In the spirit of Kowalski's two threads on Ferrari and Maserati, he suggested that I start this thread.
Some of you who know my earlier posts know that I have a thing for Italian cars. Yes, I'm an GM (and domestic) car guy, but Italian cars are a guilty pleasure of mine. At first it was a way for me to connect to my Italian immigrant parents and uncles and grandparents who would go on and on about old Fiat Cinquecentos, Alfa GTVs and elegant Maserati Quattorportes (who says cars can't bring folks together?). But as I got older I really took an interest - and kind of had a special soft spot for Lancia. My nonno (grandfather) used to tell me stories about the beautiful Lancia cars that doctors, lawyers, politicos and professionals used to drive in Avellino (a city not far from his village) and what a wonder it was to him --- seeing as they didn't have many cars in the whole village he lived in as a child. That kinda struck a cord with me and I became a Lancia fan.
Anyway, in the world of Italian cars, Lancia has been an underdog over the past 20 years or more, but has a rich history for technology and motorsports. They have the most wins (for a vehicle) than any other company in WRC thanks to cars like the Stratos, Delta Integrale S4, and Monte Carlo/037. And Vincenzo Lancia's son was heavily involved in F1, where he found much success (that is, before selling the family's F1 team to a young Enzo Ferrari in the mid-1950s, which became the basis for the Lancia-Ferrari F1 Team -- and history shows us just how well that that endeavor has panned out as Ferrari today is synonymous with Formula 1 racing).
But Lancia had many firsts: the world's first full production V6, in the 1960s it produced narrow-V V4s and V6s (think VW's VR6 today), they were a pioneer in AWD for cars/coupes (even though all you hear about today is that Audi and Subaru started it all) and even had VW's "TwinCharger" (small displacement engine with both a supercharger and turbocharger) figured out in the 80s on the Delta S4 Rallye cars. Truly they were a technology driven company. Many have even said that Lancia DOHC engine designs of the late 1960s helped to sustain Fiat's own engineering operations in the 1970s after the company was purchase by the Agnelli family. But as time wore on -- and as Lancia took a back seat when Alfa Romeo was acquired by the Fiat Empire in the mid-1980's (it was "pushed" on the Agnellis by the Italian Government who didn't want to see Alfa in foreign hands) -- they kind of lost their place in the pecking order and started to suffer from neglect.
But through most of their history, Lancias were always sporty and elegant and had an Italian flair that was more sophisticated than the raw sex-appeal of Ferrari or the sporting-edginess of Alfa Romeo. It was always more upscale and had a slightly different clientel than these other marques, but still very much an icon (especially in their haydays in the 50s and 60s post-WWII Italy -- think "La Dolce Vita" type style with movie stars and sheik celebrities). Even the names were kinda of different. When Vincezo Lancia started the company, he used Greek alphabet names to designate his cars (Beta, Gamma, Kappa, etc) but ironically couldn't use "Alfa" b/c of the confusion with Alfa-Romeo (which today is it's corporate cousin at Fiat Auto S.p.A.). Later Lancia would take on a decidedly Italian flair by using the Latin names of Roman Roads -- a true connection between Italy's Latin/Roman heritage and the modern country (again, the 50s and 60s) that Italy was evolving into. Later on when Fiat Auto took control they switched back to the Greek designations, but it seems that in the future, both moniker-schemes could co-exist (notice the possible revival of the Lancia Fulvia and maybe even a return of the Flaminina?) so that will do well to branch the "classic" Lancias at their zenith to the modern lineup.
In any event, here are a few of the the Lancia's I'd drive if I had the chance (and I assure you the list would be much longer if I had the time)
Lancia Flaminia Zagato Sport
Lancia Scorpion (related to the Monte Carlo/037)
Lancia Delta Integrale
Lancia Thema 8.32 (It was a normal Thema with a Ferrari V8 engine sitting transversely and running through the front wheels. The platform was a cooperationg between Lancia (Thema), Saab (9000), Fiat (Croma), and Alfa Romeo (164)).
Lancia Fulvia (Fiat showed a new concept recently based on the Fiat Barchetta platform. The Barchetta was discontinued, but there is hope that the concept will go into product on the new Grande Punto platform).
Lancia Flavia (larger than the Fulvia and more luxurious -- more like a typical GT car than a sports car, but very elegant)
Lancia Aurelia (considered by lots of folsk to be the worlds first true Gran Turismo vehicle, it was an elegant car and stayed in production for most of the 1950s)
Lancia Stratos (about as classic and aggressive as a car can get, this car is a legend. It was huge in rallying and had a Ferrari sourced engine. Lancia didn't build huge numbers of them for consumers b/c they needed to hit the 500 marque to comply with the WRC's rules and regulations. Unfortunately, some British outfit has the rights to the name and they're gonna try to put out a "new" Stratos -- but it won't be associated with Lancia at all. Bummer).
Lancia Monte Carlo (037) Rally (related to the Scorpion above)