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Sleek, stylish, sloppy and screwy?


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Discussion Starter #1




The Lancia Gamma was highly unusual in the exec market of its day (1976-1984), being FWD and fitted with specially developed, longitudinally-mounted 2.5ltr, 4 cylinder boxer lumps (originally carb-fed, then later with fuel injection).

The engine was light-weight and compact, allowing a rakish bonnet line, but it wasn't particularly powerful (140bhp) - and BMW, Opel and the like were knocking out smooth running sixes for fun. It didn't catch on, despite a lot of favourable reaction to the styling, upon launch.

Even worse was to come, when it became clear that the Gamma engine had a problem with overheating, cam wear and oil leaks (I seem to recall a young James May struggling with one of these while writing for CAR).


Oh, worth mentioning that because power steering was driven from the left cam-belt, the car was prone to snapping that belt when steering was on full lock. On the back of the Beta rust scandal, this was probably another laughable nail in the coffin.


There were 15,272 berlinas (the 4 door pseudo-hatch that wasn't) and 6,790 coupés built. I have no idea how many remain, but I'm willing to bet that it's not a lot.
 

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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).


SUB-ZERO!!!!
 

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The styling is very much of its time and it is a lovely thing to look at. Sadly, you also need to be able to drive it for a car to fulfill its primary function.

It was thrown together at both design and build stages. Leaving the showroom with factory fit non optional rust was a further negative.

Any new buyer would have been disillusioned in very short order. Any classic buyer has to be (should be?) committed.

Sorry. I like it in principle but it's uncool.

+ a stylish alternative to mainstream luxury coupes
- the epitome of unreliability
 

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To me, I doubt that it would get heads to turn, as it appears to be "of the day" but pretty much uninteresting. It's certainly not ugly, but not just "there" yet, and therefore uncool.
 

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I have driven my friends Gamma Coupe shown here and it is lovely. You can feel the low c of g of the boxer engine. The black car shown I've also been in at the 25th anniversary meet in Turin. Superb.
 

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Last time I saw my friend who owns one he was by the pool trying to source steering bits for the Beta Spyder from South Africa on-line !
 

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This car was cool in it's day and has become cooler as we go along !
Gets my vote...but I don't have to run one.
 

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Considering it's main claim to fame is a cooling related issue "cool" is not a likely description but the coupe is gorgeous in a 90s way.
 

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I remember looking at pictures of it, way back when, and thinking it looked brilliant. To my eyes, it still does, so I'm going to say cool for that reason.
 

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It's orrible. Looks like it's on tiny sofa castors and was designed with a ruler. Plus it has a speshul face look about it
 

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Yes, it's cool, to this day I remember wanting a neighbours car in that same light metallic blue colour, registered JGL 856. He foolishly traded it for an XJS. My decision also affected because I have fond memories of a very nice young lady I knew who drove a similarly styled Beta Coupe which was probably a better car.
 

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I've gone cool. it's graceful, and elegant. cool inside, too :)
 
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