I love Italy. The roads, the cars, the food, the weather. The policemen. Who always urge me on so long as I’m in something fast and red. But it’s first impressions that count, and no, I don’t mean the dread of landing at Malpensa or Fiumicino and then wandering around for an hour getting lost while the Italians lose your luggage.
I mean the depression that sinks in for days every single time I get picked up at an airport by some or other horrible old Chrysler with a Lancia badge tacked on. Fiat couldn’t even let this glorious brand rest in peace, let it go with dignity. No, they had to humiliate Vincenzo’s glorious legacy with rackety, plasticky, diesel vans.
Lancia was nearly throughout its entire history (founded 111 years ago…) one of the greatest car companies on the planet, constantly innovating and losing money because Vincenzo couldn’t bring himself to compromise. They were rubbish businessmen at Lancia, sure, but they never would’ve stooped down to a diesel Chrysler. They would’ve gone out with a turbocharged bang, probably sideways.
Now if you visit www.lancia.it you don’t even get the usual “model range” tab to click on. All you get is a Lancia Ypsilon, which admittedly in its first 1995 generation used to be a pretty cool little car, always related to the Fiat Punto.
The current third-generation model on top of Fiat’s 500/Panda platform has been plodding along since 2011, and I’m sure it’s okay. At least there are no vans on the site, so thankfully that disgrace is over.
These days you can only buy a new Lancia in Italy, not that you should. Used to be you could buy an Ypsilon in Japan until just recently. Except there it was badged as a Chrysler… Didn’t sell so they discontinued it. Karma, baby.