The Lancia Gamma 2500 Coupe
A Likeable Car, in the Lancia Tradition
AFTER driving Beta and Delta saloons carrying the famous Lancia badge I have remarked that, good or otherwise as they may be, they are not, in my opinion, true Lancias.
Everything changes and one does not expect to be able to buy a “modern Aurelia GTfrom the present-day Fiat-controlled Turinese Company, alas. However, the Gamma coupe I have been sampling over quite a big mileage, including using it as my back-up car on the RAC Brighton Run — except that, unlike selfish entrants whose towed trailers congest the route, the Lancia wont down by the alternative roads and was waiting for me in the Paddock from 9.30 a.m. — is a very reasonable substitute for the older cars of this individualistic Italian make: axis was intended w be. For it was conceived and built, from 1975, entirely as a Lancia, instead of being a FiaVLancia project, although they departed from tradition by calling in Pininfarina as the stylist. The individuality is there in some quantity — a 21/2-live very much over-square (102 x 76 ram, 2,484 c.c.) four-cylinder engine with a single overhead-camshaft for each pair of cylinders, belt-driven, driving the front wheels. There is independent suspension all round, by coil-spring struts, four-wheel disc-braking, with ventilated front discs, and ZF power-assisted steering. The lines of the coupe body are handsome and in no way obtrusive.
When we first sampled these Gamma saloons and coupes the comment was favourable, apart from noting scuttle shake, and when later I drove the Gamma saloon I liked it but thought Lancia had tried to putdown a little too much power (140 DIN b.h.p.) through those front wheels. What has been done since to improve the Gamma, I do not know. But it is now a very acceptable motor car. The unusual engine was at first criticised as noisy. Now it is reasonably quiet, and very smooth. It is a very “torquey” unit, too, pulling away in the higher gears from absurdly low speeds. It gives more than adequate performance, from very easy cruising speeds of 80 m.p.h. or more in fifth gear, to a top speed of around 120 m.p.h., with acceleration from rest to 60 m.p.h. in less than 91/2 sec. The engine peaks at 6,000 r.p.m. The scuttle shake remains, over bad roads, and dike car is asked to run at a ridiculously slow pace in too high a gear the slight vibration through the big steering wheel, that asks three turns lock-to-lock, is tremendously magnified — but you do not drive like that, do you? As a long-legged car for making light of great distances the Gamma is very good indeed. The seam are extremely comfortable. The gear-change is enjoyable, the lever slipping eagerly out of one gear and into another, aided by spring-loading to the centre of the gate, rather like the gear-change of the Aprilia. Reverse is easy to engage, opposite the fifth-speed position in the gate, but the lever then sends your left-hand dangerously close to the brake lever if this is “on”. The steering is light, accurate and responsive. The clutch is light, but one’s foot has to be parked under it. The gear ratios are well chosen for progressive acceleration and the brakes kill speed unobtrusively. Fast
cornering can be enjoyed with no apparent body roll or tyre howl. The once-noticeable front-end shimmy on deliberately quick bottom-gear take-off is no longer there, although on a slippery gradient even the Michelin XVS tyres would fail to kill whecIspin for a few yards. There is some wind nose at speed.
The facia is rather ordinary, with matching Veglia electronic speedometer and tachometer (traditionally failing to zero, as they read 10 m.p.h. and 500 r.p.m. respectivelywith the car and engine stationary!) flanked by square-shaped fuel (with warning light), heat, oil-level and oil-pressure gauges, which are, however, uncalibrated. The big dials contain warning-lights, including those for low brake-fluid level and worn front brake-pads. A set of six press-switches looks after rear fog-lamp, hazard-warning, front fog-lamps, interior light, rear-window demister and screen-wiper speed. The heater also has press-button controls, the switches labelled STOP, AIE, RESC., and SUN. which needs some understanding! There is also a horizontal slide control, which tends to slack off, under the vacuum actuation, soda two-speed fan. There recall manner of controllable vents, so that no-one should be uncomfortably hot or cold in a Ganuna. Full air-conditioner is available. There are three steering column sulk-controls, the r.h. ones for lighting and tum-indicators (correct, in my opinion, for a r.h.d. car:, the other for the screen wipe)wash, The indicator stalk tended to cancel a trifle too soon. A touch of luxury is provided by electric window-lifts, a key-locked fuel-filler flap, beneath which the screw-cap is sensibly angled, and an adjustable steering column. The big heavy doors have curiously-shaped interior handles with big angled-out grips to close them, somewhat clumsily; they stay open as required. The boot-lid is unlocked by key, this inserting below the lid, beside the “2500motif. The Gamma coupe has
its own “leather-bound’. instruction book. The rear-view mirror has a lever to select its non-dazzle position without altering the adjustment.
Interior stoma get consist of small bins down on the scuttle, a small open central well above the lidded smoker’s companion, this well containing a digital clock she setting of which can be inadvertently deranged by objects in this cubby, and a deep but too-shallow facia-cubby with a lock where one would expect to find a big drop-bin.
All-round vision is good and the body sills and wheels-hubs are such that they do not easily pick up mud. In the four lower gears this Lancia Gamma coupe will do 33, 55, 79, and 101 mphwithout over-revving.
The suspension is on the hard side, with some back-end kick-up, but even on rough roads the ride remains comfortable. Minor details are that the deep sun-vizors are spring-loaded to retain them against the roof, inconvenient when they are required to be fully-extended, and that the front seats slide forward as the squabs are inclined to provide easy access to the rear compartment. One sits unusually low in the Gamma, with the nis wing invisible to the average driver. The front-seat squabs are adjusted by conveniently-placed micrometer-knobs and when the doors are shut the squabs are automatically locked in position. The seat head-restraints can be raised or lowered. A switch on the central console operates the radio aerial. The fast and enjoyable Gamma gave 24.3 m.p.g. of 4-star petrol over a big and varied mileage.
The front-hinged bonnet lid is self-supporting but the impressive light-alloy “boxer” engine M largely buried beneath the big air-cleaner for the Weber carburation, etc. No oil had been consumed in over 1,050 miles. The prices high, at £10,500, but the car is an outstandineY satisfactory one for Lancia ‘Ins”. — W.B.