Welcome back Lancia, sorry, Chrysler

Keith Adams

Chrysler Delta

Chrysler Delta

I’m a Lancia fan so it was with mixed emotions that I greeted the news that the Delta’s finally coming back to the UK after being off the price lists for 17 years. I’ve liked the Delta ever since I saw the first Hans G. Lehmann scoop shots in CAR Magazine back in 1978, finding the Giugiaro-styled hatchback agreeably similar in style to a five-door VW Scirocco. Anyway, when the Delta arrived on the market, it was priced at a premium, up-trimmed and targeted at buyers who wanted a smaller hatchback, but still wanted the luxury and status of larger car.

Something like a Rover…

The Delta lasted until 1994 in the UK when the Integrale went out of production, but a Mk2 Tipo-based model remained on sale in Europe, continuing the original car’s proclivity for luxury wood and leather. There’s more to Lancia than the Delta, of course, but as far as the UK public is concerned, this is what Lancia is known for.

Unfortunately, for anyone a little older, it’ll be rust…

Fiat was, no doubt, mindful of that and so, when the company got into bed with Chrysler in 2009, it cooked up a plan to export Lancias to the USA, rebranded with Pentagons on the bonnet. Not a bad plan, given the uselessness of small US-built and designed Chryslers, and at the same time sending a little prestige and European flair Stateside.

The 2008 Delta is exactly the car Rover should be building now – avant garde styling, plush interior and, most importantly, it makes a big statement about its nationality. That’s why we like the Delta here at AROnline.

It’s great news to hear that it’s coming to the UK in June. Okay, it’s not wearing a Lancia badge, but we can live with the Chrysler badge given that we have rather a lot of the company’s older products here already. We’ll also be getting the new, Fiat 500-based Ypsilon, which is another great potential Rover – and a very different story to the MG3 and MG6.

It’s a shame they’re not going all out for a little irony combined with class by calling the new Chrysler duo the Sunbeam and Horizon. Hey, though, we can but dream…

And.. the Lancia Delta

And.. the Lancia Delta

Posted in: AROnline Blogs
Keith Adams

About the Author:

Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and watched it steadily grow into AROnline. Is the Editor of Classic Car Weekly, and has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, Classic Car Weekly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, and the the Motoring Independent... Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasable adventures all across Europe.

30 Comments on "Welcome back Lancia, sorry, Chrysler"

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  1. Andrew Elphick says:

    Will Chrysler be able to use the Delta name in the USA though? Surely that was an Oldsmobile moniker over there?

    Keith, give us another picture (black preferably) of the Delta – that must be one of the worst angles! Fit and finish-wise they are a premium product (although, like the Bravo and Croma, they have an overtly wide dash that impinges on the knee room) and deserve to do well.

    How will Chrysler’s currently woeful Dealer Network cope though? Some are still embarrasingly tucked into Mercedes dealerships at present…

  2. Johnos1984 says:

    I know this sounds a bit stupid but I would actually be more likely to buy the car if it had a Lancia badge on the front.

    The Chrysler cars over the past few years have been poor (excluding the 300C) and it’s them I think of now when I think of the marque.

    Mind you, if I could swap the badges and the grille for Lancia items, that might change things

  3. Keith Adams Keith Adams says:

    The grille looks interchangeable :).

  4. Andrew Elphick says:

    She does doesn’t she?

  5. DaveH says:

    Sorry, but the Chrysler and Lancia versions of the Fiat Bravo are bloody ugly.

  6. Jonathan Carling Jonathan Carling says:

    Fiat’s strategy is certainly worth a try and quite low risk – no need for a new Dealer Network, new brand promotion etc. The Delta’s a nice car and should sell at the right price. Chryslers are quite good value in the UK.

    I wonder if the Delta, an aspirational premium product in Italy, will be sold at a premium price here with a Chrysler badge.

    This reminds me a lot of selling Daewoos as Chevrolets – a badge that seemed out of character at first, but which seems to fit well a few years on. I guess that, if Chrysler works on Lancias, MG could be made to work on SAIC Motor products!

  7. Ayd says:

    Looks good in the metal… Oh, and the Delta’s not bad either.

  8. Simon Hodgetts says:

    I’m sorry Fiat/Chrysler but I totally disagree with your decision.

    Look, if you don’t want to use the Lancia badge, fine, then call the new Delta the Fiat Croma, but at least keep an Italian brand on the car. Don’t use Chrysler, whose products are some of the least desirable on UK roads today – 300C Touring? Yeah right, I like driving around in a hearse!

    I’d love to own a Lancia – have done since I was a lad – so, when my Alfa 156 is up for replacement, I’d be tempted by a Delta – as long as it had a Lancia grille and badge kit supplied with it!

