Revered by faithful enthusiasts, Lancia is nonetheless virtually unknown to most Americans. The Italian automaker’s mechanical designs were either innovative or weird, depending on your perspective. The Lancia Stratos rally car from the 1970s still turns heads for its outrageous looks and performance, which made it more like a street-going UFO than just another car. And the pretty little Fulvia coupe had front-wheel drive and a diminutive V-4 under the hood, but it could run circles around larger and more powerful cars.
Our eBay Find of the Week is this 1978 Lancia Gamma Coupe, a larger luxury car which was front-wheel-drive and sported a 2.5-liter, horizontally-opposed four-cylinder engine. This isn’t what you’d expect from an Italian car in the ’70s, but just look at it. Designed by Pininfarina, it is the epitome of sharp-edged styling. Even the concave trunk lid foretells some celebrated Toyota designs of the mid-1980s.
The blue velour seats appear to be a cross between the Jetsons’ condominium and an exploding Herman Miller factory. The dash looks like a typical 1970s design, at least until you see that shift knob. Again, strange but compelling at the same time.
Owned by Fiat since 1969 and seemingly perpetually near bankruptcy, Lancia still managed to create some endearing and odd cars. How about Ferrari V-8-powered sedan built on a chassis designed with Saab. Yup, Lancia did that too (look up the Thema). Perhaps it was the company’s insistence on unique designs and bespoke engines not shared with the rest of the Fiat range that caused the financial trouble, but you can’t argue that the results weren’t interesting.
The car we’re featuring today is exceedingly rare outside of Europe. While the asking price far exceeds those in the Hagerty Price Guide (the owner is asking nearly twice the listed No. 1-condition value of $16,300), it’s understandable. You won’t find another one like it.
The Lancia brand may be nearly finished as an Italy-only brand in a business environment less conducive to such things. So let’s enjoy the quirky details of a rare Lancia when we see one in the wild.