Typical for Lancia’s downfall, this has nothing to do with the Lancia company, but is instead the initiative of a private man: Eugenio Amos wants to build a “Singer-Lancia”.
Once upon a time, Lancia was one of the grandest marques around. Older, wiser and more noble than Porsche and Ferrari combined. But that’s a loooong time ago: The magic of the brand was established during the thirties, and in typically Italian style was inconsistently maintained with hints of genius up until the eighties, after which their performance was rather disappointing. The management within the FIAT empire must have felt the same, as they simply proceeded to waste away the sad remains of Lancia, until what is left today is barely worth mentioning.
It was in April 2017, where an Italian car enthusiast first spoke the famous words: “Make Lancia Great Again”. Famous because very similar words have in recent times been associated with a rather distasteful populism. And famous perhaps because they weren’t spoken in Italian – which I’m sure would have sounded a million times more sexy. But Signor Eugenio Amos is Italian and he also seems like a genuinely good guy.
Nonetheless, it would appear that his approach to making Lancia great again, is in fact American inspired: in his newly established company Automobili Amos, he intends to build a “Singer” – only it’ll be based on Lancia’s last big success, the Delta Integrale. But precisely as with the American Singer interpretation of their Porsche 911 (964), the Delta is really only the fundamental base – or donor – for the project, which in reality is more of a reinterpretation of what we today believe the original car was in period. Slightly complicated. In short I suppose one could call it retro-futurism.
As millions of car enthusiasts have clearly noted by now, it has certainly worked for Singer. But the Singer is of course also built around a Porsche – a marque which ever since hmmm-let’s-say-the-mid-sixties has manufactured one of the world’s best sports cars. A marque which also still thrives to this day and furthermore has millions of loyal followers. In stark contrast, Lancia might still have strong support from some 20 ViaRETRO readers and maybe another 200 hardcore enthusiasts in Italy.
Not that there’s anything wrong with the Integrale. Well, there is. But I suppose that’s of little significance when the legendary Integrale will be exposed to a thorough reinterpretation anyway? Amos will use the Integrale 16V as the basis (but not the Evo’s as he’s of the opinion that they ought to be preserved as they left the factory), and the very least they should aim for is a higher level of quality than what Lancia achieved. However, Amos says they are taking the project much further than that, as approximately 1000 components will be changed or reengineered. The new car will even receive a new body this time made of aluminium, and a new interior too. It sounds undeniably expensive, but then so is a Singer – because real quality rarely comes cheap.
Amos no doubt has an awareness and understanding for this. He has participated in a variety of motorsports right from Lamborghini Supertrofeo to Paris – Dakar, and also owns a vast collection of collector cars which are hugely more expensive than a Lancia Delta Integrale. The 32-year-old businessman is a diehard enthusiast, who dreams of building his perfect sports car, and seemingly has both the energy, the vision and not least the money to see through this project.
Though it’s still a valid question whether that’ll be enough, when the starting point is the by now rather diluted Lancia.
A very similar project has even been attempted previously. The Dutch car enthusiast and businessman Paul V. J. Koot dreamt of a more modern version of the then still new but aging HF Integrale. He approached none other than Zagato with the project, and by 1992 the Hyena prototype was presented. Koot was so impressed with the shapely aluminium body that he wanted to put it into production, as he believed there was a market. Sadly, the Hyena ended up being much too expensive and a mere 25 cars were produced. I saw one in the flesh at last year’s Rétromobile, and must confess it truly is scrumptious. But even so, they still couldn’t sell them, and that despite Lancia at the time being dominating and current rally world champions.
Should money, patience or the customers not quite suffice, then Eugenio Amos can at least rest assured that this too is perfectly within the spirit of Lancia. Even in their glory days, they would often manufacture cars which they didn’t earn sufficient – if any – money on.
But I genuinely hope, wish and dream of Amos’s project becoming a success. Times are perhaps better now? Singer’s business model has proven its worth, and Amos’s car will meet an apparently insatiable market for exclusive and bespoke sports cars. Should he succeed, I would think that it can surely only benefit the real and proper classic Lancia’s too.
We shall soon know, as Amos has previously announced that the new car will be ready by March 2018.
Do you believe in the project?
Pictures courtesy of Automobili Amos.