Launched in 1976, the two-box Lancia Gamma replaced both the Flavia and the Fiat 130. The car utilised a specially designed 2.5 litre flat four with either carburettors or fuel injection, which gave the car a poor reputation which though remedied for the Series 2 stayed with the car for life.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
At the risk of unearthing a particularly old chestnut and voicing the opinion which effectively killed Lancia for the UK market, 1970s Lancias were known for rusting. Lancia was bought in 1969 by the FIAT group, and as such used the same supply of steel as FIAT did. This steel was acquired in exchange for the rights to the FIAT 124 design, productionised in the Tolyatti factory as the AvtoVaz Lada. The steel received, however, was of poor quality – leading to rust issues. Check every potential purchase closely, for there is potential for problems galore. Rear arches are a known weak spot, as are the sills. Coupes have a litany of issues all of their own, including the rear panel and the base of the rear screen. Headlamps are no longer available, and the quality of the silvering was pretty poor. The only solution is to have the headlamp bowls re-silvered, which necessitates removing the bonded headlamp glasses.
A specially-designed 2.5 litre flat four (Though there was a tax-break 2.0 available for the Italian market), the Gamma’s engine is possibly the weakest part of the whole design. Known for overheating, cam wear, and significant oil leaks, early cars were full of potential problems. The later, fuel injected Series 2 cars were far better in this respect, and we advise you try to find one of those. Rare though – so it will take time! Tappets are a good clue as to cam wear – the loud ones tend to be problem cars. Also check the oil pressure, as the anti-freeze mixture has been known to mix with the oil and thus reduce the ability of the oil to lubricate the big ends and main bearings – not a clever design feature.
Water pumps are not available new, but perhaps surprisingly all the Bosch electrical engine ancillaries are known for being robust. Starter motors, alternators and the like should give no problems. Owners don’t report any issues with the drivetrain as a whole, although spares in the UK will be rare – it’s thus crucial to check the condition of everything.
Plastic and cloth might seem less expensive than wood and leather, but they have their own issues. The L cloth is available but expensive, and that’s if you can find it in the first place! Some had leather, so a leather retrim might be wise for cars mid-restoration. Be careful with the plastic trim – plastic dried out with age and may crack if disturbed. Coupe headlinings can sag, and whilst they can be re-covered, the one piece headlining board is difficult to remove from the car.
A fastback without a hatchback, the Berlina is certainly an attractively styled car – in black, the Mafia dons from the Italian Job could have been persuaded to trade in their Dinos! That isn’t the only one – the Coupe is if anything even more handsome! It’s an Italianite saloon or Coupe with space for the family – and you won’t see one every day! Get a good one, and keep it nice, and you’ll have a rare and lovely car which can only appreciate as time goes by.