MajorGav, PetrolBlog, The Interweb, UK.Lancia, Fiat Group Automobiles Corso G. Agnelli 200, 10135 Torino Italia
24th June 2010
Today was Alfa Romeo’s 100th Birthday. A day of real celebration for petrolheads around the world. A chance to applaud a back catalogue that contains many a great car. The beautifully ugly SZ. The elegant 164 Cloverleaf. The touring car inspired 155 Silverstone. The tin-wormed challenged but brilliant Alfasud. The Giulietta. The GTV. The Montreal. I could go on, but you know the score. We forgive the reliability issues and the questionable build quality because deep down, an Alfa Romeo makes us feel happy. And we like that.
But the happiness is tinged with a certain sadness. There’s something missing in the UK. A big hole in our popular culture since the mid-nineties. No, I’m not talking about the break up of New Kids on the Block or when Dale Winton left Supermarket Sweep. No, I’m talking about the day you walked, or rather drove out of the UK and haven’t been back since.
Sure, you’ve stood across the Channel and tempted us with your current range of models, but really, do you honestly think we’re going to be content with a left-hand drive Musa or Ypsilon. And I wouldn’t be seen Phed in a Phedra. You may compare it to a private jet, but surely that’s missing the point. When I buy a Lancia, I want to feel a connection to the road, not to air traffic control.
And don’t get me started on the Delta. You can’t really launch a new Delta and not bring it over to Blighty. Remember the adoring fans stood freezing cold awaiting a glimpse of the legendary Integrale as it hurtled through the Welsh forests? We want you back. Want you back. Want you back for good.
And don’t worry Lancia, we forgive you for your sins. Nobody really remembers the hideous build quality of the Beta. Everyone’s also forgotten about the crass Beta Coupe Hi-Fi. There’s not even a recollection of the electrical gremlins that haunted your owners in the 1980s. Time’s a great healer in the UK. And Esther Rantzen is no longer presenting That’s Life.
The format has even gone, being replaced by a show called Watchdog, which is presented by the lovely, patient and understanding Anne Robinson. So come back to the UK, there’ll be a big welcome mat rolled out at Dover. We remember the good times. The Stratos. The Monte Carlo. The Thema 8.32. The Integrale. The Fulvia.
Oh yeah, the Fulvia. So what has happened to the Fulvia Concept that you promised the world in 2003? Did you go to Frankfurt merely to make empty promises? Take one very long look at the image you see below and I challenge you not to start dribbling. Do it, Lancia. You know you want to. There’d be a queue of buyers far longer than the queue of complaints you used to receive in the 1980s.
So Lancia, raise a glass to Alfa Romeo this evening. But when you’ve finished your drink, get back to doing what you do best and that’s making gloriously evocative sports cars that stir the soul and lift the spirits. But just as importantly, make sure you bring these cars over to these shores. We miss you, Lancia. Please come back.
Yours forever hoping,