I’m 100 percent certain that Eugenio Amos, the millionaire racing driver behind the Lancia Delta Futurista, isn’t lying awake at night waiting for my thoughts on his new creation.
I’m also acutely aware of the advice given by Thumper, who said: “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.” But here’s the thing, the ‘reimagined’ Lancia Delta for a new generation has left me feeling a little cold.
It should present a reason to be cheerful. Like so many of us, I grew up watching the Martini-striped Deltas dominating world rallying – my school textbooks were wrapped in action photos cut from the pages of whatever motoring weekly I happened to be reading.
While school friends worshipped at the feet of Gary Lineker, Paul Gascoigne and Peter Beardsley, my gods were Juha Kankkunen, Didier Auriol and Miki Biasion. Lancia, and in particular the Delta HF Integrale, could do no wrong.
Back in 2010, I wrote an open letter to Lancia, begging for its return to the UK. Three years later, I came over all misty-eyed when reminiscing about my father’s Lancia 2000 Sedan. The fact is, I love Lancia.
So why, then, am I so nonplussed about the Automobili Amos Lancia Delta Futurista?
Eugenio Amos talks a good talk. “This car means a lot to me,” he says. “It represents my romantic vision in a world that is too aseptic, too fast, that runs like the wind, superficial and intangible.
“This car means that I had enough of the car world, both as a client before and as a manufacturer now.”
He goes on to recall his childhood, echoing the kind of nostalgic thoughts we all have when remembering the cars from our youth. “I chose the Delta because it’s the car that made me fall in love with cars in the first place.
“I was 7 years old. My father had a beautiful Giallo Ginestra. I don’t know why but it made me feel special. Those memories are made of smells, of that soft Alcantara touch, of confused noises.”
It’s a romantic vision. But is a reimagining of the past really such a good idea? The Lancia Delta Integrale was right then, but this is now. Time has moved on. Isn’t it better to remember the car at its peak, surrounded not by the whiff of nostalgia, but by the rich aroma of its present?
A 330hp, 1,250kg 2018 Delta Integrale might sound good on paper – a new Ford Focus RS is slightly more powerful but tips the scales at 1,569kg – but the reality looks a little odd – almost cartoon-like. The front end wouldn’t look out of place in Grand Theft Auto Vice City, as a kind of pastiche of a box-arched rally hero. Crank up the Jan Hammer and head to Ocean Bay Marina.
It’s all a bit mock Tudor. A bit too Cheshire. A hint of fake news.
Maybe it’s of its time. More Brexit than brilliant. More Trump than triumphant. I want to love it – and my thoughts carry little weight – I’m just unable to get beyond ‘meh’.
The fact that 15 Delta Integrale 16Vs will be sacrificed in the name of the Futurista doesn’t help matters. They might be “much cheaper than the mythical Evoluzione models”, but why should they be mutilated to satisfy one man’s flight of fancy?
Let’s remember, the Delta Integrale was built for homologation purposes. Almost everything about it was designed or created to make the car go faster, to save weight or to maintain Lancia’s dominance of world rallying.
The Delta Futurista is a little OTT – trying too hard to impress. What’s with the three-door conversion? It makes the profile look a bit imbalanced. Does the car need a rear diffuser? And brown Alcantara might work in a Thema 8.32 restomod, but it doesn’t belong in an Integrale.
We live in strange times. Not content with the ways of the modern world, people with deep pockets are willing to spend big money on cars to take them on a trip down memory lane. ‘Barn-finds’, 80s classics, restomods – our antidotes for the drudgery of modern motoring.
It’s no coincidence that as our cars get more sterile and our involvement in the driving experience decreases, our longing for simpler times grows ever stronger. Singer, Eagle and now Automobili Amos – these companies will take you back to the future, for a price.
A Lancia Delta Futurista costs €300,000, in case you were wondering.
I have no doubt that the Lancia Delta Futurista will be well-crafted and will almost certainly be a good steer – Automobili Amos has put a huge amount of time and effort into the engine, suspension and electronics. But the smells, purity, confused noises and, perhaps most importantly, the authenticity Eugenio Amos is searching for may have been lost in translation.
I leave you with this video, which showcases all that was right about Lancia. If this doesn’t stir your soul, nothing will.
As for restomodding and reimagining, until somebody creates a modern Matra Rancho, I’ll remain unconvinced.