Lancia & C. Fabbrica Automobili was founded on 29 November 1906 in Turin, by Fiat racing drivers Vincenzo Lancia and his friend, Claudio Foglin. The first car manufactured by Lancia was the Tipo 51 or 12 HP, later called Alfa, which remained in production from 1907 to 1908. It had a small four-cylinder engine with a power output of 28hp.
Lancia is renowned in the automotive world for its innovative cars. The Theta first manufactured in 1913 was the first European production car to feature a complete electrical system as standard. The Lambada produced in 1922 was the first car to adopt a monocoque chassis featuring a slider pillar independent front suspension incorporating the spring and hydraulic damper into a single unit – a feature that would be employed in subsequent Lancia’s, up to the Appia in 1963. Series 3 Ardea in 1948 was the first 5-speed gearbox to be fitted to a production car. The 1950 Aurelia premiered the first full-production V6 engine, after earlier industry-leading experiments with V8 and V12 engine configurations.
This drive for innovation, constant quest for excellence, fixation of quality, complex construction processes and antiqued production machinery meant all cars essentially had to be hand-made. With little commonality between the various models, the cost of production continued to increase extensively, while demand did not, eventually affecting Lancia’s viability.
In 1969 Fiat launched a take-over bid, which was accepted by Lancia. However, this was not the end of the distinctive Lancia marque, with new models in the 1970s including the Stratos, Gamma and Beta served to prove that Fiat wished to preserve the image of the brand it had acquired.
During the 1970s, 80s and early 90s, Lancia had great success in rallying, winning many World Rally Championships. Prior to the forming of the World Rally Championship (WRC), Lancia took the final International Championship for Manufacturers title with the Fulvia in 1972. In the WRC, they remain the most statistically successful marque, despite having withdrawn at the end of the 1993 season, winning constructors’ titles with the Stratos 1974 -76, the 037 in 1983 and the Delta with six consecutive wins from 1987 to 1992. The Delta is also the most successful individual model designation ever to compete in rallying. All this gave Lancia a total of 11 Championships over the years.