  9. Hilton Davis says:

    Wasn’t the Lancia Delta featured in the Tom Hanks movie Angels and Demons ? I seem to remember seeing it in black like this photo. I agree with Keith – it is an appealing looking car design and one that Rover would have been fortunate to emulate… It would have been good to see the Lancia badge back in the UK.

  10. Ajax Soixantedix says:

    I can’t see how putting a Chrysler badge on UK-bound Deltas can possibly be seen as preferable to a Lancia badge – Italians and car enthusiasts everywhere must be in despair!

    The Delta looks far too imaginative and sophisticated (et ergo Lancia) to ever be an American production car. Think about it – does the Delta really look like it has been designed, engineered and built to the lowest common denominator? No, of course not.

    It saddens me to think that people might remember how rusty Lancias were 20-30 years ago more than how rubbish American cars are now. It wasn’t just the financial crisis that did for the US car industry; it was the product as well.

  11. Johnos1984 says:

    @Keith Adams
    I hope so – I had said it would be on the shopping list before Fiat pulled the plug on the Lancia comeback. Admittedly, something Italian is on it now but Chrysler cars are a poor relation of everything.

    Oh, and as for Daewoos badged as Chevrolets, my God, I still laugh when I hear someone tell me proudly they have a Chevrolet. They completely wrecked the image by not launching the brand with a new range of products – Chevrolet Matiz or Lacitty anyone?

  12. Keith Adams :
    The grille looks interchangeable .

    I’m sure they pretty much will be in the same way that Vauxhalls and Opels are.

    Yeah, I like the Lancia Delta but I’m against the idea of Fiat importing them rebadged as Chryslers. I would change the grille to one with the Lancia badges on as they should be if I did buy a Delta.

  13. Simon Hodgetts says:

    @Ajax Soixantedix
    You got that right!

  14. Gompo says:

    I’ve posted this on another site but still…

    I’d like an old school Lancia here – I don’t really like the new Delta (in the pics anyway) but do like the current Ypsilon and the Thesis.

    I don’t mind an Americanised Chrysler. The 300C attracts some idiots but I think they’re nice looking cars. I didn’t mind the Crossfire in the looks department either.

    I definitely do NOT want an amalgamation of the two – it’s already messy and will probably get worse.

  15. Dean Beedell says:

    I saw some of these Lancia Deltas on a parking lot in Sicily and my goodness they are ugly! The front lights/grille are a terrible design failure and will put the majority off buying one.

    They also seemed tinny and fragile, just like all the Italian cars I have owned. I remember thinking that, if they ever land on British soil, they’ll need a facelift before anyone will take them seriously.

  16. Vie says:

    Argh, why don’t they do the sensible thing and re-brand it as the Chrysler Airflow?

    The modern Delta is… well, let’s just say it’s not exactly in the same driving fun league as its illustrious ancestor according to people who’ve tried it. Call it the Delta and you’ll get some unfortunate comparisons with its ancestor. However, call it the Airflow and you have a chance to advertise Chrysler’s history of being at the forefront of tech – the original was a technological tour de force in its time.

    Currently US cars in Europe seem to be regarded as re-branded Korean cast-offs or archaically engineered dinosaurs. Point out Chrysler’s history of high technology, even if it’s hardly the case these days, and you’ve potentially got a Skoda-like conversion of a brand’s failings into a major plus.

  17. Jonathan Carling Jonathan Carling says:

    Chrysler seemed to have dropped the PT Cruiser… to be replaced by the Lancia Delta??? How very bizarre!

  18. Andrew Elphick says:

    Jonathan Carling :Chrysler seemed to have dropped the PT Cruiser… to be replaced by the Lancia Delta??? How very bizarre!

    There will be hell on the Country and Western Internet fora…

  19. Will says:

    @Jonathan Carling
    The PT Cruiser – A “lifestyle” vehicle which appeared to have been based on the FX4 taxi…

  20. Jemma says:


    Oh, but the most depressing part is that the FX4 is worlds more attractive than that “thing”. I understand it’s going to be called the Chrysler 200 in the US – I just hope it stays there…

    Mind you, the lass is pretty – she was probably stationed there to take people’s eyes off the car before they melted…

  21. Jemma says:

    It’s like badging a Fiat Strada as a Ferrari…

  22. KenS Ken Strachan says:

    There was a Delta parked outside our hotel in the South of France last year and, although rather large, it looked better in the metal than it does in pictures. Not as good, though, as the R8-214 parked around the corner.

    Andrew Elphick: GM’s US trade mark “Delta 88” is defunct. I am sure Chrysler would have checked on this. Michael Edwardes got a “Gentleman’s Agreement” from Ford to use Montego.

    Oh, and as for the beauty in silver, she must be hot to have to wear a dress made from a heat shield. I would love to ask her whether the Delta door mirror really ate her right sleeve.

