Lancia Beta Spider. Blighted by subframe troubles
Brand names have downsides. Take Lancia. They are going to bring the fetching Ypsilon into Britain as a Chrysler. It will be a Lancia everywhere else. Poor Vincenzo (1881-1937) will spin in his grave at the thought of his progeny being sold in Britain as a Chrysler.
Well proportioned premium small car. New Ypsilon 4-door with coupe style concealed rear door
Fiat-Chrysler is scared of relaunching Lancia in Britain after disasters in the early 1970s over what apologists called ‘quality issues’. Lancia Betas got so rusty that the importer (Britain was one of its biggest export markets) was obliged to buy lots of them back in an effort to hush things up. Ask Andrew Andersz, who had to go on The World at One to defend the indefensible. Subframes rusted so horribly engines could work loose on their mountings and while tales of them actually falling out were probably exaggerated, it was a bad problem. Beta saloons were worst affected and while Coupes and the splendid Montecarlo did not suffer as severely, they did decay much too quickly and Lancia in Britain collapsed and died.
Apocrypha abounded. It was widely supposed that Russian steel imported as part of Fiat’s deal with the Soviets was to blame.
One of the most advanced small saloons of the 1930s, the Lancia Aprilia had all-round independent suspension, V4 engine and hydraulic brakes.
Well, it’s not like that now. Ultra high and high tensile steel makes up 78 per cent of the Ypsilon’s body weight and at 965kg it is one of the lightest cars in its class. It is made on the Fiat small platform at the Tychy plant in Poland. Sales of the current model peaked at 85,000 in 2004; it’s now down to 50,000 and Lancia expects to sell 120,000 a year of the new extremely pretty version once it becomes less reliant on its home market and starts to export. There will be a choice of three engines a 2-cylinder 0.9 litre petrol TwinAir, and two 4-cylinders, a 1.2 petrol and 1.3 diesel. The TwinAir and the diesel with have sub 100 grams per kilometre CO2 emissions. It sells for €12,400 in Italy.
Italian style; Lancia Ypsilon.
So, if you want a premium priced and really stylish small car would you go for a classic make, like Lancia, or a tired plain old Chrysler, which has more skeletons in its cupboard than Lancia. Chysler 180, Talbot Horizon anybody?
Rally Classic: Lancia Stratos