Lancia


The History of Lancia

   

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 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. In 1937 Vincenzo died of a heart attack, and his wife Adele Miglietti Lancia and his son Gianni Lancia took over the firm. They persuaded Vittorio Jano to join Lancia as an engineer. Jano had already made a name for himself by constructing the Alfa Romeo 1750 Sport Alfa 6C, 2300, 2900, P2 Alfa Romeo P2 and P3 Alfa Romeo P3, some of the most successful racers of its time.
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,[3] 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 innovativeness, constant quest for excellence, the fixation of quality, the complication of the construction processes and the antiqued machinery meant that all cars essentially had to be hand-made. With little commonality between the various models, the cost of production continued to increase extensively, whilst demand did not.
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.
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.
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 division in October 2009. Fiat has also stated that, depending on the market, some Chrysler cars will be sold as Lancias and vice versa. Francois plans to reestablish the Chrysler brand as an upscale brand, a position somewhat muddied after the Plymouth brand was discontinued.  At the 2010 Detroit Auto Show, A Chrysler badged Lancia Delta was on display, likely the first Lancia to be sold as a Chrysler.

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