30 Sep THE RESURRECTION FROM THE DOLDRUMS
THE RESURRECTION FROM THE DOLDRUMS
October 31, 2020 Gaetano | Sydney (Australia)
The story of the long lost Lancia Prisma began with the search for a project car after a very long hiatus of not been able to enjoy the real feeling of driving pleasure that I enjoyed many years ago. Watching many car shows and seeing old cars being restored to their original glory set me on a quest.
PERMANENTLY IN LOVE
My love for the classic Italian autos began when our neighbour, who was my
fathers friend and boss bought an Alfetta sedan Quadrifoglio Oro. I volunteered to wash the car whenever an opportunity came so I could sit in it a feel what it would be like to drive an Italian car. My father, who also loved classic autos bought and sold many cars while living in Australia where the rivalry for either Fords or Holdens (GM) with their big V8 engines were the go. I loved the noise of the classic American muscle V8’s and their appearance but was too young to understand that these cars were fast but couldn’t handle like European sedans.
In 1984 my family moved back to Italy and it began…hot hatches, sedans and scooters. When I got my driver’s license, I began driving an Autobianchi A112 Abarth and fell in love. Small hatch with a lot of power and the handling…that’s another discussion. After spending 2 years in Italy and driving many makes and models from Fiat 127, Alfa Sud, Lancia Flavia just to name a few, I knew what I wanted to drive one day. During these years, many models were released from Ferraris 288 GTO, F40, Porsche 959, Alfa 75, Fiat Uno Turbo, Golf GTI, 205 GTI, Renault 5 turbo and the famous Lancia Delta…what an era.
BACK IN AUSTRALIA
1986 I find myself back in Australia and immediately bought my first car. A Fiat 128 4 door sedan as a daily driver. Then came my first Alfa, a 1979 Alfetta sedan 2lt purchased in 1988. This was my first real attempt to get into restoration and what a job it was. This was my first into Italian motoring. Wind the clock forward 30+ years and after owning many Alfas from a 1990 Giulietta, 3 x 75’s, 164, 90, 156, 147 and other makes and models in between, I needed another challenge. I started to search the net for an old Italian classic and see what was affordable to restore. Many makes and models came up but the asking prices for some of these cars were ridiculously high and out of my budget, then something came up which caught my attention. Lancia Prisma for sale in Australia.
I had to take a better look as the Prisma was never offered on our shores. Back in 1980’s, a couple of Prisma’s were sent Australia by Fiat for evaluation and see if it could be homologated for the local market, but due to very strict regulations, Fiat chose the Regata instead…what a mistake! To my surprise, a private import from the UK was stored in a shed with many other selected models for about 14 years and parked but in original condition. Rust riddles due to its time in the UK but it had great history. 1 owner with original books, documentation from new with 43k miles. I thought it was too good to be true so I investigated further and chased the vehicle down and inspected it and I decided then and there that she was coming home to me. 2018 the car made its way to my son’s workshop for a full body restoration. All the rust was cut out, removed and replaced where possible, as new parts for this car were not readily available but with the power ebay I sourced parts from Italy, UK and also locally.
2 years later and a hefty bill, the car was resurrected from the doldrums. The next visit was the mechanic where it was given a total check up with new timing belt, clutch kit, hoses, plugs, leads and anything it needed to get it back as it was from the factory. I managed to find a set of new “old” stock Speedline wheels and a new set of Pirelli tyres fitted. The interior was in pretty good order but needed a steam clean and detail as the Zegna fabric used by Lancia needed to be protected as its practically irreplaceable. The final result speaks for itself as it now looks like it rolled off the showroom floor. Everyone that has seen it absolutely loves it! Many who know the all conquering Lancia Delta see the similarity as this sedan was introduced in the mid 80’s to compete with the likes of BMW, Volvo, Mercedes and Audi.
In right hand drive there are possibly a handful are left in the UK, if any according to the registration database and maybe one or two here in the southern hemisphere, do a rare and collectable model for the purists. Due to Covid 19, I haven’t had the opportunity to display it at classic car shows, club meets but have taken the opportunity to use social media, dedicated sites and local meetings to show her off too much delight. Hopefully when we can congregate with other car enthusiast, I hope to share her with like minded enthusiast. Enjoy
Images courtesy of Gaetano Florio