There are many automotive brands, which at one point in time were considered the absolute best at what they do, but later on withered away into irrelevance and even ignominy. One such is Lancia, the Italian brand that was behind some of the finest cars to have come out of Europe between the Forties and the Sixties. Its cars were considered in the same league as iconic Jaguars and BMWs of the era, and it looked like it had a highly promising future. However, things took a turn for the worse soon after Fiat bought it. Starting with the Beta saloon from the early Seventies, all Lancias were reskinned Fiats, all of which had become rather soulless people movers by that point.
The only exception was the Eighties Delta, which, although based on the mediocre Fiat Strada, and being notoriously rust-prone, gained a cult following in its brilliant four-wheel drive Integrale guise and left a lasting legacy with its rally wins. However, this great car was again followed by a string of half-hearted attempts like the Prisma, the Dedra, the Y10 supermini, and the Thema. By the mid-Nineties, the brand was not even a mere shadow of what it used to be and it had to withdraw from significant markets like the UK.
So, when the company announced its plans for a 2009 Delta, Lancia fans were excited and hopeful that this model would take the brand back to its glory days. However, Fiat chose to base the new car on the Bravo, which was already a few years old then. It was a mishmash of different designs, with a grille that looked similar to the Ssangyong Rodius’ and a rear that seemed inspired by the first-generation Nissan Murano.
So despite bringing back an iconic nameplate, and promising a positive change in the brand’s fortunes, the third-generation Delta could not convince even hardcore Lancia fans to part with their money. Attempts to badge engineer it further as a Chrysler were also met with apathy and it was discontinued in 2014. It turned out to be an exercise in futility, with many calling on Fiat to let Lancia die a dignified death.