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The “Make Lancia Great Again” Project

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.

Lancia D50 from 1955: A Grand Prix racer, which was an impressive display of all that Lancia was capable of back then.

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.

Several years later, and Eugenio Amos grabs hold of this model: the Lancia Delta Integrale and sets out to build a “Singer” from it.

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.

The new car is to have a redesigned body in aluminium.

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.

It’s even designed in Milano, built by various specialists in Piedmont, and is to be sold from Automobili Amos’ garage in Varese.

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.

My money is on the first car being green: Amos clearly has a thing about the colour. Here it’s the tiles in his garage, but he’s also had his red Ferrari F40 resprayed in a similar dark green colour.

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.

This Lancia Hyena was number 15 out of 25, and sold for Euro 161,000 at Rétromobile in 2017. However, when it was new it was unsellable – despite this one being the colour of hope.

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.

5 Responses

  1. YrHmblHst

    ‘Do I believe in the project?’ If you mean do I believe it will be as ‘successful’ as Singer and a commercially viable project, then NO. Undoubtedly a few cars will be built and then the man behind it will tire of the financial drain, as a wide market simply doesnt exist. Thats all well and good and wonderful and the world is a better place for it. But believe in the project going past that? No. But then, what do I know? I believe in rather distasteful populism…

  2. Anders Bilidt

    Ouuuu… I’m torn…

    On the one hand, I’ve got to be one of the biggest Lancia fans to have never owned a Lancia. Love the marque! Such a rich history full of innovation and ingenuity. And so many lovely models to choose from too. So I’m all for just about anything which might restore just a smidgen of dignity to this one so proud brand…

    But on the other hand – hmmm… an Italian Singer?? Well, I’ll dare go against the flow on this one, and confess that I really don’t see the appeal of a Singer! It does nothing for me. It wants to be old, but then they give it huge alloys with rubberband tyres and those awful LED headlights which just clash massively with everything else on the retro 911 body. It’s terrible! It’s neither classic nor modern, and as such it ends up being just an overly hyped restomod with no real identity. Do I feel the same treatment will do anything good for Lancia. No. I don’t.

    So do I believe in the project? The short answer is no. Not just because of my own feelings about Singer and similar projects, but more so because like @yrhmblhst, I just don’t see there being a market. 911-enthusiasts outnumber Integrale-enthusiasts by a fair bit!
    Nonetheless, I genuinely wish Mr. Amos all the best with his vision! It’s a bold on. And he seems like a proper enthusiast.

  3. Dave Leadbetter

    I wish the comparison to Singer hadn’t got into my head because they’re hateful and cynical things.

    Will the reborn Delta be a success? Almost certainly not as I just don’t see that there’s a large enough market. It also really depends what it turns out to be as a Delta blinged up ala Singer is almost certainly going to be a degradation of the original rather than an enhancement. I’ll have to reserve judgement until we see one, until then I’m on the fence.

  4. Claus Ebberfeld

    Well, @dave-leadbetter , I understand your reservations, but as the Delta was not really a GOOD car in the first place I actually thinks it makes sense to make it better. For me the big question is the styling. On the one hand this shouldn’t be difficult to improve either – on the other hand it could actually ruin the whole idea. The clock is ticking but here May 10th I still haven’t seen any sketches on the design. But really looking forward to that.

    Let me admit that I shared your reservations (that’s the diplomatic term…) for Singers – until I actually encountered one. I have never seen such fine craftmanship on any classic car anywhere before and the attention to detail is astonishing as well. The style as well as the whole purpose can be, should be and is discussed – although I don’t think the word “hateful” fits in that discussion anywhere.

  5. Anders Bilidt

    Claus, I too have in fact seen a Singer in the flesh. Yet, I most agree with Dave on this one. I found it populistic, unauthentic and thoroughly nasty. In fact, I struggle to find any other 911 which I dislike more! – and that’s even before you consider the price and how many other excellent (and authentic) 911’s you could n fact purchase for the price of just one Singer.
    To do something similar to the Integrale is highly unlikely to result in anything pleasant…


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