Sources at FCA say representations are being made at the highest levels to reinvent one of the company’s most evocative and highly regarded models. However, there is no suggestion that another attempt should be made to rebuild Lancia as a full-line brand in its own right.
In an industry that increasingly successfully trades on prestige and history, many FCA executives believe it would be a big mistake to allow the Lancia badge to be wound up when the Delta Integrale brand still holds so much cachet.
However, FCA boss Sergio Marchionne takes a very unsentimental view of the near-defunct Lancia brand and is much more interested in a successful relaunch of Alfa Romeo. He is likely to see even a single new Lancia model as an unnecessary distraction.
The Delta won 46 individual World Rally Championship events and six consecutive manufacturers’ titles, competing up until 1993.
However, what was then Fiat Auto decided that Lancia should be reinvented as an upmarket luxury brand, despite its competition successes, leaving the way open for Alfa Romeo to be the group’s sporting brand.
More than 20 years of attempts to respin Lancia as a ‘luxury’ brand (including the Delta Mk2 and Mk3 and the big Thesis executive car) have failed miserably.
The key to the Delta’s long-lived high profile lies in virtual reality. Although the very last Delta Integrale models were produced in 1994 (in ultimate HF Integrale 16v Evoluzione II form), the car has lived on in generations of computer games.
A number of historic Lancia models feature in the current Gran Turismo 6 game, including the Delta Integrale, an Integrale rally car, the Delta S4 and the Stratos.Two years ago, it was estimated that 100,000 people a day log on to play Gran Turismo online. This suggests that in the past 15 years or so, millions of people would have engaged virtually with the Delta in its many high-performance forms.
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