving engine, a (patented) oil lubrcation system and an unusual carburettor. This was followed by a series of new cars in the following years - the Beta, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon, Eta, Zeta (gearbox and diff in one unit on rear axle) and in 1913 the Thema (the first production car with a built in electrical system).

Lambda'sDuring the first world war Lancia produced trucks for the military but more cars were to come. In 1919 the Kappa was released (and later Dikappa then Trikappa), followed in 1922 by the Lambda. This was the first car to use a load bearing body (no separate chassis) and independent front suspension (the sliding pillar system which became so characteristic of Lancias). It proved a great success and continued in production until 1931 in which time nearly 13,000 cars were produced. The Dilambda was a luxury car, and was followed by the Artena and Astura, the latter pioneering the use of flexible engine mountings. Also in the 1930's Lancia released the Augusta, the first 'small' Lancia which combined the luxury and comfort expected of a Lancia wth a smaller, more compact body, and later the Ardea.

ApriliaIn 1937 the Aprilia entered production. This had an aerodynamic bodyshell (of unitary construction and pillarless) which was developed in the wind tunnel at Turin Polytechnic, had independent suspension on all four wheels and was powered by a narrow angle V4. Tragically Vincenzo Lancia never saw this car enter production as he died in February 1937 after suffering a heart attack. Production continued up until 1949.

After the second world war production of the Aprilia and Ardea was continued, but Gianni, son of Vincenzo, who controlled the company wanted a new model rather than developing these two cars. At the Turin Motorshow in 1950 the Aurelia was introduced, and as well as having an unusual layout of engine at the front and gearbox, clutch and diff in a transaxle at the rear it also used the Aureliafirst production V6 in the world. It was soon joined by the B20 GT and later the Spider, designed by Pininfarina. In 1953 the smaller stablemate of the Aurelia, the Appia, was introduced. The Aurelia was also the first Lancia to officially compete in motorsport, starting in 1951, and gained many successes - especially at the expense of Alfa Romeo. The next few years saw an ever increasing involvement in motorsport until 1955 when the financial situation at Lancia was so bad that all motorsport activities were stopped. The situation was so bad that Gianni was forced to sell his majority holding in Lancia to Pesenti, a financial group.

Again at the Turin Motorshow, this time in 1957, a new Lancia was shown - the Flaminia. The Flavia followed in 1960 and brought many new ideas including front wheel drive (the first production car in Italy with this layout) and split circuit hydraulic brakes with four discs. As before, a small car to match, the Fulvia, was introduced soon afterwards in 1963. The financial difficulties, however, did not go away and in 1969 Fiat took control.

The Fulvia saloon and coupe were revised, and the Flavia was replaced by the 2000, released in 1971. A new car was urgently needed, and at Turin in 1972 the Beta was presented. Designed by Fiat and using the Fiat twin-cam engine to drive the front wheels the saloon was followed by a coupe, a spider, a two seat mid engined sportscar, the Montecarlo, a 'lifestyle estate' the HPE and a three box saloon, the Trevi. The seventies also saw the production of the Stratos, designed and built (by Bertone) purely for rallying, at which it was most successful, and the Gamma ,which started as a joint venture with Citroen which collapsed part way through development and was completed by Lancia alone.

The Delta was introduced late in 1979 and awarded 'Car of the Year' the following year. It was joined by the Prisma, effectively a Delta with a boot, in 1982, and later development saw the Delta winning numerous rallies as first the S4, then the HF4WD and finally the integrale. In 1984 the Thema, developed jointly with Alfa Romeo, Saab and Fiat returned Lancia to the luxury market where it had been so successful in earlier years. In the same year, but at the other end of the market, the Y10 was introduced, Lancia's first attempt at a 'city' car. In 1989 the Dedra, developed from the Tipo alongside the Fiat Tempra, was introduced.

In 1994 the Kappa was introduced to replace the Thema and in 1995 the Ypsilon to replace the Y10. A new market segment was entered by Lancia in 1996 with the introduction of the Zeta, an MPV developed jointly with Fiat, Peugeot and Citroen.
The 1990's also saw the introduction of the 'New Delta', a new car to replace the Delta but continuing the name. And in 1999 the Lybra was released, a replacement for the Dedra.

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