Join Date: Aug 2006
I've gone for Cool. I wish I'd gone for sub-zero now. I just want that recording.
Although both body styles were designed by Pininfarina, only the coupe was assembled on the Pininfarina production line (alongside the Ferrari 400), the saloon being a purely Lancia-built product.
A note on reliability...
Gammas have an unenviable reputation when it comes to their toothed camshaft drive belt, and not without reason! The camshaft serving the nearside (left- hand) pair of cylinders also drives the power steering pump. A lack of development, in early cars in particular, showed itself when unsuspecting owners would start their Gammas on a cold morning with the steering on full lock. This would cause the cambelt to break / jump with the load from the steering pump, resulting in one pair of cylinders firing-up whilst the other pair tried to destroy themselves, at the least causing bent valves. Later models have revised belt tensioners, but are still known to suffer from this problem.
The solution? At the least, it is a good precaution to park leaving the steering in the straight-ahead position. Cam belts should be changed regularly. A special tool is available for hire from the Lancia Motor Club tool library. Lancia recommended every 36,000 miles or 3 years, but considering the relatively low cost of a pair of new belts (about £25-30), many owners change them every 12,000 or even 9,000 miles. The only positive way to solve the problem is to move the pump to the front of the engine and to take its drive from the crankshaft pulley (using the pulley groove intended for the air conditioning pump). A cheaper, less technically elegant, possibility is to slacken off the 'V' drive belts to the steering pump, causing them to slip under load. Hardly entirely satisfactory, but if it saves your engine...?
All Gammas need a good quality oil and it needs to be changed regularly. Most engine parts do not wear prematurely, but one exception is the camshaft lobes. When the engine is stationary, oil will drain from the camshaft into the sump, and there is a delay when re-starting the engine before lubrication returns. A synthetic or semi-synthetic oil is preferable, as it has a greater film strength, and should be changed, with a new filter, every 6,000 miles. If a mineral oil is used, it should be changed every 3,000 miles.
Another common Gamma ailment lies in the cooling system, as overheating and head gasket failures can recur frequently. The use of cast iron liners with an alloy block is not uncommon, but in the case of the Gamma, the liners tend to 'sink' into the alloy of the block, causing gasket failure. This can occur not only at the head / block joint but also at the paper gasket joint at the base of the cylinder liners, allowing water into the sump. The usual signs are loss of water, often gradual at first, and a milky residue on the oil filler cap (although the latter can be caused by condensation within the sump in cars that have only short runs and do not warm-up fully).