The road to Amelia Island is a calm, gentle drive, tracing the Florida coastline and rolling past pretty wooden beachside properties. Pelicans perch motionless atop pontoon posts, the water is calm, and 99.9 Gator Country is playing. The calm doesn’t last.
Waiting on a disused runway at Fernandina Municipal Airport are six of the wildest race and rally machines ever to roll out of Lancia. Some, such as the Delta S4, are infamous for being fire-spitting animals that pushed even the most talented drivers to, and tragically beyond, their limits. Others, notably the LC2, displayed dazzling speed and promise that would go unfulfilled.
They are cars from a time when Lancia provided motor sport fans with the sights, sounds and smells that remained embedded in their memories long after the Italian car maker as good as disappeared. Seeing them together serves up a snapshot of Lancia’s success in rallying and motor racing during the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s. Yet it also paints a picture of a company that found itself pushed around by parent Fiat, leaving key figures like Cesare Fiorio, the brand’s motor sport master, to skilfully steer Lancia around obstacles and uphold its reputation.