  23. Dan says:

    I do like the Delta and saw quite a few in Sicily last year together with loads of Ypsilons. I think it would be a reasonable seller in the UK especially as it avoids the “folk memory” of rust associated with the Lancia name. The Ypsilon looks very “classy” too.

    I personally hope that the Delta will show up Citroen and Renault for their current, horribly timid and boring C4/Megane potboiler designs in the same market segment.

  24. I like the new Delta. It’s smart, classy and distinctive – as is the Ypsilon. However, I really can’t fathom out why Fiat should believe that British buyers would prefer a Chrysler over a Lancia. More fool Fiat.

  25. Dave Hargrove says:

    What is it with the people of this country? Yes, nostalgia is a good thing and something I enjoy, but we don’t half take it too far. Yes, brands like Jaguar, Lancia and Lotus have strong values and heritage and there are some things that just should not be changed.

    However, we have to face facts. Lancia stopped selling cars in this country because they started rotting before they even left the factory (not even a Marina can hold a candle to them) and, if they did return as Lancias, their sales figures would make depressing reading for most fans as many people wouldn’t buy them due to this stigma, so this is a perfectly logical solution.

    Why? Well, there are (conveniently) synergies between the two brands in terms of design while Chrysler is weak in Europe and Lancia is in the UK, so this is the best solution. Anyway, it’s not as if the Delta is a true Lancia – we have to bear in mind that it is a Fiat Bravo under the skin, so please don’t let die-hard enthusiasts spoil the reputation of what could be a very competent car.

    Oh, by the way, these recent Lancias (what with their fancy colours, plush cabins etc.) would make ideal Wolseleys..!

  26. LanciaLad says:

    Surely it would have made more sense to have joint branded Lancia-Chrysler dealerships Europe-wide? In a lot of countries Chrysler outsells Lancia, which is not that popular anywhere outside Italy. Those after a stylish hatch buy the Lancia and those after a big MPV buy the Chrysler. In the UK, I feel we would actually be more likely to buy a Lancia-badged Delta than a Chrysler. The mighty American marque only sold 50 odd cars in jan 2011. We Brits seem to be buying less Chryslers than ever. I fear Fiat is making a big mistake.

  27. Lancia Delta HF turbo driver says:

    I have to agree with a lot on here, there is no way the Chrysler brand is seen as a luxury or premium brand in the UK. FIAT for goodness sake just let it come with the right badging & sell them along side FIATs (same runnning gear, same servicing etc)in the same dealerships, you’ll find people will buy it as a Lancia, all you’re going to do is find a huge market for people wanting to buy the right grille and badging to replace the Chrysler ones! Perhaps you could just offer them as a free replacement for people lol C’mon FIAT don’t be daft, you’re making a huge mistake here! Just remember the “Lancia Delta” brand still has a great pull after these years… remember the “rally-god”? The HF Integrale?!

  28. amedeo says:

    For some reason Lancia was disgraced in the UK, even though it was technologically exciting and ahead of it’s time. The UK market is not advanced, it appreciates Safe, Trusty, Stable and frankly boring cars. This is pretty much what Chrysler offers as a marque, German cars are popular here for the same reason, even though they break down with consistency worthy of LADA. I agree with Fiat logic, the new Lancia’s are not mature yet, but they will i hope start to bring in Delta, Stratos, fulvia etc, which i suspect will not be sold in the UK.

  29. Jeremy says:

    I am showing my age.
    I used to have a Lancia Delta HF turbo.
    Yes the body was a bit flaky…as were the electrics…but it taught me how to drive.
    I mean really drive.
    The BMW 323 E30 that followed it was a big backward step.
    When I asked how much to insure an integrale they insurance company just laughed.
    I would have another Lancia in a heartbeat…but not with a Chrysler badge on the front.
    Any how, after top gear ran a show explaining who and what Lancia were, they would sell like hot cakes.

  30. Will M says:

    So, Fiat are going to axe Lancia across Europe, leave it Italy-only (like Autobianchi and Innocenti), and axe the Delta leaving it with only the Ypsilon.

    No word on the fate of the 300 (Thesis), Voyager or 200 cabrio (Flavia) – whether these are to be named Chrysler in Europe, or simply stop getting sold.

    In the UK/Ireland, this will likely leave the Chrysler range without the 2 imported Lancia models.
    The slow selling but impressive looking 300, and the Apprentice and corporate airport shuttle favourite Voyager.

    Jeep are selling well, given the UK’s love affair with SUVs.

    The Punto is also to be axed, one can be had for cheaper than a 500 or Panda at the right dealers. To be replaced by a 5 door 500 (cf. 5 door MINI)

    The Panda and 500 ranges to be build in Eastern Europe incl. Poland – leaving Italy building the ‘luxury’ marques – Maserati, Ferrari, Alfa Romeo.

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