The “new” Lancia Gamma 1976 up for auction
Italian car enthusiasts in the United States will certainly remember Lancia‘Beta and Scorpio, but chances are they won’t remember many others. Lancia’s second landing in the United States in the 1970s, following its first in the 1950s, had only modest regional successes that did not extend significantly beyond these two nameplates. But the automaker’s European lineup was much more diverse at the time and covered a surprising number of segments as Lancia tried to position itself as a luxury brand.
This luxury-oriented lineup included an unusually styled fastback sedan called the Gamma, which debuted in 1976 and remained in production until 1984. Despite its fastback profile, the Gamma was not a hatchback, with only a modest trunk lid in the rear, both when automakers like Simca, Talbot, Rover and Citroën were fully on board with large tailgate hatches. Intended to be the flagship of the range, the Gamma was for the time not very common even on its native continent, and remains today relatively unknown outside the circles of European collectors of Lancia.
Later this month, however, bidders will have the opportunity to purchase a 1976 Lancia Gamma Berlina 2500 with delivery miles, a car that had sat in the back of a dealership for years before it was deployed and returned to service. Vintage car auctions in the United Kingdom will offer this Lancia at its next sale at the London Classic Car Show.
What kind of luxury was Lancia’s flagship offering at the time? The flat-four type, with 2.0 and 2.5-liter engines on the menu, driving the front wheels via a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic. Offering generous overhangs and a plush suspension, the Gamma was certainly roomy inside, but not as wide as its German and French rivals, and delivered 140bhp in top trim. The lack of a V6 or something bigger certainly hurt the Lancia’s export prospects, especially at a time when the BMW 7 Series E23 and Mercedes-Benz S-Class W116 offered a lot more power, but the truth is, Gamma was really a gamer. mainly only in the southern European market, competing with the Citroën CX, Peugeot 604 and Alfa Romeo Alfa 6.
Unlike the other cars on this list (especially the Germans), less than 16,000 units of the Gamma Berlina were produced during its model run, making it an unusually low effort from what was otherwise a manufacturer. mass automobile.
The story behind this Lancia is quite prosaic: a British customer ordered a Gamma Berlina 2500 with right-hand drive from a dealer in Turin while working in Italy. The dealership took delivery of the car, and then … couldn’t locate the customer who ordered it. The car therefore sat in the back of the workshop for 38 years instead of being resold, possibly because the dealership was in Turin and the car was right-hand drive.
When the current shipper bought the Gamma in 2014, the car still had 16 miles on the odometer, but its 2.5-liter flat-four engine had been replaced by the dealer with a 2.0-liter flat-four. . This was probably done because the dealership needed a new 2.5L for another car and decided to cannibalize the Gamma’s needed unit as it wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
The shipper who bought the Gamma in 2014, undertook return-to-service work on the car, intending to make it a working example after 38 years of non-use, and had purchased a good 2.5-liter voucher in the Netherlands to trade in. Needless to say, this was not the only job done as the car had been sitting for so long, with the final tally of the work done taking 600 hours, all detailed for a hardcover book that will be included with the car. The renovations included a full exterior paint, as the paint had apparently not held up well to life in the workshop for 38 years.
The car currently displays 79 miles, after a test drive for Auto Italy magazine, and received a near-perfect pre-auction status report. The only items removed were for the replacement engine the car needed, after losing its original engine.
How do you value something as unique as this?
Perhaps most will tend to agree that despite the odometer reading 79 miles, some of the originality was lost when the car ditched its engine, and also when it needed a new paint job, although we cannot blame the sender for the latter. Even if the car had kept its original engine and paintwork, it might still be silly to continue to preserve more mileage. It is certainly rare, with an interesting history, but to continue not to drive it to preserve it “for the next guy”, or some future event after which Lancia Gammas will become absurdly valuable overnight, like a cryptocurrency, is perhaps too much of restraint.
There’s a reason right-hand drive Gammas aren’t worth much today in the UK or elsewhere – they’re not particularly valuable or collectible, although rare – and plenty of it. between them perished before the 1990s. So preserving it and letting it accumulate more dust may be bad for a number of reasons.
What such a car would have The offer is a trip to the 1970s for a Lancia enthusiast, given its seemingly new interior and exterior. He would certainly feel right at home in the background of a period movie, or like a summer runabout in the UK if he ends up staying in the country.
Visit the auction site to consult the complete list of lots and the detailed auction calendar.
Would you be free to add miles to this Lancia, or should it be kept as is? Let us know in the comments below.
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